PUNE: State BJP president Chandrakant Patil is a man on a mission. With the Opposition in disarray, he stares at a chance of creating electoral history in the state.
The Cabinet minister would also be fighting his first Assembly election from Kothrud in Pune.
Taking time out from his busy campaign schedule, Mr Patil sat down with The Asian Age at his Kothrud residence for a chat. Edited excerpts:
In the last Assembly election, the BJP had promised double-digit growth for agriculture. It is just 0.4 per cent as per the latest economic survey. How will people believe your party’s promises?
Your figure is wrong. When the state had received good rainfall in 2015-16, agriculture growth had reached 22 per cent. In the last two years, the state experienced drought. Yet, production has not declined thanks to the Jalyukta Shivar, which helped in maintaining the water level in tube wells. Under the ‘Farm Pond on Demand’ scheme, we permitted farmers for using pond waters.
Prithviraj Chavan has accused the BJP leadership of using intimidation and money power to take away people from the Congress-NCP. Your comment?
One can’t threaten Opposition leaders into joining the BJP. The Congress does not have a future. So, their leaders are joining us. I won’t be surprised, even if a boy from Mr Pawar’s family joins us.
The Opposition has been critical of the BJP for fighting the upcoming polls on the issue of abrogation of Article 370 and Jammu and Kashmir.
Is the issue (Article 370) a sin? Is it wrong? Is it anti-national? I fail to understand why are they opposing it. Besides this, we have also highlighted our development work in last five years. We are also showcasing our plans for a better future. However, Mr Pawar should clarify whether raising the issue of Article 370 is anti-national or not?
Congress lead-er Rahul Gandhi has said that BJP leaders are not speaking over unemployment and the PMC bank scam.
Two days back, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had met PMC Bank customers. She had promised to talk to the Reserve Bank of India governor and increase the withdrawal limit. I think Rahul Gandhi is not aware of this development as he usually stays away from India.
Before the Assembly election, many people joined the BJP. So, why did you enter into an alliance with the Shiv Sena?
This yuti (Alliance) is our commitment to the common agenda of Hindutva and Development. Hind-utva means development because Hindutva and development are synonymous. Even if we win 144 seats, we will take all our alliance partners along with us.
Will turncoats help your party’s cause?
The number of ‘imported leaders’ is not even 10 percent. We continue to have grassroots level state leaders.
Will the BJP offer the deputy CM’s post to Aaditya Thackeray?
This would be declared after the Assembly election result. It is premature to comment on it.
Which party will be the principal Opposition party after the Assembly election? The chief minister had said that VBA would occupy the Leader of Opposition post. At this juncture, it is difficult to predict.
Ranjitsinh Mohite-Patil has neither been given a ticket to contest the Assembly nor Lok Sabha election. Will he be sent to the Upper House of the state legislature?
The Assembly seat is reserved and therefore both (Vijaysinh and Ranjitsinh Mohite-Patil) did not get the ticket. But they suggested Ram Sa-tpute’s name for the Malshiras constituency. Justice will be done to both of them in the future.
Despite being in power for five years, why did the BJP import candidates?
We have brought very few leaders from other parties. This number is less than ten. Leaders from other parties would continue to join the BJP even after the Assembly election.
If the BJP wins over 220 seats, will we see Mr Fadnavis at Centre and you as the chief minister? Will there be a change in the state leadership?
There is no connection between the two. We would be happy if we win over 220 seats. Devendra Fadnavis will be the chief minister. There will be no change in the state leadership.
Why were senior leaders Eknath Khadse and Chandrashekhar Bawankule denied tickets?
Only the central leadership knows the reason. We (state BJP leadership) do not know anything about it.