NDA will return to power in 2014: Nitin Gadkari (Interview)By George Joseph, IANS
Sunday, July 4, 2010
NEW DELHI - Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Nitin Gadkari is confident that his party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) will return to power in the Lok Sabha polls in 2014. He denies being remote-controlled by the RSS and claims the alliance crisis in Bihar is “almost over”.
Gadkari does not think that the multi-party NDA, which ruled India from 1998 to 2004, has been weakened because parties like the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) have left it.
“It is a to and fro process,” Gadkari told IANS in an exclusve interview at the BJP headquarters. “Some parties might have left, but some other parties are keen to come into the NDA.”
Can he name the parties keen to join the NDA? Gadkari: “We will disclose everything at the appropriate time.”
The 53-year-old politican insists that BJP cadres have been activated all across the country since he took charge of the main opposition party over six months ago, succeeding Rajnath Singh.
“The mood is upbeat among party activists. The NDA will ride to power again at the centre,” Gadkari said.
He cites the opposition’s decision to unite for Monday’s ‘Bharat bandh’ to protest rising prices and the fuel price hike as a major achievement of his short tenure.
“We have been able to assemble all the parties on the burning issue of soaring prices of essential commodities.”
But what about fissures with the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and his disparaging remarks about Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) president Lalu Prasad?
“It is a thing of the past. It is over,” he replied. The BJP president had called the two politicians “barking dogs” for allegedly going soft on the government.
Gadkari is also upbeat about his immediate challenge - the Bihar assembly polls due in October.
“The crisis is almost over,” he said about the rift between the BJP and JD-U Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
What are the electoral chances of the alliance? “We will win. Hundred percent,” he said.
Gadkari, who became the BJP president after the party was routed in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, denied he had any problems with the party’s star leader, L.K. Advani.
“I had absolutely no issues with Advaniji or any other leader, seniors or juniors.”
Is his lack of experience at the national level a problem?
“I think most of these impressions are created by a section of the media, which has its own perceptions, rather than the reality,” he said.
He denied he was remote-controlled by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in decision making.
“Of course, the Sangh is part of my conviction and the past. But the talk that I am directed by the RSS is far from true,” Gadkari said.
According to him, the party’s decision to take back former external affairs minister Jaswant Singh was his own decision.
So is former Madhya Pradesh chief minster Uma Bharati also on the return path? Gadkari said the “party will discuss the issue in detail at the appropriate time and take an appropriate decision”.
Is Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan opposing Uma’s re-entry? Gadkari parried the question.
Gadkari claimed that groupism or infighting in the BJP was on the wane.
“A major example of dissidence was cited in Rajasthan. But we could achieve a comfortable win for Ram Jethmalani in the Rajya Sabha election.”
As for Karnataka, dissidence was by and large over, he said. And there “is no dissidence in the Bihar unit”.
(George Joseph can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)