11 Akbar Road, the present residence of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national President. BJP president Shri Amit Shah, about whom it is said that he neither stops nor gets tired.
On the right side of the chair, on which Shah sits for regular meetings, there are magnificent pictures of Acharya Chanakya on the right depicting the Indic political and economic thinking, while on the left there is a portrait of a great revolutionary Savarkar.
Amit Shah, as the party president is connected to the roots, committed to the ideology and carried clarity beyond any confusion, and has always kept immense touch targets for the party, its leaders and himself.
In the course of continuous travels throughout the year, he has awakened the power of grass-roots workers. He is confident that it is the grass root workers of the organisation who are the key to the strong Union Government.
Shri Shah, who has the target of 170 rallies for himself during the Lok Sabha elections in 2019, has so far completed more than 100 rallies and is full of energy. Taking on the opponents with strong words, Shri Amit Shah does not have any illusion about the future journey of BJP, ideological issues and power equations of the 17th Lok-Sabha. He presents irrefutable logic, hard facts and pure numbers to support his arguments.
Political analysts consider that through this clarity and tireless diligence combined with the strategic capacity and consistent dialogue with the rooted set of karyakartas, the party president has raised the tide in BJP’s favour in the current Lok Sabha elections. Six months before the announcement of the Lok Sabha elections itself, to ensure the victory of BJP, he made an unprecedented atmosphere in favour of the BJP from East to the West, from North to South, to make the BJP victorious, through roadshow, public meetings and rallies; the all-over impact of the same is clearly visible now. Shri Shah, who keeps a close eye on each Lok Sabha seat, believes, “There is a tremendous wave in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the country, and this is the reason why once again the Modi Government will be formed under the leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi.” Amidst the heavy engagements of electioneering, he spoke to Hitesh Shankar, editor, Panchjanya, on the issues ranging from electoral equations, coalition politics, dynastic politics, the decision on senior leaders in BJP and pressing issues such as the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in an elaborate manner. Excerpts:
After the elections of three phases, how do you see the response of people of the country towards the BJP?
Look, the actual expression of votes is happening now, but BJP’s campaign began almost six months ago. I am constantly travelling across the country, meeting with the workers and getting in touch with the common people, I see an unprecedented wave in favour of the BJP. In all parts of the country, people are keen to see Narendra Modi as Prime Minister again. The first three phases of the elections clearly sees the expression of the same, and this will be even more vocal in the forthcoming elections. I hope the BJP and NDA will win this election with a bigger majority than the previous elections.
The opposition parties are saying that the BJP is contesting in the name of Pakistan and nationalism rather than its work!
This is a reflection of the rattled opposition. After five years of good governance, we can say that what BJP has done during this period is unprecedented. There has been a huge positive difference in the lives of people, in the country’s infrastructure and the attitude of the world towards India.
The kind of response that was given to Pakistan and terrorism during this period was necessary. This is more about the national security of India than about any other country. As far as patriotism is concerned, we believe that it is mandatory for the country, for democracy. How can one imagine a country without patriotic citizens?
“For the first time, the people of the country feel that a Prime Minister has come, who has given the due respect to democracy consisting of 125 crores on the global stage”You said the BJP and NDA would win this election with a bigger majority than the previous one. Is this an emotional hope or does it have any logical basis?
See, you do not get people’s support with hope and wishful thinking. You get the support of the masses on the basis of solid work of the government. That is why I want to tell you that Shri Narendra Modi has developed confidence about the security of the country. Today, the common people believe that the country is safe in this regime. Secondly, there is a visible ray of hope among the lives of 50 million poor people. 22 crore families got the benefit of various schemes. Like seven crore received gas cylinders under Ujjwala Yojna, eight crore are the beneficiaries of the toilets, 2.5 crore people have got homes under Awas Yojna, 2.35 crore got electricity connection and 50 crore people have benefited from the Ayushman Bharat scheme. There were nineteen thousand villages where electricity could not be reached for 70 years; this government ensured that to happen. Therefore, the Modi government has done a lot of work on the basis of Antyodaya’s theory for structural transformation and eradication of poverty. This has not only reached the lower level, but people are also actually benefitted from it. In addition, this government has succeeded in establishing the pride of India in the whole world.
