Lok Sabha MP and Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari is confident of his party ending its 21-year exile from the national capital in the ensuing Assembly elections. In a free-wheeling conversation with Parvez Sultan, Tiwari opens up on the BJP’s poll strategy and the protests against CAA, while condemning the provocative slogans and statements by party colleagues
We’ve seen top BJP leaders, including Union Home Minister Amit Shah and party president JP Nadda campaigning rigorously in Delhi. How has that helped boost the party’s campaign?
Amit Shahji’s strategy to hold street corner meetings has proved to be a super hit, as it has helped us connect with voters.
He himself went door to door, injecting new zeal into our grassroots-level workers. Our top leaders raised a range of topics — pollution, water, unauthorised colonies and houses for all — during their public interactions.
The people heard them live and understood the politics being played by the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party on these issues.
With just three days to go for the polls, how do you rate your party’s chances?
The public response to our campaign has been overwhelming. Even people, who were silent till a few days back, are vocal against the government.
Our party leadership does a review of our campaign every day, and, based on the feedback that we have received, I can say with confidence that the BJP will get 50-plus seats.
We’re on a strong footing and will win all the seats comfortably.
You said the people were sitting silent. What does it mean?
The AAP had managed to build a fake narrative through television and newspaper advertisements. They put up giant hoardings with misleading claims, leaving the people baffled. While not a single individual was getting the desired benefits of government schemes, he was lulled into the belief that his neighbour probably was.
It was senior leaders, including Amit Shah and JP Nadda, who managed to dispel the myth. They unmasked the AAP government. A reality check of AAP’s performance by the media also helped us bust the fraud being played on the people.
The last nail in their coffin was the protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act at Shaheen Bagh, as it bared their conspiracy. The AAP and Congress had conspired (against the Centre) in the name of anti-CAA protest. I’ve been interacting with a large section of the (minority) community. They (Muslims) were surprised and shocked to learn of the machinations of the AAP and Congress and want to teach them a lesson in the elections.
They have realised that the AAP and the Congress were using them as pawns for votes. Bringing this conspiracy to the forefront underlines the success story of the campaign strategy devised by the home minister and our party president. However, a section of people is still not ready or willing to accept the truth about Shaheen Bagh.
Where do you stand on the Shaheen Bagh protest? Two fellow BJP leaders have made provocative statements against the demonstrators.
Some anti-social elements are hiding in the crowd of protesters at Shaheen Bagh. They are the conspirators, who are peddling lies and creating confusion among the people. A few of them are professionals in the job. A sting video has shown how they are getting Rs 600-Rs 700 per day or food in return for what they are doing. What started as a protest has turned into a celebration.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the Shaheeh Bagh protest an experiment. They (protesters) are putting their children on the forefront knowing full well that Modi’s police won’t hurt women and children. Shaheen Bagh has earned notoriety because of these anti-social elements. They raised anti-national slogans and even chanted death to the PM and the home minister.
Despite all this, I will say that they’ve a right to protest. But they should go to Jantar Mantar, instead of blocking the road (at Shaheen Bagh). They may be confused (about the CAA) but they shouldn’t mislead others. Over 10 lakh people are suffering because of them every day.
The AAP and Congress played this dirty trick on the people by making it an issue that pits the Hindus against Muslims.
It led to the firing incident. An inflammatory slogan was raised and the people responded saying, ‘goli maron (shoot them)’. Our party condemns such slogans. There are appropriate laws to deal with traitors. The AAP and Congress want to disturb harmony. People shouldn’t fall into their trap. I appeal to them to refrain from raising such slogans.
What was this ‘experiment’ and what was it intended to achieve?
This was an experiment aimed at dividing the society. AAP handed out cheques to rioters (protesting CAA). The intention was clear. The Congress and AAP were rattled after the nation gave an overwhelming majority to Modiji in the Lok Sabha elections. They now want to exact revenge by distorting the country’s image.
The conspiracy was hatched in Delhi. The plot was devised by the Congress and the AAP later joined hands, sensing they were trailing us. They put all their might into it. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said he was with Shaheen Bagh and those who raised such slogans.
Sharjeel Imam (who talked of carving out Assam from the rest of the country at Shaheen Bagh) stood with Amanatullah Khan. It is now clear that the AAP is involved in such activities. But the conspiracy has backfired on them.
Do you think the BJP’s manifesto will be the poll-clincher?
We’ve said all subsidies will continue. We’ll give plenty more than what the AAP has offered. I believe free bicycles to school-going girls and electric scooters for college-goers will make a difference. The AAP has stopped pension to the elderly. If elected, we’ll not only restore but also raise the amount.
We have proposed to set up Unauthorsied Colony Development Board for re-development of illegal colonies. We’ll also give two-room flats to slum dwellers.
Work on the redevelopment of slum clusters on land owned by the Delhi Development Authority has already begun. We’ve also promised job guarantee to contractual employees upto 58 years of age.