BJP general secretary Muralidhar Rao talks about why he thinks Rahul Gandhi is still not a ‘player’ in country’s political arena, the Jay Shah controversy and party’s south push.
The Congress suddenly appears to be on an upswing. The party’s vice-president, Rahul Gandhi, looks more confident. His speech at Berkeley was well received. Do you think that the Congress’s fortunes are changing?
There certainly seems to be a sudden eruption of Congress on social media. It is only a political campaign keeping in mind important state elections. It is an invested activity. It is not a spontaneous activity. Once the elections are over, the Congress will again go to sleep. The present activity is only keeping Gujarat elections in mind. The party is incapable of sustaining it.
What about Rahul Gandhi?
People are not considering him a player. Only the Congress thinks he is an option because they don’t have the confidence that there can be any other person within their party. If the Congress has no better person to offer, it is their problem. People don’t have any limitations to accept the Congress offer (Rahul Gandhi) as an option. People are not considering him at all.
Rahul Gandhi seems to be getting a good response in Gujarat…
It is a party-planned drive. Otherwise the Congress is doubtful about its survival. The response to my party is record-breaking. The result of Gujarat elections will be even more overwhelming for the BJP.
But then the people of Gujarat seem to be unhappy…
The people of Gujarat are wise. Their trust in the BJP and (Prime Minister Narendra) Modiji is very high. Even if there is any inconvenience or difficulty on account of the GST or demonetisation, they have seen this as a responsive government and see it as sincere leadership.
Do you think that too many things happened at the same time? Demonetisation and then the GST…
It is part of the reform process. It could not have been gradual or incremental. The meaning of Modiji’s mandate would have been misread. People would have started feeling, what is the use of Modiji and single-party leadership? And that if even this government is incapable of taking steps, then the country cannot be changed. It would have been a trap. It is better to err on the side of reform than inaction. Expectations are too high from this leadership. Modiji cannot be on the incremental side. He has to create breakthroughs and work on path-breaking initiatives and unconventional solutions.
You are in charge of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu for the BJP. Can you tell us about party’s southward push?
The next step for expansion of the party is towards the south and the east. The south push is critical, as nearly 130 Lok Sabha seats come from the region, where our presence has been weak. In our forward march, the south is important. The Congress had been able to rule the country for a long time because of its deep-rooted penetration in south. Now that the Congress has declined in a significant way, there is a need for the presence of a national party, which BJP will fulfil. Our Mission South is very important for 2019 (Lok Sabha elections).
So you don’t see any change in the fortunes of the Congress?
Not as long as Congress doesn’t start playing negative politics. Like going to JNU and joining forces with people who abuse Bharat Mata. And in order to oppose the BJP, they end up opposing national interests, Indian sentiments, Indian pride symbols, supporting cow slaughter. These definitely are signs that have emanated from a negative mind.
Lastly, your party president Amit Shah’s son Jay was in the news for his business dealings. How does the party view the controversy?
There was no merit in the story that appeared in a news portal. The problem is that the media, like the Congress, is trying to become important by doing irrelevant stories. This time, they are in a soup as people behind it are doing it as a political campaign. The portal will not be able to defend the news report. There is nothing that can be presented as illegal or immoral. That’s why Jay Shah took the decision to file a criminal defamation suit.