‘BJP will fight UP polls on the plank of development’

Neelu Vyas

“BJP does not believe in a hard line or a moderate line, but follows the agenda dictated by the Prime Minister and party president Amit Shah,” says Sidharth Nath Singh, the secretary and spokesperson of the BJP.

In an exclusive interview to Rajya Sabha TV, he outlines the strategy for the upcoming Uttar Pradesh polls. Singh said the party will fight the UP elections on the development plank and other factors will be on the periphery.

Rejecting charges of communal polarisation, Singh targeted the opposition and the media for polarising issues like Kairana and Mathura clashes. Singh also pointed out that Kairana will be a national issue for the BJP as the exodus of the people was an offshoot of missing law and order situation, lack of jobs and bad governance.

Singh remained elusive on the chief ministerial candidate for Uttar Pradesh putting the ball in the court of the party’s parliamentary board.

He also dismissed charges that BJP leader and Gandhi scion Varun Gandhi was a trouble maker for the party.

Some edited excerpts of the interview:

Is the road ahead of UP polls all about development or Hindutva?

Development will be the key agenda for the BJP.

But how can you dismiss the caste calculus in Uttar Pradesh?

Youth wants employment over caste politics in UP. SP and BSP both indulge in caste based politics.

Did BJP also not toe the caste line in choosing its state president Keshav Prasad Maurya who is a Khushwaha?

Keshav Maurya is a BJP grassroots worker. He has been chosen not because of his caste but his long association with the party. Keshav Maurya won UP polls from Phulpur by a margin of 3 lakhs votes.

How will the party balance the hard line Hindutva forces and the moderate elements?

The Opposition & the media want to play communal card. BJP does not have any hard line or moderate line. BJP will follow the path shown by our party president and PM Modi.

RSTV's Neelu Vyas interviewing BJP's Sidharth Nath Singh.

RSTV’s Neelu Vyas interviewing BJP’s Sidharth Nath Singh.

How will you justify what happened in Mathura and Kairana?

Mathura incident was supported by SP’s senior leaders. SP is trying to create communal tension in UP. SP was behind the Kairana exodus. Hindus threatened to leave Kairana because of anti-social elements. BJP will take up the issue in a big way in the near future.

Is BJP not trying to keep the Kairana issue alive when MLA Sangeet Som goes on a yatra and demands from the Samajwadi government to bring back the families within 15 days?

Sangeet Som is making out a political case from the Kairana issue. On the request of the party president, Som surrendered near Meerut. SP’s silence on the exodus is surprising. Of the 300 families in Kairana 90% are from the Vaishya community. Kairana is a national issue and is an outcome of lawlessness and unemployment in the state. SP tried to appease a particular caste & religion,

All other parties have a fixed CM candidate but BJP has no clarity on the CM face?

SP and BSP follow dynasty politics or choose personality-driven faces for the post of CM. But, BJP follows a system to decide on its CM candidate.

But in Assam your strategy was clear – you named Sarbananda Sonowal much earlier?

In Assam, the choice was easy as BJP had no big names. The party took the decision on the CM face few months early. For UP, the BJP parliamentary board will take a decision at an appropriate time.

Are you not going the Bihar way for Uttar Pradesh as well?

Bihar and UP politics are two different ball games. It will be a mistake to look at both from the same prism.

How will you tackle the challenge of Varun Gandhi? His posters at the time of the National Executive plastered across Allahabad projected him as the CM candidate?

Varun Gandhi is part of the Gandhi family. He has a huge supporter base. He is not a challenge to the BJP. The party’s only agenda in Uttar Pradesh is to form a government. Nothing was discussed in the National Executive regarding UP’s CM candidate.

What about you? You were denied a ticket from Phulpur in 2014. Are you in the CM race?

I am not a chief ministerial candidate in UP.