The recent Assembly poll loss is unlikely to have an effect on voters during the forthcoming elections and the Narendra Modi factor is likely to play a big role, says Prakash Javadekar, the BJP minister incharge of Rajasthan in an exclusive interview to Nitin Mahajan.
The BJP suffered a massive loss in the Rajasthan Assembly polls held just months back. What is the party’s expectation in the state for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls?
We are positive that Rajasthan will vote for the Modi government again. You have to remember that in the 2018 Assembly polls we had only half a per cent less votes than in the 2013 elections, though it is a reality that we were voted out of power. However, we must understand that people vote differently in each individual election, and more so when voting in the national or state polls.
In 1999, the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls were held on the same day in Maharashtra, as we had dissolved the Assembly six months ago. While in the Lok Sabha, we secured 40 per cent votes, in the Assembly, we only got 30 per cent votes. The biggest issue in this election faced by the nation is to elect a strong and effective leader. We are confident that we will retain all 25 seats in the state.
Do you think that the Modi factor will work in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls?
The nation faces an important question this time around as to which leader will ensure that our national security and pride are maintained. And the way events have unfolded over the past five years, it is evident to the people of the nation that only Prime Minister Narendra Modi can provide that effective leadership. Moreover, they are also confident that under Mr Modi’s leadership the nation will attain continued development. The mantra of sabka saath sabka vikas propagated by our government has promoted a feeling of progress for all among the masses, without any favour or prejudice against or in favour of any community.
Despite launching and implementing several public welfare measures over the past five years, this election is being fought on the issue of nationalism. Do you think that development work has been overshadowed by the narrative of national security?
For any country national security is paramount. There is nothing wrong with that. We have always been clear regarding our agenda of development. It must be noted that during the past five years, our government provided residential dwellings to over 2.5 crore families and seven crore families have received an LPG connection. We have also ensured that a major part of our country now has access to toilets and these areas are open defecation free. The speed with which roads, highways and metro connectivity are being improved is unprecedented since our Independence. Post-Independence, this is the time when there is maximum possible penetration of data and broadband connections as they have reached almost all villages. We have brought down inflation to less than four per cent from the 10 per cent at which it stood during the UPA regime. We are now the fastest growing large economy in the world. We are seeking votes on development as well as on national security, which is equally important for the future of the nation.
In its manifesto, the Congress has promised that it will remove sedition and dilute Afspa in Jammu and Kashmir. What are your party’s thoughts on that?
We should understand that criticising the government in a democracy is a right. But at the same time we should acknowledge that speaking or making statements against the nation is a crime. Everyone has the freedom to criticise a political party but who gives them the freedom to speak against the nation? We can’t allow anyone to speak a language like “Bharat ke tukde honge Insha Allah Insha Allah” and “Jung chalegi, jung chalegi, Bharat se azaadi tak”.
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi has filed his nomination from Kerala’s Wayanad where he has said that he won’t attack the Left even if they attack him. What’s your take on this fight between the two allies?
This is nothing but shadow boxing between two allies. How can this be possible? How can two parties contesting against each other not target one another? In one state they are contesting against each other and on the national stage they want to come together to keep Mr Modi out of power.
Yeh pakhand hai (It is sheer hypocrisy). Our nation professes unity in diversity since ages. Statements made by people like Mr Gandhi should not be taken seriously. There is neither ekta nor mahagathbandhan among the Opposition.
How are you going to counter the Congress regarding the minimum income guarantee Nyuntam Aay Yojana (Nyay) scheme?
The Congress government had promised that it will waive all farmers’ outstanding loans within 10 days of coming to power. However, even after over 120 days the Ashok Gehlot government has not been unable to fulfil its promise. The Congress government has been working against the interests of the people as it has failed to submit the required documentation for the direct benefit scheme of the Centre — the Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana. They have also discontinued the state-run Bhamashah health scheme and not allowed Aayushman Bharat for eligible beneficiaries in the state.
Jat leader Hanuman Beniwal has allied with the BJP and there are talks of Col. Kirori Bainsla also joining hands with you. Is there a strategy behind this intake of new leaders?
We are not asking people to join our party depending on their caste. We welcome everyone who wants to fight for the development and growth of the nation. We do not focus on the caste factor and only people with proven public service credentials are allowed to join our fold. People who want to work for the nation are always welcome to join our party.