No talks with Shankarsinh Vaghela on joining party, says BJP’s Gujarat in-charge

The BJP general secretary is pretty confident about the Vice Presidential election as well as the Gujarat state election

Anubhuti Vishnoi

With Shankersinh Vaghela having left the Congress and speculation over his possible move to the BJP, ThePrint speaks with BJP General Secretary and Gujarat in-charge, Bhupender Yadav.

Excerpts:

What is your assessment of the upcoming elections in Gujarat?

It is good. For a long period now, the BJP has delivered a good development model in Gujarat. The continuity and consistency of development must be maintained and the Centre and state must work together in coordination for deepening this progress. We are contesting the election for this purpose. BJP has set a target of 150 seats for the state, and the party has already begun holding a range of activities at ground level. There is a special team in the state which is working on a variety of strategies.

How will Shankersinh Vaghela’s exit impact the elections? There is speculation he may join the BJP.

Shankersinh Vagehla is an old and experienced leader of Gujarat. The decision he has taken is his alone. However, one thing is clear through his decision- that all is not well in the Congress. Across the country people are getting disillusioned by the Congress.

There is no discussion with him or on him in BJP yet, but his leaving the Congress has huge implications and will have considerable impact on Gujarat politics.

There are also reports of some dissatisfaction with the state leadership in Rajasthan and Sachin Pilot has recently hinted at possible cross-voting in the Presidential election. Your comments?

Everybody is very happy and our government is doing very well. The Chief Minister is very popular and her schemes like Bhamashah yojana and others are being successfully implemented in the state.

As far as the presidential election is concerned, the BJP has 161 MLAs and got 166 votes. Pilot is always in the air. Under Pilot’s leadership, all municipalities were lost by the Congress, the party won zero seats of the 25 Lok Sabha ones. Under Pilot, the BJP has won by the highest ever victory margin in Dholpur. Under him, the Congress has not won any election and it is under his leadership that BJP has got five more votes.

You were closely involved in consensus building for the Presidential election and bringing in the required numbers. How was it done?

BJP got a two-third majority, 43 political parties supported Ram Nath Kovind-ji. A grand consensus was there to support Kovindji and definitely this two-third majority received by him shows a big consensus and acceptability.

When the nomination was filed only 28 political parties supported Kovind-ji, when the second set of nominations were filed, 30 political parties supported him and when finally the election was held, 43 political parties supported him. The NDA is only in 17 states but 21 states supported Kovind-ji.  The task given from the leadership was to win maximum support possible. We had expected 65 per cent vote share and may have lost about 1 per cent due to invalid votes.

Were you concerned about Opposition unity and the candidature of Meira Kumar?

There was no unity at all. Because all major political parties supported Kovind-ji. BJD, AIDMK, TRS , TDP, YSR, INLD and JDU supported him.

How are you readying for the Vice President’s election?

We are sure that we will get support from more parties in favour of our candidate.

Some people have raised concerns about the RSS affiliation of those the BJP is bringing to key constitutional positions. Your view?

The BJP is coming to power everywhere…so naturally. The question is all those who are in these important position will be bound by the duty and direction provided by the Constitution.

All persons are trained within our political ideology, but the objective of these persons is to work for justice, equality of people, upliftment of people and creation of a strong Bharat with roots in its traditional values. The PM often talks of a New India, with new vision and new technology. These are the ideological inspirations we have in mind. When you hold a constitutional post, you work above politics. Kovind-ji has in his very first speech talked of being above party politics.

The Modi government is bringing in a Bill to give constitutional status to the OBC Commission . You are also Chairman of the Select Committee on the Bill.What would be its impact in upcoming elections in Gujarat and other poll bound states?

It will impact the entire country, because it is a major step towards social justice and a long awaited demand of the OBC community. This is a fight for social justice that was left unfinished because of the Congress. The constitutional amendment issue was first mentioned in 2001 in the Handique committee report but Congress did not act on it for last 70 years or even in the last ten years. So this is a very big achievement by Prime Minister Modi.

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