INTERVIEW | ‘We will drastically improve our tally from South & East’

BJP president JP Nadda says party has no agenda to amend the Constitution, Opposition misleading people with false narrative and fanning it across the country.
BJP president JP Nadda
BJP president JP Nadda

BJP chief Jagat Prakash Nadda asserts there is no anti-incumbency in the general election because of the people’s trust in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership and “no trust” at all in Opposition which is ‘muddavihin” (issueless) and “Sankalp-rahit” (without resolve). He says the BJP has no agenda to amend the Constitution. “We are committed to preserving the vision of Babasaheb Ambedkar’s Constitution”, he said in an interview with Rajesh Kumar Thakur. Excerpts:

BJP and its NDA allies allege the Opposition, led by Congress, has a plan to cut into the quotas of SC/STs and OBCs to give them to Muslims…

Two facts need to be kept in mind: one is that the Congress never wanted reservation for OBCs. The Congress followed the policy of Muslim appeasement. Nehru ji, Indira ji and Rajiv Gandhi did not implement reservation for OBCs. Rajiv Gandhi, as the leader of opposition, had vehemently opposed it on the floor of the Lok Sabha when it was debated during the VP Singh regime. Dr Manmohan Singh had categorically said that the first right on the nation’s resources is that of minorities, especially Muslims. He never retracted and Congress also never distanced itself from his comment. It is beyond doubt that Congress wants to provide reservation to Muslims; they made attempts in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Their earlier attempts were thwarted by courts. It was well settled since Independence that there would be no reservation on the basis of religion.

You have set a target of 400-plus seats for NDA. From where will you win so many seats?

We are going to drastically improve our tally from South and East. We are largely retaining our tally in the rest of the country, in some cases even improving our performance. We set this target based on the ground assessment.

The INDIA bloc claims that the polling percentage in the last phases was poor due to anti-incumbency against the Modi government. Your opinion.

I cannot stop anyone from daydreaming. But, the fact is that supporters of that alliance are not coming out to vote seeing no hope in the opportunistic alliance. This could be one of the few reasons for the low polling. Besides, hot weather is also causing a marginal drop in the voting percentage.

The Opposition says inflation and unemployment are the two key issues against the Modi government. How do you counter it?

They (Opposition leaders) are masters in misleading the people through false narratives and fanning them across the country. These existential threats have emerged after the Modi government heralded a new era of development politics. Everyone knows how inflation has been kept under control by the government. It never went into double digits despite severe global disruptions due to Covid, the Russia-Ukraine armed conflict and the West Asia unrest. As far as employment is concerned, the Modi Govt has created enormous job opportunities through various schemes and it is reflected in EPFO and RBI data. The Opposition is not referring to the official data but trying to mislead people by magnifying data from unverified sources.

The latest PLFS data of the last six years suggest that employment has increased in the country from 46.8% in 2017-18 to 56% in 2022-23. Similarly, the labour force participation has also gone up from 49.8 per cent in 2017-18 to 57.9% in 2022-23. The unemployment rate has declined from 6% in 2017-18 to 3.2% in 2022-23. Unemployment rate in rural areas has declined from 5.3% in 2017-18 to 2.4% in 2022-23. In urban areas, it has reduced from 7.7% to 5.4% during the same period.

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal claims that Modi will not be the PM after he is 75 years of age in September 2025. Your reaction.

It’s yet another fake narrative that they are attempting to create. Let me tell Arvind Kejriwal and company and INDIA partners that you have nothing to be happy about Modi ji turning 75. There is no such provision in the BJP constitution. Narendra Modi ji will complete his tenure and he will continue to lead the country in the future.

What’s your projection of seats from South Indian states?

Polling has just happened in Andhra Pradesh & Telangana. So I won’t be able to give the exact number of seats, but I can tell you with certainty that BJP will emerge as the single largest party in South. We will be winning seats in all the states.

Do you see the BJP candidate from Rae Bareli defeating Rahul Gandhi from the traditional seat of the Gandhi family?

Isn’t it true that Amethi too was considered a traditional seat of the Gandhi family? He lost Amethi in 2019 and this time, he chose not to contest from the so-called traditional Gandhi family seat. As far as Rae Bareli is concerned, our candidate Dinesh Pratap Singh contested in 2019 too. Sonia Gandhi’s victory margin hit a low for the first time in 15 years.

The Opposition accuses you of planning to amend the Constitution to curtail reservation….

We have no such agenda. We are committed to preserving the vision of Babasaheb Ambedkar’s Constitution.

In Odisha, your party is contesting without having an alliance with BJD which had supported you on the national level. Has the relationship with the party deteriorated?

BJP and BJD fought elections separately in 2009, 2014 & 2019 as well, so nothing is new about it. As far as supporting the government on national issues is concerned, it is a different matter. We are competing in an election that does not mean we are enemies. In a democracy, no one is an enemy and every party has a role to play in nation building.

What’s your projection about Delhi’s 7 seats?

The BJP will retain all the 7 seats. As far as the Congress candidate (KanhaiyaKumar) is concerned, it is a confirmation that Congress and its partners support the ‘tukde tukde gang’.

AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal says his bail is a victory of democracy. How do you take it?

At least they agree that democracy is alive and thriving in India. It clearly shows that opposition’s allegations and manufactured narratives in India and abroad about the state of Indian democracy are wrong.

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