This all happened after 2014, but did nothing happen before that?
Yes, it did happen, but there is a difference between the previous governments and this government. During the ten years of the UPA Government before 2014, the image and pride of the nation in the world were massively suffered. For the first time, the people of the country feel that a Prime Minister has come who has ensured appropriate respect and dignity to the democracy of 125 crore people at the global level. Apart from this, the economy of country is also kept vibrant and on track. Atal ji had left the country’s economy at the 11th position in the world economy, during the ten years of Manmohan Singh’s Government economy could not climb any significant number. On the other hand, in the five-year rule of Shri Narendra Modi, we have made a remarkable journey from 11th to the 6th position. When other raw data is finalised by September, we will be among the top five economies of the world. This has greatly benefited the country; the expectations of the public have also increased.
People want to see India as a global power. We are continuously moving forward in this direction. Just a few days back you saw that through Mission Shakti we successfully destroyed a live satellite in the space; this certainly raised the confidence of the people. Naturally, all these things are being reflected in the voting. Every class of the country whether it is poor, middle-class, high, everyone sees a similar wave of national aspiration and consciousness; I can clearly see this happening.
“There were 22 leaders who were above 75 years and therefore not given the ticket. This decision is the same for everyone”
In every election, every government counts its issues, achievements and plans. Do you see any other political factor, such as lack of alternatives, that are responsible for the Narendra Modi wave?
This wave is not just because there is no alternative; this is a positive force of masses. See, counting the government’s work is one thing; experiencing that work is another thing. The Modi government has made the voter experience his work and the trust that is established due to this is visible in the form of a wave.
How do you see the low voter turnout after three phases? Your strong seats like Ghaziabad, Nagpur have also come to the notice of low voter turnout?
I clearly think that voters of the opposition are in frustration. Due to this, the percentage of voting has been reduced to some extent. People who understand BJP, like this government’s work are voting loudly.
“We have made a successful attempt to stop the tradition of dynastic politics, at least to some extent”
From the South of Bengaluru, you fielded a young candidate, Tejasvi Surya. The late Ananth Kumar’s wife, who is also a social worker, could be considered as a natural contender. But BJP bet on Tejasvi instead. Has the BJP tried to give a message through this?
Look, the family members of our leaders are our only workers, so there is no such thing. But we have successfully tried to restrain dynastic politics, at least to some extent. Ananth Kumar's wife has been made vice president of the state unit and entrusted with the organisational responsibility. As far as Tejasvi Surya is concerned, he is a young worker. He has come forward with the ideological basis, by working with the ABVP and the BJP. So, we have done an experiment to advance the youth, and I think that we will succeed.
You talked about preventing dynastic politics. This time the founding members of the party are also not contesting. How do you see their role and contribution?
Frankly speaking, this decision has not happened to any one leader. There were 22 such leaders of above 75 years of age who have not been given ticket. So, this decision is the same for everyone. The party has decided that those whose age is above 75 should not go to electoral politics now. There are many more responsibilities in the party; they will be used there. So, this decision is not for a leader or a group.
“Atal ji had left the country’s economy at the 11th position in the world economy, during the ten years of Manmohan Singh’s Government economy could not climb any significant number. On the other hand, in the five-year rule of Narendra Modi, we have made a remarkable journey from 11th to the 6th position. When other raw data is finalised by September, we will be among the top five economies of the world. This has greatly benefited the country; the expectations of the public have also increased”There have been reports of good voting from West Bengal. Simultaneously, there are reports of more violence than the last time as well. How do you see both of these things?
