By Smita Mishra / New Delhi : RSS ideologue and BJP national general secretary P Murlidhar Rao, entrusted with the mission of expanding the party in South India, is a busy man these days. Apart from being the official Prabhari for Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, Rao is now directly involved in the affairs of Telangana, his home State. His job includes harmonising contradictory forces within the party, the parivar and now the government.

-BJP national general secy P Murlidhar Rao says conversion is violence against society
-So, as long as there is evangelism, reconversion is logical. We believe conversion is also a form of violence against society and reconversion is just a response.
In a freewheeling interview with Metro India, Rao argues why recent announcements of the Telangana government will help in BJP’s expansion plans, why the party needs to make an effort to keep the Centre’s agenda focussed on development and why a belligerent Opposition may have succeeded in delaying legislative business but the BJP will gain politically from the logjam. Excerpts from the interview:What do you feel about the insistence of the Sangh Parivar on reconversion of minorities and the need for an anti-conversion law as proposed by the government? 

The RSS and the BJP firmly believe that having faith in a particular form of God is an individual choice, but there are enough cases of an entire group changing its religion, which makes it obvious that there are attempts at allurement and coercion, particularly of weaker sections. So, as long as there is evangelism, reconversion is logical. We believe conversion is also a form of violence against society and reconversion is just a response. Which means to ban reconversion (gharwapsi), we must first ban conversion. As for the government, we believe this is a societal issue and therefore such challenges cannot be thrown on the doorstep of the government. For non-BJP ruled States it is a purely political game. It is for religious leaders to sit together and chart a solution.PM Modi had asked for a moratorium on all divisive issues and total focus on development. But controversial statements from BJP MPs and Sangh Parivar outfits have derailed the PM’s agenda for weeks now. How does the party see the situation? 

The PM has the right attitude towards the Opposition, his statement in Rajya Sabha shows he wants the right atmosphere in Parliament and outside. The party leadership is engaged in creating and maintaining channels of communication between the party, the government and ideological like-minded movements to balance and harmonise. I can assure you that all issues, whether of BJP members or ideological movements, will never become full blown confrontations. A system and mechanism of communication is being put into place.The BJP leadership claimed massive support from Telangana in the Lok Sabha polls but results were not very encouraging. So how do you plan to strengthen the party in Telangana? 

Telangana is a fertile ground for expansion which the BJP national leadership has recognised. We might not have directly benefitted by supporting the T-cause, but our campaign generated immense goodwill for the party among the people of the new State. We also want to add that the party has depth of cadre. Our organisation is not weak. Every failure of the TRS government will turn into an advantage for us in the coming days. So our job is to try and position ourselves as the strongest opposition to the TRS. All other things will be taken care of in due course including the question of leadership.Telangana government has proposed 12 per cent reservation for Muslims in the State. What is your take on it? 

It is my observation that KCR has not defeated the Congress but simply replaced it. The proposal of quota for Muslims is a Congress slogan adopted by KCR now. I can only say that this and more such proposals will automatically create the logic for further strengthening of the BJP in the State.Coming to Andhra Pradesh, the BJP is in touch with several senior leaders of the Congress and YCP to expand its base. There is even speculation that you might do a Shiv Sena on the TDP in the coming days…

I would not like to see it that way. Yes, the BJP is interested in expanding base and it sees Andhra Pradesh as a potential area for expansion. Many leaders in other parties of the State feel that the BJP is the right party with its commitment for governance and development and that Narendra Modi is the right leader. The BJP would like to incorporate all such people who see the party as the vehicle to satisfy the aspirations of the newly found state. In all this, I don’t see the TDP as a rival in any manner.