No possibility of early Lok Sabha polls, BJP’s key figure in northeast says quoting Amit Shah.
New Delhi: Dismissing the possibility of early Lok Sabha elections, senior BJP leader and the chief architect of the party’s rise in the northeast, Himanta Biswa Sarma, said BJP president Amit Shah had told him in a “private conversation” this wouldn’t happen.
“I asked Amit Shahji privately whether there is any possibility of advancing Lok Sabha elections. He said not at all,” Sarma, a minister with multiple portfolios in Assam, said.
Speaking at ‘Off The Cuff’, where he was in conversation with ThePrint Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta and Associate Editor Ruhi Tewari, Sarma didn’t mince words in his criticism of the Congress party and its president Rahul Gandhi’s politics.
“I do not see Rahul Gandhi as a politician. He may be a good human being. He is not cut out to be a politician,” Sarma said.
“When you have northeast results getting announced and Rahul Gandhi goes out of the country. How can you say he has evolved,” Sarma asked.
Criticising the “culture” of the Congress party, Sarma said its top leadership is inaccessible to party leaders.
“BJP is a middle-class party. All its top leaders are accessible. When Congress is in power, its top leaders are all gods and demi-gods,” he said.
Sarma, a four-time MLA from Assam’s Jalukbari constituency, was with the Congress from the mid 1990s until 2015, when he joined the BJP after differences with the Congress high command as well as in the state leadership.
The BJP won the assembly elections in Assam soon after, forming the government there for the first time, and went on to form governments in the other northeastern states such as Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura.
“The northeast was destined to be with the BJP because there were remarkable development activities post-2014,” Sarma said. “It (results of assembly elections in northeastern states) is a positive vote for the Prime Minister.”
“We do not want to grow at the expense of regional parties in the northeast. BJP will try for Congress votes, not for the vote-share of regional parties,” he added.
Asked if the party’s Hindutva baggage and stand on issues like beef would hinder its growth in the northeast, Sarma said he had a “clear mandate from the party that beef issue was not on the agenda, especially in the northeast.”
Sarma also indicated the much delayed Naga Accord would be signed soon.
“Prime Minister will sign Naga agreement during this tenure (of NDA government). It is a matter of time. Insurgents’ organisations will have no option but to sign an agreement with the government. They are not getting fresh recruits,” he said.
After the party’s historic victory in Tripura, where it ousted the Left decisively, BJP’s defeat in Gorakhpur (UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s constituency) and Phulpur bypolls in Uttar Pradesh came as a rude shock to it. Sarma, however, said such bypoll losses should not be seen as a reflection of a larger trend, and often happen because of “overconfidence”.
Questioning the Congress’ claims of being a secular party, Sarma said, “I got sad when I saw (AIUDF chief Badruddin) Ajmal at Sonia Gandhi’s dinner. You accuse the RSS of being communal and you dine with Ajmal.”
Underlining the BJP’s electoral ambitions, even in jest, Sarma said by pulling out of the NDA, TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu has opened doors for the BJP in Andhra Pradesh.
Rahul doesn’t know how to incite riots and target minorities like your party does. Maybe that’s the only reason. Just keep counting the days as they are in reality, numbered.
Advancing the general election by a few months made sense keeping in mind the likely disappointing results from Rajasthan and MP. However, after the recent reverses, especially in UP, that option is almost closed. Making good use of the last year to improve the economy would be the productive thing to do.
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