Millennium Post

‘Appeasement of none and development of all’

You are the state in-charge along with Amit Shah for Uttar Pradesh. Tell us about the BJP’s poll strategy for the state.
UP is very crucial for our success in Lok Sabha elections in 2014. It has the potential to give us the maximum number of seats and a spectacular result in the national polls. Right now the environment is very positive, almost euphoric. All rallies have been very successful. We have been able to galvanise our cadres down to the village levels. The final rally culminates on 2 March in Lucknow, after which we will focus on planning and strategising for LS polls. Both our Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha campaign committees have been organised and have started work. Moreover, UP is also one of the states affected by caste politics. SP and BSP are two caste-based parties, like RLD and others. It’s a big challenge for BJP to carve out a niche in this din.

Post Muzaffarnagar riots, has there been a Hindu vote consolidation in the state, and if so, will that help the BJP?
I wouldn’t say that there has been a consolidation of votes along communal lines. In fact, it was failure on part of the UP administration. Hence both Hindus and Muslims affected in the riot are very angry and annoyed with the UP government, which will now have to face the consequences in the coming elections. Also the ambivalent attitude of the Congress, RLD and even BSP has also led to erosion of their support base. BJP has constantly highlighted the failure of law and order machinery which led to these riots. But the SP continues to divert the attention from issues like development and governance, especially expected from young CM Akhilesh Yadav. Yet this tactic has backfired. People of UP have realised appeasement and vote-bank politics will not help them in the long run. Our attempt is to mobilise people on the plank of good governance and development. We feel UP has suffered a lot because of misgovernance and corruption. There needs to be a paradigmatic shift now.

Do you think that beyond caste lines, pride in being Hindu will appeal to people in UP at this juncture?
Even though we are focusing on good governance and development, we can’t ignore the ground realities. All those efforts to do social engineering will go on.

UP politics revolves around caste divisions. Isn’t it why BJP has softened its stand on Ram Mandir? Moreover, BJP in UP has not been able to replicate the success it witnessed in Vajpayee’s time. So, what is the strategy now?
There is no denying the fact that the BJP’s performance was at its peak during the Ram Mandir movement and remained so for ten years. I would attribute the downfall thereafter in its vote-share to the rise of the caste-based parties like SP, BSP and others. But they eroded the votes of Congress as well. Now, the youth has finally realised that it is time to move beyond the caste experiment. Also, Narendra Modi ji’s personal charisma will be able to convert this sentiment into votes.

While Narendra Modi symbolises development and growth, there is also another view that the BJP stands for Hindu majoritarianism. Do you think the BJP faces an image crisis?
Instead of it being a problem for the BJP, I think it’s a problem for those who have this perception. We are absolutely clear about what we have to do. For example, in Gujarat we understand the requirements, whether they are urban or rural. In our case, the development model is designed according to the needs of the state. Likewise it is for other states such as Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, etc. It is a composite and comprehensive model of governance which we have been able to establish. We sincerely believe in appeasement of none and development of all.

How has your experience been working with Amit Shah?
I have worked very closely with Shah and got to know him really once we started working together. He is a spiritual person, which is one aspect I wasn’t aware of his personality. He is also extremely hard-working and a go-getter, very humble and simple. He is in touch with the current ground realities, despite being very well read.

From military to politics, how would you describe your journey?
I passed out from the Officers Training Academy in 1988, and was one of the youngest officers to pass out from there. I was in the army for one year of training and five years of service. After that I prepared for the civil services and cleared the IPS exam, but didn’t join. I joined my family business and started some new ventures. I always wanted to make my own contribution to the society, so decided to join politics. It has been a great journey for me. I am part of the BJP because of its no-nonsense ideology and believe India will emerge as a global superpower under its rule.
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