In the current poll season, where corruption has emerged as a key issue, the president of the Bharatiya Janata Party , Nitin Gadkari , talks to ET on his party’s prospects as well as the campaign spearheaded by members of the civil society against the UPA government, in an exclusive interview. Excerpts:
Your party had backed Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption campaign. Do you agree with a joint committee of civil society and government drafting the Lokpal bill?
In a democracy everyone has a right. When there is so much deterioration what option do we give people? It would have been better to take opposition parties, even the Left, into the panel. As the main opposition party, BJP should have a say in the legislation. If we have any reservations with the draft we will express it when it is taken up in Parliament.
How do you see the entire agitation over the Lokpal bill?
It was an expression of the people’s anger against corruption. Whoever comes forward on an issue like this will get public support. 2G spectrum, CWG and black money involve huge amounts… There is anger against the government. Political credibility is low, but if all politicians are discredited, who will have belief in the system. Will civil society run the country? Is there no corruption in the judiciary, media and civil society? How is only politics responsible?
Do you see a Hazare effect in the current assembly elections?
We should look at it beyond politics. Let there be not just power politics but also socio-economic reforms.
What issues do you think dominate these assembly elections?
Inflation is a major issue. Bad and corrupt governance are linked to this. There is a lot of anger towards the UPA and Congress because of issues like 2G spectrum and Commonwealth Games .
What are BJP’s prospects in these assembly polls?
In Assam we are hopeful of a non-Congress government coming to power. In West Bengal, TN and Kerala we will make our presence felt.
Would you view the results as a referendum on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh ??
The Prime Minister says “I don’t know” on everything. Whether it is 2G spectrum, ISRO deal or CWG he doesn’t know anything but corruption continues. He has signed on every file of CWG. This seems to be running “ram bharose.”
Do you foresee mid-term polls?
BJP will not do anything to destabilise the government.
What is BJP’s strategy in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls?
We will work towards increasing our vote percentage by at least 10. Our focus will be the villager, poor and the farmer.
How far will Hindutva be an issue?
Hindutva is not a political issue. The people should understand Hindutva as defined by the Supreme Court and Swami Vivekananda. Hindutva is our soul, not an election issue.
Who will be BJP’s prime ministerial candidate?
We are a democratic party and not a party where the mother and son are leaders who dictate to others. Our parliamentary board will decide who will be the candidate. We have several potential leaders who can be prime minister. Congress has decided its candidate will be either decided by the Gandhi family or belong to it. We will fight as NDA and the alliance will decide the leader.
What do you have to say about the JPC versus PAC debate?
Both the panels can do their work like CBI and Enforcement Directorate (ED) are both investigating. There is no contradiction and both reports will be in national interest. Congress seems to be worried about the outcome of the PAC probe.
David Headley and Tahawwur Hussain Rana have implicated the Pakistani government and ISI in the Mumbai terror attack…
Till Pakistan stops sponsoring cross-border terrorism there is no point in talking or in cricket diplomacy. If Pakistan does not take any credible action, India should have no dialogue. What is the point if they are talking here and terrorists are infiltrating into India? Agencies