‘No person with criminal mentality is in our party’: Rajnath Singh

 ‘BJP is a secular party,’ BJP president Rajnath Singh speaks to Hardnews

Akash Bisht Delhi

 Q UP remains a crucial state for any coalition that expects to come to power in 2014. Considering the poor performances that the BJP witnessed in the state in the last assembly and Lok Sabha polls, what will be the party’s strategy for UP in 2014?

First, the issues of assembly and Lok Sabha elections are different and both can’t be linked together. In 2009, there was a perception that the Congress was coming back to power and people were not too unhappy with the performance of the Congress-led UPA-I. However, this is UPA’s second term and, looking at both the terms of the government, the performance this time has been very poor. This government has failed on every front, including on economic policies, internal and external security threats, diplomatic and strategic fronts. Also, the charges of corruption against this government have been unprecedented and it has lost its credibility. People want change. The BJP-led NDA government under the leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee also ruled at the Centre for six years. When people compare the performance of the two coalitions, they believe that if any political party can deliver on good governance, it is the BJP. If you look at all the NDA or BJP-ruled state governments, all of them are performing better than any other state government. Looking at all this, I believe, there is a perception about the BJP on good governance and the party will benefit from it. The BJP may not get the majority, but it will emerge as the single largest party and the next government will be led by us. 

 Q Talking about alliances, how do you interpret Nitish Kumar’s speech in Delhi?

We are very old friends and howsoever big the crisis be, it can be resolved by mutual dialogue. We will talk to them and resolve the issue. Be it the JD(U), Shiromani Akali Dal or Shiv Sena, they are all different political parties. They are not the BJP; alliances are made on certain common issues and there might be differences of opinion on certain issues. 

 Q If the alliance falls apart, the BJP’s dream of clinching power in 2014 will remain a distant dream.

We will never want this alliance to fall apart and our maximum effort will be to keep it intact. We will talk on all issues, including the issue they have raised objections about. 

 Q  TheCongress has been alleging that the BJP is shying away from debating issues in Parliament and is unnecessarily disrupting proceedings. How do you react to this?

Who says that we are not ready for a debate? If you look at the 2G spectrum issue, they were not ready to form the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) and to accept that there was any loss to the exchequer. The Supreme Court agreed and this means that our allegation was right. So, it was the responsibility of the government if the entire session was washed away. We are only playing the role of a watchdog and principal opposition party. We did what was our responsibility, what did they do? The government is trying to cover the entire 2G issue, but the Supreme Court took notice of it and eventually one of their ministers went behind bars. The JPC was formed after we forced them. However, the way the JPC is functioning, questions are being raised about its credibility. The main accused, A Raja, is pleading that he should be allowed to appear, but they are not letting him. How can a report be made without hearing the version of the main accused? Hence, shouldn’t we take up these issues?

On the issue of Coalgate, the Supreme Court has directed the CBI to submit the report directly to it and not let it go through the government. So, why did they call the CBI director? Why did they try to influence him? These issues are of national interest, so why are they interfering? Be it Parliament or the political system, the whole issue is about credibility. 

 Q Is disrupting Parliament the correct method?

How are we disrupting Parliament? We are only saying, please answer the questions that we are raising. But they are not ready to give any answers. We will keep asking till we get a reply from them. We can’t be sitting like mute spectators. In a parliamentary democracy, the primary responsibility for the smooth functioning of the House lies with the government. If there is an issue of national interest like the Chinese intrusion, then I have said that the government should handle it and the entire nation and BJP will stand
with them. 

 Q How do you look at the possibility of early elections?

I believe that the UPA, with the help of the SP and BSP, will complete its term. (Laughs) We don’t want to destabilize the government and their mandate should be respected. If the government falls because of its internal contradictions, then we are not responsible for it. 

 Q Is the BJP ready for elections?

The BJP is always ready for elections. 

 Q TheBJP’s former ideologue, KN Govindacharya, has said that the 2014 elections will again be a battle between LK Advani and Manmohan Singh. Your comments.

I cannot say anything about this. In our party, the decision of who will be the prime ministerial candidate lies with the Central Parliamentary Board. I can only say anything after discussing it with the parliamentary board. 

 Q There is widespread criticism on including Amit Shah as the general secretary of the BJP. How do you explain his inclusion?

There are no corruption charges against Amit Shah and we should wait for the court’s judgment on the charges against him. The BJP is a secular party and we believe that any senior leader can’t be of criminal bent of mind or have charges of communal violence against him. If there were corruption charges and if he had been chargesheeted, then we wouldn’t have inducted him. 

 Q The charges of involvement in fake encounters and communal riots — are they not more serious than corruption charges?

I am confident that no person with criminal mentality is in our party. Sometimes politicians are charged with cases that are politically motivated. Sometimes there are circumstantial evidence and people are charged on those grounds; but when the judgment comes, they are acquitted. 

 Q TheBJP and RSS believe in the swadeshi development path. Considering the fact that Narendra Modi is backed by corporates, there is a perception that the BJP is also backed by corporates. How do you
counter this?

This is out of the question. We are a party of the common masses. If we were a party of the corporates, how could we come to power or become the principal opposition party? We are running governments in many states; without being a party of the common masses, how can we have such a mass base in the country? 

 Q You have no dearth of good leaders, so why is only one man being projected as the face
of the BJP?

This is a media creation, let them portray who they want to. The final decision will only be taken by the parliamentary board.  

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: MAY 2013