Outgoing Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar speaks on BJP’s landslide win, internal democracy in the party and how he sees the party going forward. Excerpts from his interview with Sumi Sukanya Dutta…
landslide victory with a near clean sweep in many states. Was the party expecting this stunning performance?
We had gauged the mood of the people and this election was fought by the people of India, not by the BJP. People voted for (Narendra) Modi due to three reasons — a decisive leadership, to put national security in safe hands and ensure the prosperity of the country. The mantra of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas was personified in Modi.
In 1977, people had voted to remove Indira Gandhi. This time, people voted to establish Modi. In fact, we did not need to go and convince people. They already were. We only had to ensure that they come to the booths.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi lost against Smriti Irani from the Nehru-Gandhi bastion of Amethi. Did it come as a sweet surprise for the BJP?
Both Sanjay and Indira Gandhi had also lost at their peak. It is fortunate for Sonia Gandhi that she managed to retain her seat from Rae Bareli this time. You should visit and see Amethi and Rae Bareli, you will not believe that those seats have been represented by one of the most powerful people in Indian politics and for such a long time. Those places have no signs of development that does not happen in home turfs of even regional party chiefs. They (Gandhi family) have always taken people for granted and now people are not ready to be fooled.
What would you say about the SP-BSP alliance in Uttar Pradesh that did not work?
When there is strong chemistry, arithmetic fails. Two plus two formulae used to work but it does not stand true in today’s new India. People have seen the changes, the development that the Modi government can bring and they did not fall for any other promise being sold to them.
There has been the perception that Modi is way larger than the BJP and that might not be good for the party… that there is and will be little internal democracy in the party and most decisions will continue to be taken unilaterally. Your thoughts.
Modi is the party and also a strong party man. There is a system of unwavering internal democracy only in our party, and every three years, we hold elections right from block to national levels. We choose leaders not by dynasty but by elections. Congress came up with a slogan of Indira is India, India is Indira. We never say a leader in India, India is a leader. We say that Modi is leading us but that party is supreme and he (Modi) also owes everything to the party.
In last five years, there was intent to make some sweeping changes in textbooks etc, in view of beliefs and values that the RSS holds, but that never could really happen in a big way. Do you think the field of education will see massive changes now?
When you use the word “change” what do you mean by that? Schoolbooks are designed by states and we allow them to do so because there are diversity and cultural context. As far as the NCERT textbooks are concerned, we have already decided to reduce the school syllabi significantly because we want more physical education, value education, life-skills education and experiential learning things that make a human being perfect. The focus would be on overall learning and not rote learning.
Are you saying that there will not be any changes in the content at all? It does happen that content is added and removed in textbooks.
If it has to be about Shivaji, it has to be about Shivaji, right? We will only get truth incorporated in textbooks. Our main goal is to reduce the size of books. Overload of information is not education; education is comprehension and communication.
What changes or reforms can be expected at the university level? Will there be new appointments?
We have carried out tremendous reforms in the regulatory framework in higher education and that will continue. I have removed no one in universities, only replacements have come in for expired terms. All the appointments were and will be made on the basis of merit.
What role do you see for yourself now? Will you continue in the Cabinet? If yes, will you want to be in the same ministry?
When my term in Rajya Sabha came to an end in 2014 and the seat was given to Athawale (Ramdas), I had given a farewell speech. I said that positions come and go, but the role of being a BJP worker is the most satisfying role and a matter of pride. I believe in this philosophy. Whatever responsibility party gives me, I’ll be happy.
Last five years of this government were marked by several instances of mob lynchings and hate crimes against minorities, Dalits — mainly in the name of cow vigilantism. Will the Centre be more sensitive towards such instances now?
Any instance of lynching or vigilantism is bad and condemnable, and in the states where BJP governments are there, firm action has been taken against perpetrators of such crimes. But in West Bengal and Kerala, there was no action. Law and order is, after all, a state subject.
Also, there is a deliberate attempt by vested interests to create a perception that such groups have been emboldened under this government, which is not true.
And this is the most inclusive government. In fact, Manmohan Singh had said that the first right on the resources of this country are that of Muslims, we say it is of the poor. We do not discriminate on the basis of caste and religion.