Due to the politics and power of Communism for a long time, a culture of violence has been part and parcel of the politics there. But now I hope that with the growing popularity of the BJP in the state, it will gradually decrease. Secondly, this time we will win more than 23 seats in Bengal, and the BJP will be established as a strong and number one party.
What is your assessment of Odisha?
You are also witnessing our growing popularity in Odisha. I am doing regular rallies and roadshow there. From this, I have experienced that the people of Odisha also made a big change and have decided to vote in favour of the BJP.
“Now two leaders sitting in a drawing room cannot dictate the voters to vote in their favour. Casteism, appeasement and dynastic politics have ended. The era of performance-based politics has started”In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, whether it was from Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, the BJP won most of the seats in these states. How challenging is it to maintain the same in this election?
It’s absolutely challenging. But I am confident that we will overcome this challenge and once again we will emerge strong by reorganising our stronghold and at the same time and adding the strength from new areas.
There are reports of ups and downs in some places. But you believe there are many states other than Odisha where the BJP seems to be getting stronger. Where do you see more strength?
Odisha is not alone; our seats are increasing in the Northeast. Our seats will also increase in Bengal and Karnataka. Apart from this, seats in Kerala are going to increase. The BJP has fought a serious contender here (Kerala) in 4-5 seats. In this case, its effect will definitely be seen, and it will be a good start.
“Politics' is 'Physics' and not 'Chemistry'. When two substances get together, then the third substance is formed”
You’re looking at possibilities from North to South. Beyond these possibilities, Congress-JD(S) in Karnataka, SP-BSP in Uttar Pradesh, RJD-Congress alliance in Bihar have formed alliances. How do you see this Gathbandhan challenge?
If you look from the old prism, these coalitions count at one level. But now, means after the 2014 elections, now two leaders sitting in a drawing room cannot dictate the voters to vote in their favour. Casteism, appeasement and dynastic politics have ended. The era of performance-based politics has started, and I consider Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Assam, Manipur, Tripura, etc. as examples of this. Wherever the BJP used to get one or two per cent of the votes, today the BJP has a complete majority. This clearly conveys that the public prefers the politics of development and deny politics of dynasticism, casteism and appeasement. When these three vices were working, then the coalition used to be one plus one. But I have said many times and reiterating again that 'Politics' is not 'Physics' but a 'Chemistry'. When two substances get together, then the third substance is formed.
You are constantly mentioning Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in your speeches. But somewhere there are some questions raised about the same. Do you see any impact of this?
Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is our ideological commitment. We believe that the people of religious minorities who have come to India due to religious persecution in the countries around us should not be considered as infiltrators. They are refugees. They have come here to protect their dignity and Dharma. Therefore, India has an obligation to shelter them. And we are firm on giving citizenship to them. On national interest and ideological politics, we are firm like a rock. Therefore, as soon as there is a majority in Rajya Sabha, we will pass this Bill.
In 2014, all were saying that there is a Modi wave. In the present context, do you feel a similar kind of wave?
There is a tremendous wave, and the people of the country have decided to make Narendra Modi Prime Minister again. On May 23, you will get the answer of this.
The opposition is raking up the issue of EVM repeatedly. What would you say about this?
On this issue, I just have to say that why the opposition did take oath in three states? If EVM is wrong, then the victory that has happened with the EVM should not have been accepted. It means wherever we win the EVMs are fine, but when we lose the EVMs are not working. And even now, the counting of votes has not started yet, and now itself they have accepted their defeat. That’s why from the first phase itself they have started making this as an excuse.
After fighting your election, it is believed that you will be part of the Union Government. In such a situation, is there any thought on the position of party president?
No such decision is made by the person, the party does. And as far as my Lok Sabha election is concerned, I have been MLA for five times and I have been in the House through popular mandate. But when the time of my legislator’s tenure was over, there was no election of Lok Sabha. Hence, I went to the House through Rajya Sabha. Now when the election of the Lok Sabha has come, I would naturally prefer to go among the people and the party has given its permission.