Kailash Vijayvargiya: 'The people of West Bengal see the BJP and the leadership of Modi as the only alternative'
Interview with Kailash Vijayvargiya, BJP national general secretary.
Kailash Vijayvargiya, national general secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the party’s central observer for West Bengal, is one of the main architects of the saffron party’s growth in the State. A six-time Member of the Legislative Assembly from Indore and a former Minister from Madhya Pradesh, Vijayvargiya is one of the party’s main leaders spearheading its election campaign. In an interview to Frontline, Vijayvargiya spoke about the BJP’s prospects in the State. Excerpts:
This is the first time that the BJP is a factor in the Assembly election in West Bengal.
Where does the party stand now?
People are comparing two governments—the Central government and the State government—and are comparing two leaders, the one at the Centre and the one in the State. All the schemes that are being launched by the Prime Minister are reaching the accounts of the beneficiaries with transparency. There is no scope for corruption. The Central government is working in such a manner that there are no middlemen in the scene. In the case of the State government, there is a middleman in every government scheme. Everywhere there is syndicate, corruption and everywhere people must give a commission to enjoy the benefits of the government scheme. The people of the State are seeing that while one government is giving benefits directly, another is taking commission from the beneficiaries.
Not one Minister in the Central government has been accused of any kind of corruption. In the case of government here in Bengal, there is rampant corruption among the Ministers and panchayat members. Her nephew has been giving protection to the coal mafia, to the sand mafia, the gold mafia and cattle smugglers. Power has been given to anti-socials elements in the syndicate. Those who were anti-socials during the time of the CPI(M) rule have become political leaders.
People voted Mamata Banerjee for being a combative and honourable lady, but after she came to power we saw that her government was neither honourable nor had any idealism. There has been no development anywhere; there is not a place where women have not had to struggle to retain their dignity; and corruption in the bureaucracy has become rampant. People of Bengal feel that they have been deceived. They feel ‘we were promised a government of Maa Maati Maanush [the catchword of the Trinamool government meaning mother, land, humanity], we were promised a sonar Bangla [golden Bengal], but instead we got a koilar Bangla [Bengal made of coal]’. The ray of hope that the people are seeing is in the form of Narendra Modi and the BJP.
The people of Bengal were deceived by a Congress government and the CPI(M) government, too. There has been no development work [in the State]. I say with great solemnity that there was a time when Bengal was one of the most developed States in the country, but today it is one of the most backward States, which has suffered losses upon losses. A State that was number one in education has fallen behind so much. Until the 1970s, Bengal accounted for 24.8 per cent of the industrial growth in the country, today it has fallen to 2.3 per cent. No new investments are coming here because of the law and order situation. Bengal’s land is fertile, its culture and literature are rich, its people are known for their intellect and intelligence. In diverse fields, be it music, singing, dance, arts, Bengal has left its mark. Now, all that Bengal was recognised for is fading. Bengal’s contribution in the sphere of spirituality has also been immense. We have had great spiritual figures such as Swami Vivekananda, Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, but even their followers do not feel safe in Bengal anymore.
A government should be able to list its achievements over the last 10 years; showcase its industrial growth, its excellent law and order situation, infrastructure development, growth in agriculture. Let Mamataji give one example of what she has achieved in Bengal. She has failed in every field. If there is anything that has happened here it is mafia raj, syndicate raj, gunda raj, politicisation of the administration; there is evidence of them being hand in glove with criminals. The internal security of the State is in danger because of illegal immigration. These are the main issues in front of the people and the only alternative they are seeing is the BJP and the leadership of Modiji.
What is the alternative the BJP is offering?
Quality education, industrialisation, major infrastructure building, 100 per cent irrigation. After Mamataji drove the Tatas out of Bengal, no industrialist has had the courage to invest in the State. We will create a proper atmosphere for investment. Wherever there are towns and cities on the coast, there is great scope for industrial growth. The location is ideal here, the people are dynamic, there are mines, there is surplus electricity, but in spite of having everything, there is still no industrial growth here. That is because there is no proper atmosphere for investment. The cheapest and the best labour can be found in Bengal. There is everything available in Bengal except political will.
There is so much scope in the field of education as well. Rabindranath Tagore set up Visva Bharati in Santiniketan, but I was surprised to see the state of that great institution now. There is constant interference from outside forces. There is strife and unrest.
Another important factor is that Bengal is a border State and the country’s internal security is at risk if this State is not in the hands of the right party. We are observing the way cattle smuggling, arms rackets, and fake currency rackets are happening with the support of the administration. Our aim is not just to form a government in Bengal, but to ensure that no single State becomes a danger for the rest of the country.
There is a perception that the Bengal BJP is becoming a breakaway faction of the Trinamool.
If a river merges with the sea, the river loses its identity and becomes a part of the sea. Similarly, the BJP is the biggest party in the world, and whoever comes into it becomes a part of the BJP.
Do you attribute the BJP’s rise in Bengal to an anti-incumbency wave?
In politics victory and defeat are attributable two reasons: positive factor and negative factor. The BJP’s political triumphs are because of the positive factor working for it. People of Bengal are behind the BJP because they want development to take place. In 2011, people voted to remove the CPI(M); they did not care who was coming in its place. Today, people are thinking about who is going to come to power.