INTERVIEW | ‘Opposition misguiding people by promising religion-based quota’

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh says Rs 400 paar’ target is based on people’s confidence in BJP, rubbishes INDIA bloc’s Constitution change allegation.
INTERVIEW | ‘Opposition misguiding people by promising religion-based quota’

Having a hectic campaign schedule as a star campaigner of the BJP, Raksha Mantri and party candidate from the prestigious Lucknow seat, Rajnath Singh is cris-crossing the country addressing back-to-back poll rallies. So far, he has addressed over 50 public meetings across over a dozen states. Taking time out
from his busy schedule, country’s defence minister gives an insight into BJP’s strategy, approach in ensuing elections while talking to Namita Bajpai.

Q. The opposition narrative claiming that the BJP would change country’s Constitution considering party’s target of ‘400 paar.’ Your take.
A. Look Congress has no credible issues. They want to contest the elections over non-issues. While we are running our campaign based on the decade-long performance of our government, they do not have anything to show. They are just spreading the lies. As far as our target is concerned have set it after evaluating our capabilities and the confidence people have in us. They are misguiding people by promising religion-based reservation. When our Constitution does not have any such provision then why to mislead people unnecessary.

Q. What do you think, how the anger and discontent in the Kashtriya Samaj would impact BJP’s prospects in ensuing elections?
A. There is no anger or discontent among Kashtriyas. Sometimes it is claimed that Brahmins are angry, sometimes Kashtriya, especially, during the elections. Actually, no community is unhappy.

Q. What is your assessment about the number of seats BJP will get in Uttar Pradesh? In previous Lok Sabha polls, of the 16 seats of initial two phases, the BJP had walked away with 10. Your assessment this time.

A.  We are going to get more seats than previous Lok Sabha elections this time. We are confident, there is no doubt about it. This time, we have already
scored more in the first two phases itself than the corresponding phases of 2019.

Q. Your take on Rahul Gandhi switching over to Rae Bareli from Amethi?
A. I will just say.. he should not have left the battle field for a safer seat.

Q. Opposition is accusing you of turning the discourse communal as you are lagging in the first two phases?
A. There is no question of it. We are working for all the sections equally without any discrimination on religious lines. The welfare schemes focus on everyone equally. They should substantiate their accusation with even one such instance which could prove that we are discriminating on religious lines. We are focusing on holistic development of the country. We are ensuring that no section of the society remains devoid of development irrespective of class, Caste, creed and religion. If all the sections will not progress equally, we will not be able to realize our dream of ‘Viksit Bharat.’

Q. Do you think that the PDA (Pichhda, Dalit, Alpsankhyak) formula given by SP chief Akhilesh Yadav is affecting BJP’s caste bouquet?
A. We don’t indulge in caste driven politics.

Q. What would you say about the issues of unemployment, inflation, price rise ringing on the ground?
A. There is an attraction for PM Modi at the ground. Given his achievements and his governance of the last 10 years, I can say that people have a very positive feeling towards him. People are happy with the rising stature and prestige of the country at international level. Moreover, the benefits of social welfare schemes have reached the lowest level of the society with utmost honesty. There is no corruption or leakage in the deliverance of those benefits.

Q. How do you evaluate party prospects in southern states, especially, Tamil Nadu and Kerala?
A. We are going to increase out tally certainly. I, myself, have held half a dozen rallies each in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Not only me but even the political analysts believe that the BJP would get seats in both the states. In Andhra Pradesh, we are doing very good. In Telangana, our tally is likely to go beyond four which we had won in previous election.

Q. Don’t you feel that an alliance with AIADMK would have been more fruitful for the BJP Tamil Nadu?
A. The present scenario is equally good. With our current allies, we are going to register our presence in the state emphatically this time.
Q. An impact of repeating sitting MPs facing anti-incumbency was visible on the ground, especially, in western UP?
A. In BJP, the ticket are given after taking each such factor into account. Even then, if there was a certain amount of anti-incumbency against any candidate, people are focused on voting for the development having taken place during the last 10 years and its growth trajectory. India is growing exponentially, its
stature has gone up several notches  in the world, the size of economy has grown. In front of these factor, everything else becomes diminutive, meaningless.

Q. Will the next national election in 2029 be held on the lines of  ‘One Nation One Election’ proposal?
A. We are all for it. However, the modalities would be worked out after thorough confabulations. It is the need of the hour in the country and a consensus on
the issue is also required.
Q. How will you wash off the allegation of being a washing machine for the tainted leaders of other parties?
A. BJP has no machine. Those who are coming were good when in their original party and after joining BJP they suddenly become tainted.

Q. There is a narrative over the ‘misuse’ of ED and CBI to intimidate the opposition leaders. Two CMs of opposition ruled states are in jail?
A. The agencies will work as per their mandate. If anyone feels of being victimized, he/she should approach the court. If they are wrongly implicated by any agency, they will get the relief from court. Why do they indict the BJP?  The courts in many cases have given order against the government as well.

Q. Congress leader and former Punjab CM Charanjeet Singh Channi has again called the terror attack on IAF convoy in Poonch an election stunt and orchestrated by the BJP? Your take.
A. These are all baseless allegations. Our politicians should refrain from giving hollow statements over border security   and supreme sacrifice by our jawans and officers. What do they want to prove? It is extremely unfortunate that they are seeking the evidence of surgical strike in Uri and air strike in Balakot.

Q. You have said that we would not have to take PoK back, it would come on its own? How will that happen?
A. I have been saying this for the past two and a half years. The way development is taking place in Jammu and Kashmir and India is treading ahead on path of development, people on the other side would never like to struggle to make both ends meet, satiate their hunger by snatching bread from other’s mouth. People across the border are also witnessing growth in J&K. A few months back, they had even shouted slogans in favour of India. It will happen on its own.

Q. India and China border dispute is also an issue being raised by opposition? Are the talks with China on?
A. The talks are progressing well. Both sides hope to find a solution to issues and border standoff in eastern Ladakh.

Q. Opposition, especially in UP, is making ‘Agniveer scheme’ an issue over its duration? Do you plan to fine tune it in future?
A. Let the outcome of the scheme be there. After working for four years in Army, a 18-19-year-old will have at least an amount of Rs 11 lakh in his hand. They will get reservation in different services like defence PSUs, paramilitary forces and even corporate houses, they will have the certificate of their stint with army. However, let me say, we are open to make improvement. If need be, we will make the change but not play with the life of any youth.

Q. You are an MP from Lucknow. What are your prospects?
A. I think people of Lucknow would be better placed to say anything about my prospects. Development is there for everyone to see. I have lined up a whole lot of projects for the constituency for the next stint. A DRDO lab has already started functioning here. Brahmos missile is set to be manufactured here as Lucknow is one of the six nodes of defence corridor.

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