In an exclusive interview to Rajya Sabha TV, BJP’s Gujarat in-charge Bhupendra Yadav spoke about the Assembly poll outcome – what worked for the party and where they were found lacking.
The Rajya Sabha MP gave all credit of the recent win to party workers. He accused the Congress of playing low politics and giving a casteist colour to the polls.
Here are some edited excerpts from the interview given to RSTV’s Neelu Vyas:
Were the Gujarat results on expected lines or do you feel you could have done better?
Elections are run with a team. After 22 years of anti-incumbency BJP is blessed to come back to power. Congress brought the elections to a very low level. This kind of a casteist colour to the polls is not good for democracy. We were committed towards the people. 50 % people are still with BJP. We are committed to democracy.
With a wafer thin majority don’t you think the party’s morale has come down? Congress claims it’s their moral victory.
Congress lost because of anti-incumbency after five years in Himachal. Here even after 22 years, people of Gujarat have reposed their faith in us. It’s a message for the Congress.
There was a strong rural and urban divide, what lesson has the BJP learnt?
BJP has grown in Saurashtra area, but yes we could have won more seats. The extent of irrigated land has increased, ground water levels have improved, but we need to carry the message to the farmers in a better manner. Politics is complex. Congress was trying to split the society on caste lines, and the farmers do get swayed. We will work on our deficiencies.
Rural distress was a major issue in Saurashtra and North Gujarat. Did Congress capitalise on this discontent?
BJP has support in rural areas. The Sardar Sarovar scheme was recently inaugurated, which will lead to better results. In coastal areas of Gujarat, there are some issues which the BJP raised well. We will see better results in the coming days. We believe in Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas. We will fulfil the New India’s vision.
Will there be any policy announcements for farmers around the Budget?
We will focus on employment generation. Those who are criticising us, especially the Congress, could not even open a Collector’s Office in Amethi. We are focused and committed towards poor and the needy.
Rahul Gandhi visited temples, and copied BJP blindly as far as social engineering and soft Hindutva is concerned. Is that why he won seats?
Rahul Gandhi tried to do a photocopy, but the Congress misguided the people. They outsourced it to casteist groups. Not even once did university students speak to Rahul Gandhi. They also did not talk about real issues. He focused on more than 50 per cent reservation, which is against the Constitution. Visits to temples were because of electoral compulsions. Our vote base has increased by almost two per cent. It was the Mudra scheme, and Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme that worked. We run a government where decision making is fast. We are committed to taking the country forward. Let the Congress photo copy us.
Congress says it’s their moral victory. Do you think this election was a turning point?
Congress has lost another state, but we are going forward with more energy under the leadership of Narendra Modi . It is the success of Modi and Amit Shah.
What was the impact of elements like Alpesh Thakore, Hardik Patel and Jignesh Mevani?
BJP won from seats where Patidars concentrated. Alpesh Thakore lost the zila parishad elections. He then headed a casteist group. It is now for people to see what kind of a leader he is. It’s not true that youth got swayed under their influence. Congress was not successful in drawing young voters.
How will BJP reach out to Patidars? PM in his post victory speech called for the unification of all Gujaratis, was he indicating to pacify the enraged Patidars?
We believe in Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas. Why did Rahul Gandhi not campaign along with Hardik Patel? He could have met Hardik in public but they didn’t do it. Congress tried to create confusion. BJP has grown over the years because of the BJP workers.
GST and demonetisation were tough decisions taken by the NDA government. Are we to expect that the government will now take bolder decisions and come out with tougher reforms?
Bold decisions do not mean causing inconvenience. We have to keep revisiting our decisions. GST is a product of cooperative federalism. Every month GST council meets. We don’t want to cause inconvenience but want to change the lives of people. We have jumped as far as ease of doing business in concerned. We believe in transparency. Business enhancement is for the betterment of the country. We are not rigid but flexible.
Had it not been for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it would have been difficult for BJP to win Gujarat…Will it be political correct to ask you whether the party should bank on the ability and capability of just one leader?
Modi is the most popular leader. He is an inspiration. He is the only leader who can establish a dialogue. It’s fortunate that we have a leader like Narendra Modi
State leaders don’t inspire confidence, how will BJP strengthen the second level leadership?
We have a strong line of second leaders, our guide and inspiration is Modi but we do have a list of second, third and fourth line of leaders. There is no confusion about that.
Important elections coming up next year…are you not worried that an energised Opposition might make Congress the centre-piece of a coalition for 2019?
Congress has lost another state. They are misguiding the people. How is Congress growing…It’s a wrong perception. BJP is strong with its ideology where people from all sections of society will grow. Nobody is against BJP.
(Watch the entire interview on the show To The Point at 10 pm, only on Rajya Sabha TV)