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“We will never forge an alliance with BSP”
Rajnath Singh has shouldered crucial responsibilities for BJP, time and again. With elections approaching fast in several states, 2012 promises to be an eventful year for the mass leader. In an exclusive conversation with Parimal Peeyush, Rajnath discusses politics, corruption, Anna Hazare and more...
Issue Date - 19/01/2012
B&E: What are your expectations for the party’s performance in the forthcoming Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand? How well do you expect the party to fare this time around?
Rajnath Singh (RS): We already have our government in Uttarakhand and I am confident that the party will return to power once again. In Uttar Pradesh too, BJP’s graph is shooting northwards at an immense pace. It is true that BJP was weak in the state. The reason was our alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which I feel was not in tune with the expectations people had from our party. People had seen the rule of SP and they were so filled with anger that they got BSP to power even though they did not want to. Now they have suffered at the hands of the BSP as well. So, the people of UP want the BJP to come to power. They have seen our party’s governance and there is a general belief that when it comes to good governance, BJP fares better than all other parties.

B&E: How many seats do you see it translating into? There are talks that the BJP could go for a post-poll alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Is it true?
RS: Our target, of course, is full majority and the way the party’s graph has been rising in the state, the possibility cannot be negated. Coming to your second question, let me be very clear that BJP has decided not to go for any alliance with BSP, neither pre-poll nor post-poll. We will neither extend our support to BSP, nor ask for it. We will be happy to play our role as the Opposition, but an alliance with BSP, under any circumstances, is not on cards.

B&E: The BJP government in Uttarakhand has recently passed the Lokayukta Bill. The party also replaced Nishank with B. C. Khanduri as the state Chief Minister. How well do you think this has worked for the image of your party?
RS: When it comes to addressing the issue of corruption in India, the first positive step in this regard has been taken by the Uttarakhand government. The legislation is on the lines of the Jan Lokpal Bill. If you look at the Congress Party, there is no doubt left in anybody’s minds today that they are not in favour of bringing a Lokpal Bill on the lines of the Jan Lokpal. I personally don’t feel that there was any shortcoming with Nishank. Sometimes, keeping in mind what role a leader should play, certain strategic changes are brought about.

B&E: With elections approaching in Punjab as well, what are your expectations for the party’s performance in the state? Do you believe that the BJP-Akali Dal combine could come back to power?
RS: I certainly believe so. There should be a repeat of the BJP-Akali Dal combine. Look, the way prices have gone up, there is a lot of real anger out there. Rise in petrol price has also annoyed people. There is absolutely no reason for the Congress to come to power in Punjab. If you look at the performance of the central government in the past few months, you get a feeling that there is a defunct government working out there, a government, which does not know what to do and what not to do. Even if you look at the history of the Congress, when have they been correct? They have deceived the public either with policies or with slogans.

B&E: Anna Hazare has upped the ante against Congress’ failures when it comes to tackling corruption. Do you think this will help the prospects of your party in the states and the Centre in 2014?
RS: On the issue of corruption, whether it is a movement by Anna Hazare or Baba Ramdev, I do not judge it on the parameters of political gains or losses. I personally believe this is a pious movement. When a movement is started with a larger target in mind, there should be no attempts to politicise it. I also believe that political parties should not view it with a view of profit or loss. Political parties are meant to work for the nation and not just to form a government.

B&E: The recent anti-corruption movement also talks about retrieving black money stashed abroad. With the movement gathering momentum, do you see the government seriously acting on it?
RS: UPA’s stance on black money does not seem to have the will that is required. The government seems to be hesitant in taking any meaningful action on black money as the money trail could lead to many key figures in the government itself. Under opposition pressure, the UPA government has recently ratified the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) six years after it came into force in 2005. However, as far as asset recovery is concerned, nothing much can be expected to move. Although many committees, sub-committees and panels were constituted, without a firm will and action plan to bring back black money, these committees are meaningless.

B&E: Speaking of Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev, there have been some strong allegations from Congress quarters that the entire movement was actually conceptualised by the RSS. How true is it?
RS: As far as support is concerned, it definitely exists in-principle. And this is not something new that the Congress has said. Whenever there is an issue in the interest of national integrity and security, whenever there is a movement by any individual, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has never opposed it. Whether that support has been moral or active, could be an issue of assessment & deliberation. RSS’ moral support has obviously been there for the movement. But then, even if there is support for an anti-corruption act, I fail to understand why Congress has objections to it.

B&E: BJP has always claimed to be a party with a difference. However, allegations of corruption have also been reported from BJP-led states like Karnataka, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and MP. How do you view it?
RS: BJP, like any other political party, has been formed taking people of the society along. We can never claim that any individual joining the BJP is pious. But whenever any authentic allegation against any party member has come to light, BJP has never compromised. In Karnataka, for instance, we had made it abundantly clear to the state leadership that the day any investigating agency or the Lokayukta brings facts pertaining to corruption to fore, Yeddyurappa will have to step down and that is what happened. Apart from Karnataka, if you talk about Chhattisgarh or MP, nothing has been proven.

B&E: There still seems to be little clarity on who the prime ministerial candidate of BJP would be in 2014 elections...
RS: There is no issue in BJP on this front. BJP is not an individual-based or family-based political party. All decisions in this party are taken collectively after reaching a consensus. Further, when it comes to deciding candidates for the chief ministerial and prime ministerial positions, the party’s Parliamentary board takes decisions at the appropriate time.
Parimal Peeyush           

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