BJP will win with better margin vote this time, says Manoj Sinha
While the sheer difference in BJP's performance is visible between its commanding position of 2014 and in 2019, junior rail minister and telecom minister (Independent charge) Manoj Sinha - also a popular face in Uttar Pradesh, believes that Bharatiya Janta Party will win with a better margin of vote in the state than the erstwhile elections with its 'development' agenda. Sinha has been re-nominated from Ghazipur and will take on Afzal Ansari, who is contesting on a BSP ticket. Ansari is the brother of don-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari, who is now in jail. In an exclusive interview, the senior politician spoke to Simontini Bhattacharjee of the Millennium Post that Congress should focus on its branding so that it retains its hold in Indian politics in the coming ten years. Excerpts:
How do you see the election battle between 2014 and 2019?
I can only say that in 2014 there was a Modi wave, but it has turned to a Tsunami now. The youth and the people of this country seem to be determined to re-elect Modiji this time. Even so the 45-50 core poor people. Certainly, he will win with more mandates this time.
The erstwhile foes SP and BSP are fighting the Lok Sabha election together this time. All opposition parties have joined hands against the incumbent government. Will it be a matter of concern for BJP?
First of all, I do not agree that all opposition parties are on the same platform. After the Karnataka Assembly elections, they try to assemble under an umbrella, but it is imploded now. In Uttar Pradesh, only Samajwadi Party and BSP are together. Others are not with them. All corrupted politicians have joined hands against Narendra Modi's transparent governance. It starts from Kashmir, with Omar Abdullah and ends in Kanyakumari, with Stalin.
Further, I want to say that the Centre is never involved in any CBI inquiry. People must know that It is done with the High Court or the Supreme Court's direction. All the CBI examinations are being done with the direction of the court. Therefore, opposition parties' allegations of 'Vindictive government' is baseless.
You are a prominent face of Uttar Pradesh. In the last elections, NDA managed to win 73 seats out of 80. How the state will respond to the party this time?
It is very hard to predict the future and the number of seats. But I am sure that this time it will be good, even better.
What is the real issue of this election, corruption, caste and religion, national security or development?
I start with Congress national president (not naming) that he apologised to the apex court over his remark on the Prime Minister. The election issue is the 'Vikas' in the five years. Now, national security is also an important issue. The people of the country also feel secured under the leadership of PM Modi.
Being represented from Poorvanchal, how do you see Priyanka Gandhi's debut in mainstream politics as the in-charge of Eastern Uttar Pradesh of Congress party?
I welcome Priyankaji. But I do not believe that Congress has ever stronghold in this section. If they start putting the effort from now, they might revive their hold in the state after ten years.
In this tenure of NDA, UP witnessed farmers' agitation, quota agitation partially and communal tension. Do you feel that the incumbent party might face the consequences?
If you talk about farmers' agitation, let me tell you, the Modi government has paid the highest amount of dues to the sugarcane farmers... Some opportunists were deliberately making it as an issue. I think the farmers understand that their dues are being cleared now. In the last two years, no riots have been reported. Uttar Pradesh only witnessed riots during Akhilesh Yadav's regime in Muzaffarnagar. Whenever there is any possibility of communal clashes or any possible agitations were reported in any part across the state, the government has taken stringent action.
Therefore, I don't see any hurdles this time in UP. Development is above all caste discrimination, religious discrimination and people will only vote for 'Vikas' and betterment. Again BJP will win the highest number of seats and form the government at the Centre under the leadership of Narendra Modiji.
You have pitched for a 'Naya Ghazipur'. What will be your work plan if the people of the constituency choose you?
In the last five years, Poorvanchal (Eastern UP) has been the prime focus for the government of India. This part has always been backward during erstwhile regimes. However, the Modi government has always put its effort to enhance the infrastructure of the eastern region.
So, Ghazipur has also been facilitated. In my personal view, connectivity and infrastructure are the main aspects of development in any segment.
In my first term, my primary focus was on connectivity, and then roadways, waterways, and railways and even digitally. Now, Ghazipur is almost connected to all main cities of the country. Four-lane to six-lane road construction work is still on. That helps to build an investment environment. Initially, we tried for government investments. Ghazipur will soon get railway workshop centres. We have started exporting peace and chilli from here. I further strongly feel that the upcoming gas pipeline project will open the road for more investment here.
Moreover, the construction work of the road-cum-rail bridge across the Ganges River is still undergoing, we are trying to connect the Ghazipur-Howrah road to Gorakhpur. I think in coming times we will more focus on technology. There are many skill development centres in Ghazipur. Nokia has come up with a smart village here. We are also putting effort to control the migration of the young generation from village to other cities.
The education sector is also one of our prime focuses. We have transformed many government schools to model schools. More teachers are getting involved in the system. Classes are happening on a regular basis. So, the system has been improved now. I am trying to increase the number of model schools.
Apart from the schools, in the government colleges, we have started the re-education. We have also installed machines of sanitary napkins to both maintain the hygiene of girls and to make her aware of that. I believe that it is just the first step, have to walk further.
Apart from the rail, you are holding the profile of telecom minister. In February, BSNL failed to pay salaries to 1.76 lakh employees. What are the measures that the government has taken so far to avoid such a crisis?
The BSNL is a PSU and is driven by the management. It needs to be understood that since 2008 in the competitive market BSNL started facing crisis and there is no stake of our government. Moreover, BSNL was in profit for three years since the NDA government came into power. Among its revenue, 60 per cent we spent on employees' salaries. So, this is the resultant of the shortfall in BSNL's revenue. But at the same time seeing the potentiality of both BSNL and MTNL, the government has done a framework.
There is resentment over the ticket distribution among the aspirants. In many parts, they vandalized party offices also. Outsiders have been prioritized this time. Is the party leadership looking for a change?
The party conducts a survey in the ground first. On the feedback, the parliamentary board decides the nominee. Generally, political people are highly ambitious. In every election, it is being reported, but the speciality in BJP is it gets expedite. The leadership also prefers the prominent personalities, who have a contribution in many sectors of the society.