New Delhi, Sep 22 (IANS): How is the BJP preparing for the Assembly elections in five states -- Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Manipur and Uttarakhand? Will the BJP go with a Chief Ministerial face in the Punjab Assembly polls or will the party fight elections in the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi?
With which party is the BJP mainly competing in Punjab and Uttarakhand? What will be the impact of the farmers' protest in the upcoming Assembly elections and in which direction is the Dalit politics in the country heading?
IANS senior political expert Santosh Kumar Pathak had a special conversation with Dushyant Kumar Gautam, who is the BJP National General Secretary as well as the current in-charge of the Punjab and Uttarakhand BJP, on all these issues.
Q: What are the BJP's preparations for the Punjab Assembly elections and on the basis of which issues are you preparing to enter the electoral fray?
A: BJP is a political party but more than that it is a social organisation. We keep working for the complete five years and do not become active only during elections. Keeping Punjab connected with the country, taking care that unrest does not spread there and at the same time building a strong Punjab is the top priority for us, the question of political dividends comes after this. Our first priority are the people of Punjab.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, when all parties were sitting at home, the BJP was working round the clock to help the people. We delivered food, medicines, arranged oximeters, oxygen etc to the people and helped them to reach hospitals. The Congress failed to punish the 1984 anti-Sikh rioters even after ruling in the state and at the Centre. The people involved in the 1984 Sikh riots were punished only because of the Modi government at the Centre.
The Kartarpur Corridor was constructed by the BJP government. The BJP also took full care of safely airlifting the holy Guru Granth Sahib from Kabul in Afghanistan to India. The future of the youth of Punjab, the respect of women and elders as well as religious faith is safe only because of the BJP.
Q: For the first time in Punjab, the BJP is going to contest elections on its own. Who is the face of the BJP for the Punjab Assembly polls? Will you go with a Chief Ministerial face or will you fight the polls going with the face of Prime Minister Modi?
A: The credibility of the BJP is its face. The general public has so much faith in Modi ji, we will go among the people with that confidence and at the same time I will also say that the BJP Parliamentary Board has the right to decide about the party's face and whatever be its decision, we will carry it among the public.
Q: But the opposition parties say that the BJP does not have any big political face in Punjab which they can project as a CM candidate.
A: We have many big political faces. Why should we tell them (Opposition parties)? When we have to tell, we will tell the people through the media. In reality, the opposition parties are left with no other issues at all. Tell me which party face do they (opposition parties) have, Kejriwal is someone who keeps telling lies. Is Navjot Singh Sidhu a big face. After putting a Dalit CM in front, Congress is saying that they will contest the elections under the leadership of Sidhu.
Under the leadership of this Sidhu whom the former Punjab CM Amarinder Singh is calling a friend of Pakistan is a threat to India's national security. Will the opposition parties fight the polls with such a face? We have nationalist political leaders and we will fight the polls with nationalist views.
Q: Akali Dal has been the oldest ally of the BJP. For decades, the Akalis and the BJP were considered loyal to each other in Punjab. They (Akalis) parted ways with you (BJP) on the issue of the new Union farm laws. Is there any possibility of an alliance with the Akali Dal again in Punjab?
A: Look, the question is not related to the Akali Dal. The BJP is a nationalist party and any individual or party with nationalist thinking can join us. The Akali Dal left us in haste. The nature of the farmers' protest due to which they left us is constantly changing. The farmers' protest has insulted the Tricolour, sometimes disguising under red flag of the communists, sometimes Khalistani flags are seen, sometimes flags of Bhindranwale are being raised.
So this is not a genuine protest march, it is led by those people who are also associated with anti-national forces. They are working as a political party and now they are talking about contesting elections as well. That is why Akali Dal is now feeling that they had taken a wrong decision by breaking away with the BJP in the name of farmers' protest.
Q: So will the BJP again take the Akali Dal along?
A: We do not have any problems with anybody. All parties who love the country and support the nationalist idea of our national unity are cordially invited to join us.
Q: The Congress says that they have played a big trump card by making a Dalit leader the Punjab Chief Minister. How do you think this will affect the BJP's poll strategy?
A: See, the Congress has made a Dalit leader as the Punjab Chief Minister for four months, but by saying that the party will contest the upcoming state Assembly elections under the leadership of Navjot Singh Sidhu, they have insulted a Dalit CM. This has been the Congress' mindset. It's not the first time they have done this. Even before this, the Congress has cheated the Dalit community by making Dalit leaders such as Sushil Kumar Shinde in Maharashtra and Jagannath Paharia in Rajasthan as the Chief Minister just to win elections.
