Interview with Rajnath Singh, BJP president.
BJP president Rajnath Singh refuses to see this round of Assembly elections as the semi-final for the Lok Sabha elections. He says each election is different and important in its own right, with different factors at work. Excerpts from an interview:
Were you expecting these results or were there any surprises for you?
We were expecting to do much better. Delhi certainly was a big surprise. We were confident of winning in Delhi. We knew we were coming back in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Even in Rajasthan, despite some reservations, we thought we would come back to power because the government has done tremendous work. We are certainly disappointed with the Delhi and Rajasthan results, but Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have been on expected lines.
What worked for you in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, but did not in Delhi and Rajasthan?
At the moment, it seems our selection of candidates went wrong in Delhi and Rajasthan. In Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the governments had done exceedingly well, so we were expecting to win anyway.
You spoke about some reservations in Rajasthan. What were they?
There was a lack of coordination among various State leaders and the Chief Minister. Had there been better coordination, it would have helped.
Do you think these results are an indication of the shape of things to come after the Lok Sabha elections? Would you call these the semi-final?
No, this is no semi-final. Every election is important and different in its own right, with different factors at work. So the verdict in these elections, which has depended on a number of local factors more than national factors, cannot be an indication of things to come at the time of the Lok Sabha elections. This I can say from the experience in 2003, when we won the Assembly elections in November and went to polls early for the Lok Sabha in 2004. Everyone knows what happened.
But your defeat in Delhi means the voters have rejected your charges against the Congress on price rise, non-performance and so on?
Price rise will remain an issue in the Lok Sabha elections as well. The United Progressive Alliance governments failures on all fronts, including internal security, will be our main thrust. But in a State election, there are different factors at work, with local factors dominating. In a Parliament election national factors take precedence. Besides, people also tend to look at who is more likely to form the government and who will be the leader. We have a leader like Advaniji to lead us and we have increased the number of our allies, so we will be better placed to form the government. Besides, our performance on the economic front was better than the UPA governments.
Do you think terrorism will emerge as a big factor in the Lok Sabha elections?
The UPA governments failure to deal with terrorism will be an important issue in the elections. They have failed at the diplomatic level, too, to deal effectively with cross-border terrorism. They have failed to generate the required international pressure on Pakistan to get it to act against terror elements acting from its soil.
Did the Mumbai terror attacks have a bearing on the elections?
People certainly were angry but we did nothing to stoke that anger. It will remain a matter of debate as to how that anger influenced voting. But we did not try to gain any political mileage out of it. On the contrary, we declared our full support and cooperation to the government in fighting terrorism.
What makes you believe that the NDA will come back to power?
The able leadership of Advani ji, our governments record in the past, and the growing disenchantment of the people with the UPA government.
But the possibility of a BJP or BJP-led government makes the minorities feel insecure.
We follow a policy of justice to all, appeasement of none. The BJP does not believe in discrimination on the basis of caste, creed or religion. We dont differentiate on the basis of Hindu, Muslim, Sikh or Christian.