In an exclusive interview to Republic TV's Aishwarya Kapoor, BJP party president Amit Shah has addressed the 'Mahagathbandhan' threat for the ongoing Assembly elections and spoken extensively of the ‘development-focused’ positioning of BJP in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections of 2019. He also addressed and gave a slice of his opinion on a wide range of political issues and opposition attacks relating to the CBI, RBI, the ongoings at Ayodhya, and Rahul Gandhi's allegations on the Rafale deal.
As the Shiv Sena ‘Chalo Ayodhya’ campaign gains momentum in Ayodhya and with Shiv Sainiks pressurising for the Ram Mandir's construction, Amit Shah has distanced himself with the Thackeray-led party's agenda and has backed Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath on his Ram Mandir stance.
“Why are you talking to me about Uddhav Thackeray? He has his own party, the Shiv Sena have their own agenda and they work accordingly. They’re going their work and we are doing ours,” Shah said.
Supporting Adityanath, Shah said, “Everybody is saying the same thing- let’s build a Ram temple. But Yogi ji never said that construct the Mandir despite the court’s order. I have heard all the statements by Yogi, he has only said that the holy Ram Mandir should be built there.”
With India very much in election mode, the Opposition leaders have been holding various dialogues, spearheaded by Chandrababu Naidu and Mamata Banerjee, with the stated goal of 'saving India’s democracy,’ to which Shah responded, calling the Mahagathbandhan an ‘alliance of convenience’ with the only agenda being to ‘remove Narendra Modi’.
“Even if they form an alliance, how does it matter? We will fight the election with the alliance, it does not concern us because suppose Chandrababu Naidu forms an alliance and jumps into Madhya Pradesh poll campaign, how will it make a difference? If Mamata goes to Rajasthan, how will it make a difference? Mr. Devegowda goes to Chhattisgarh how will it make a difference? They are all regional players and we have to fight with them there,” Shah said.
Shah emphasized that this alliance is between regional players who lack the power outside of their state, saying, “Their coming together does not matter, Mamata ji can’t win them Kashmir, and Mehbooba ji can’t win them West Bengal. It is only news for the media not for the voters.”
“The analysis should be kept together. What does an alliance mean? Where all will there be an actual alliance? Except for Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka’s nine seats it won’t be anywhere else. If it even happens in Uttar Pradesh,” he added.
Asserting that BJP will have more seats than now, he mentioned how the “Mahagathbandhan” lacks leadership: “But who will be their leader? They’ll have to answer that. Let them get together and decide on a leader, like how we know we have Modi ji as NDA’s PM candidate once again. Let them have consensus once so that the voter can decide.”
The president of the party also addressed recent developments in the CBI and the RBI, over which the Opposition has made 'independence of institution being violated' allegations.
“See in the CBI we have given both their (Alok Verma's and Rakesh Asthana's) reports to the CVC and have asked both of them to go on a leave till then. CVC is probing but midway someone filed a PIL, then it came under Supreme Court’s purview. The issue has been reserved by the Supreme Court, so let the judgments come, we haven’t kept anything pending,” Shah said.
He added, “As far as RBI is concerned, under the Banking Act outside of the RBI Act, if we have done something let someone point it out. When there is an attempt to rattle the system, from within the system, then we can’t break the norms to rectify it. We have to do it, by abiding by the system.”
With the Congress and Rahul Gandhi making the Rafale deal a major poll plank and alleging corruption and nepotism, Shah responded by accusing the UPA of not having accurate information of the deal. He even made a sharp remark on how it is in the tradition of the Congress Party to lie.
Shah said, “It is a tradition in the Congress Party to lie -- to lie loudly, to lie publicly and do it repeatedly.”
“The whole matter was presented in the Supreme Court. Then if there was corruption, why didn’t Rahul Gandhi present all his information there, to assist the court? Or he could have sent someone from his party. Why didn’t they go? It is that they don’t have the correct information. For example, they say that the offset deal to manufacture the aircraft was given to Anil Ambani. But in reality, not one aircraft was made in India. They have delayed the matter so much, that there is no time left for any aircraft to be made here. All 36 Rafale jets will come from France. But what they said keep doing the rounds,” he added.
On Elections and the state of political discourse
Assertive on the strong positioning of BJP, he said that the party has formed a government in almost all the states, except Punjab, and assured a win with a majority in all three states (Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh).
Speaking of the development achieved by the party according to Shah, he said, “If a poor woman has received a gas connection because of the Centre’s Narendra Modi scheme, will she or will she not vote for the BJP? If because of Shivraj’s Ladli Laxmi Yojana, a woman receives a Rs. 1.15 lakh fixed deposit after the birth of a daughter, will she or she not vote for BJP? She will vote.”
“Just like this, houses have electrified, people now have homes, people now have toilets inside their homes, they now have loans from the Mudra Bank, they are vaccinated well, they have the facility to avail insurances. New patients are added every day because of Madhya Pradesh’s health scheme. All of this has a combined effect, which creates a big vote bank for the BJP. It’s not about a win for the state or the Centre or anybody’s loss. It’s a combined effect,” he added.
He further added, “Since 2014, we have won almost all the elections, except for Punjab. BJP has formed governments in 19 states. And all three of our CMs have done very good work. And Narendra Modi government has worked very hard for the development of all these three states. So I say, it will be the victory of the combined effect.”
Shah even commented on the current situation of the Congress party and the attack invoking PM Modi’s mother by Congress party leaders.
He said, “If Congress is desperate it means we are in a good situation -- that is why the desperation. Now let them attack us personally. They have taken this political stage to such a low, one shouldn’t even respond to it. Do you think that the public will like it if you talk out the country’s beloved Prime Minister’s mother and on caste?”
“There is a way that people talk to each other within a democracy, there is a dignity of a position every individual has his dignity,” he concluded.