In a candid interview to Rajya Sabha TV Union Minister for Science and Technology Dr Harsh Vardhan said that the Opposition in India is as good as nil, which is not a good sign for democracy. Opposition should be well meaning and with good intentions and that’s exactly what the country is lacking, said the minister.
He went on to emphasise that there were so many opposition leaders whose names were coming up for a consensus presidential candidate but he reiterated that nobody matched up to the charisma and honesty of purpose of Narendra Modi.
On being asked about secularists alleging that BJP’s nationalism is pseudo-nationalism, Harsh Vardhan said his party did not need a certificate from any lobby.
He also dismissed reports of BJP becoming bigger than its ideological parent RSS and said that the Prime minister did not have to do any tight rope walk between the party and RSS.
On MCD elections Dr Harshavardhan slammed Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal for his comment on EVMs, where the AAP chief had called BJP’s victory, a victory of the EVMs. Harsh Vardhan accused Kejriwal of insulting the democracy and the verdict of the people of Delhi.
Here are some edited excerpts from the interview:
BJP got a massive mandate in MCD polls, despite the decade long anti-incumbency. What bucked the trend in BJP’s favour?
We were in power, BJP did well there and our record is impressive. In today’s times our PM‘s image, his vision, sincerity, honesty, commitment and the way he has tried to solve the problems of the people in the last three years, was the reason behind BJP’s win.
Was it fair to over expose prime minister for civic elections?
If party had not performed well on the ground, it would not have won. And over and above superimposed with Modiji’s image is like icing on the cake.
Perception of MCD was that it’s a corrupt organisation. It’s difficult to digest BJP’s victory because of BJP’s image?
Corruption is systemic. BJP-led corporation tried their level best to improve transparency by making things available online, strengthening the citizen charter and so on. We decided to bring in new people so that they come with fresh ideas. Experienced ones will be accommodated in party work.
Arvind Kejrival and AAP say it was an ‘EVM-leher’ not a Modi-leher?
This is insult to the people of the country, insult to democracy. Blaming EVMs is obnoxious. EVMs have produced all types of results. Kejriwal with the help of the same EVMs came to power with a thumping majority.
Do you think MCD election was a clear referendum on Arvind Kejriwal?
He no longer enjoys the confidence of people. He is exposed. He came to the political scene with huge promises as he spoke about honesty but all that is not true anymore.
BJP state chief Manoj Tiwari says right to recall should be exercised in Delhi.
On the face of it, it’s a good idea. Its academic implementation is a very big challenge?
Do you think it’s the golden era of BJP?
There can’t be two opinions on this. Vajpayee and Modiji both are great in their own might.
Modiji’s persona is matchless. When you have such a tall leader don’t you think other leaders in the party get stymied, and that there is not much scope for growth?
This is a false notion. Having a tall leader with vision and honesty is always an asset. Modi is desperate to deliver. He’s a big asset. We are blessed to work under him.
All opposition parties are meeting Sonia Gandhi to prop up a consensus candidate for presidential election. Does that worry BJP?
We are sincerely working for the welfare of the people. Modi wants to create a new India, that’s our focus we will continue to do that. We are not worried about who is propping the candidate or not. That’s the last thing on our mind at the moment.
Muslims still feel uncomfortable with BJP. In the recent MCD polls, none of your Muslim candidates won.
People have been levelling false allegations against BJP, that it is communal and so on. We are the most inclusive party. Things are improving. Even Muslims are ready to walk with Modiji’s humanist approach. We are not caste-based – humanism is the most important thing. Look at the results in UP – ‘sabka sath sabka vikas’ is not just a slogan. BJP is serious about it.
Will Hindutva agenda become more visible?
I have been a RSS Svayamsevak. And I know all falsities are being spread about RSS. Since Atalji’s time RSS has always worked for the good of the country. Give me any instance where they have bee anti-India. For us Rashtra dharma is most important.
Why does the secular lobby of the country say that BJP’s nationalism is pseudo-nationalism?
We don’t need a certificate from any lobby after so many years. During Modiji’s career, he was abused, nobody believed. People know BJP’s reality – BJP has an inherent strength that shows that we have leaders like Atalji and Modiji.
We saw the Vajpayee era and then now the Modi era. Is it some kind of tight rope walk that the PM has to do between the party and the RSS?
There was never a problem as there is a perfect understanding between BJP and RSS. Leaders take inspiration from RSS. It’s a two way process. There is freedom of thought, expression and speech. There is no scope for a problem. We all arrive at a consensus after a discussion.
BJP is becoming bigger than RSS?
RSS is our mother organisation – its pious and we have respect it. Swayamsevaks are working tirelessly for the mother land. We are at the height of our glory. BJP can never become bigger than RSS.
There is no Opposition practically…does that worry you that its bad for democracy and it could lead to dictatorship and despotism?
I always feel for any government to perform well, the Opposition should also be powerful. It should not be just for the sake of it. It should be sincere in fulfilling its duties. It should be a meaningful opposition, which the country is lacking right now.
There are so many leaders like Sharad Pawar, Nitish Kumar amd Naveen Patnaik. Who do you think can match up to Modiji?
The sincerity and honesty of purpose which Narendra Modi exudes, no one can match up to that. They are all miles away from him in charisma and so on.
People have started saying that Yogi Aditynath is junior Narendra Modi?
He is a learned fellow, five time Parliamentarian. I have heard him talking about health and science issues. I find him a sincere and honest man. He is an asset not only to Uttar Pradesh, but to Modi ji as well. He will help the Prime Minister realise his dream of making Uttar Pradesh, Uttam Pradesh.
(You can watch the entire interview on Rajya Sabha TV on Thursday 1 pm and 5.30 pm)