They (Congress) did not even respect Dalit leader Jagjivan Ram. Bhimrao Ambedkar was defeated by this Congress through propaganda in the first Lok Sabha elections of independent India. Today India has museums named after Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi but they did not allow Babasaheb Ambedkar's museum to be built. It was only set up by the BJP government. We worked to protect and honour Babasaheb's memory and his belongings.
I will tell the Congress that if only Dalits want to be made Chief Ministers, then please appoint them in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh where there is still a long term of 2-3 years left. By making a Dalit CM for four months you are only fooling Dalits. The BJP has appointed a Dalit President and has the maximum number of Dalit MPs and MLAs in the Parliament. Congress wants to gain Dalit votes but now the Congress should forget it because Dalits have understood the value of their votes.
Q: There has been an alternate shift between Congress and BJP coming to power in Uttarakhand, how will the BJP break this electoral trend?
A: Look, such trends have now become outdated. The BJP is continuously forming the government by winning elections in many states. The party has set a target to win more than 60 seats during the forthcoming Uttarakhand polls and will enter the electoral fray with the resolve of bringing a BJP government back to power again. You must have seen how the BJP served the people during the Covid-19 pandemic.
People also saw how the Congress tried to defame the Kumbh Mela while the BJP tried to protect religious faith by successfully organizing the Kumbh. The BJP government built roads in the state, created employment-oriented Uttarakhand, provided gas connections to women, built toilets in every house, saved people's lives with the help of the Ayushman Bharat scheme card, so the people of Uttarakhand have made up their mind to vote for Prime Minister Modi and the BJP government in the state.
Q: After Punjab, now the Aam Aadmi Party has announced its political entry in Uttarakhand. They are trying to woo voters with promises like free electricity, employment to youth and employment allowance.
A: Look in Delhi, the AAP gave employment to only 300 people but did not provide unemployment allowance to anybody. The AAP talks about giving free electricity and water, but there is no electricity in Delhi. The AAP talks about water but Delhi has been submerged under their tenure.
THe AAP has incited communal hatred in Delhi. As many as 104 doctors have died in Delhi during the Covid-19 pandemic, but they have announced Rs one crore to only one Muslim doctor. The AAP says that several schools have been set up in Delhi while 15 schools have been recently closed in Delhi. There are no adequate number of hospitals. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the people of Delhi suffered, so Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal sought immediate help from (Union Home Minister) Amit Shah to save Delhi during Covid-19.
Today the Delhi Jal Board is running at a loss of Rs 25,000 crore, it does not have enough money to pay the salaries of its employees and staff. The AAP has looted Delhi and are busy in PR advertisements with the money of Delhi's citizens. Kejriwal is a fraud and the people of Uttarakhand have recognized his real personality.
Q: In Uttarakhand, BJP faces a tough electoral battle from whom -- the Congress or the Aam Aadmi Party?
A: We are not competing with anyone. We just want to serve the people. We have done it before and want to do it in the future as well. Our goal is to develop a strong Uttarakhand.
Q: Congress is in power in Punjab. Your old ally Akali Dal is contesting the elections in alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). The Aam Aadmi Party is making all efforts to form the government in Punjab. In such a situation which political party is the biggest challenge to the BJP?
A: No party is a challenge for us. You tell why people will vote for Congress, what has it done, you have already witnessed the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. Liquor mafia and sand mafia have taken over Punjab. There was sacrilege of the holy Guru Granth Sahib. Why will people vote for the Aam Aadmi Party, their party MLAs and MPs are running helter-skelter. Why will the people of Punjab vote for the Akali Dal, the way they have fuelled communal hatred.
That is why there is only one political party in the minds and heart of the people which is the BJP and the election results will prove it.
Q: You have also been the National President of the BJP Scheduled Caste (SC) Morcha. In Punjab, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, which are among the five states where elections are going to be held or if we talk about the whole country, where is the Dalit voter heading to? What changes are you witnessing in Dalit politics?
A: The Dalits of the country have been following the ideas of Babasaheb Ambedkar and the BJP is also working towards the mission of not making Dalits 'job seekers' but job creators following Ambedkar's ideas. Our government has done many things for the welfare of Dalits. The honour and respect of Babasaheb Ambedkar has been ensured. Commenting on reservation, we have made it clear that it will continue.
Nowadays people spreading misconceptions are not able to succeed. The Dalit of the country has understood that he/she is safe and respected only under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi and the BJP.
Q: What difference will the farmers' agitation make in the upcoming Assembly elections?
A: It will not make any difference because the farmers' protest has lost its credibility. This is only a political conspiracy. The farmers' protest has actually deceived the farmers of the country which the latter has understood. The farmer of the country is firmly standing with Modi ji today.