What Amit Shah did was floor management. NDA secured more votes than what it actually has in the House, BJP’s Ram Madhav tells ThePrint’s Jyoti Malhotra.
The following transcript has been lightly edited.
Jyoti Malhotra: Welcome to ThePrint, I have with me Mr Ram Madhav, senior BJP leader who has influence across the parties which stretches from domestic politics to foreign policy. Mr Ram Madhav, welcome to ThePrint.
Ram Madhav: Thank you
JM: My first question to you is on the deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha, the victory that the BJP pulled off. How did you manage it? You didn’t have the numbers but you still pulled it off?
RM: You see, we did have enough numbers, and I would say our floor managers have done an extremely good job and I would also say the floor managers of the Opposition were so poor that they could not get all their own votes itself.
JM: But you did see the numbers, you don’t have a majority in the Rajya Sabha so how did you…
RM: Nobody has a majority in Rajya Sabha, it was ultimately bringing several parties together and trying to get their required numbers. That’s why I said, our floor managers, our leaders did a fairly good job and we secured more votes than what NDA actually has in the House.
JM: How did you do that?
RM: As I said, talking to all the concerned parties, their leaders, convincing them to support the candidates. Today, Mr Harivansh Narayan Singh is one of the most suitable candidates for the post of deputy chairmanship in the House, he is a senior leader, senior journalist who has worked in all parts of the country. He knows the whole country well, he is a really suitable person for the job and besides us, even Mr Nitish Kumar has made a lot of effort to secure the support of various parties, especially the support of Naveen Patnaik was crucial and we secured his support.
JM: So, you allowed Mr Nitish Kumar to lead the charge?
RM: No, not really. I mean from BJP’s side it was Shri Amit Shah, he has spoken to many parties, many leaders.
JM: What did he do? What did Mr Amit Shah do?
RM: I will say that is what is called floor management; we reach out to different parties.
JM: Who did he speak to?
RM: No, that I don’t have to disclose here. Only thing is, all the NDA partners have extended their full support, even Arun Jaitley saab who was not well. I mean he is doing well but he underwent that major surgery, he also came to the Parliament. And we’ve found some Congress people missing, saying that they were unwell and they were in the hospital. We took it up with all seriousness and it seems that on the opposition side the seriousness was lacking.
JM: You’re saying that Congress people were missing?
RM: That’s what I read in the papers. Some of their own members didn’t turn up.
JM: There were two or three Congress MPs.
RM: That’s what papers say.
JM: That’s what they are saying. There were also reports that people from the Trinamool Congress were missing. Is that correct?
RM: That’s what I read in the papers.
JM: At the end of the day, it was the BJP that led the charge, not only with its allies…
RM: All our NDA partners have taken this election with utmost seriousness. Our party leadership has worked hard, all the leaders in the NDA constituent partners have worked hard and brought so many extra votes, that’s why the NDA got 125 votes.
JM: Were you surprised?
RM: Not really surprised, I knew we were going to get good support. We were expecting a couple of more parties to support us but they decided to abstain.
JM: Like which ones?
RM: Like we expected PDP to support us…we requested them to support us, but they decided to abstain.
JM: But the fact that you pulled out of the coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir but you still managed to get their abstention. That’s quite significant.
RM: Certainly we’re happy that they decided to abstain. We would have been happier had they supported us but they decided to finally stay away from the election.
JM: So, what does this mean? The deputy chairman now is part of your alliance. What does this mean for politics?
RM: One need not try to read too much into it, it’s a good effort to secure support in favour of a very able and very eligible person to head the Rajya Sabha as deputy chairman, and once he is the chairman he is the chairman for all 245 members of the Rajya Sabha.
JM: But going forward, we have three state elections coming up and in less than a year, the national elections are coming up. Do you think this is some sort of a sign of things to come?
RM: You see, in all these states it is a straight fight between BJP and Congress and we are quite hopeful of doing well in all the four states and when I say four, it includes Mizoram.