Saturday, December 29, 2007
December 28, 2007
Chief Minister Narendra Modi says the BJP's impressive win in Gujarat is just the beginning of the end of the UPA government at the Centre. India Today Associate Editor Uday Mahurkar spoke to Modi soon after his swearing-in.
Q: So who has won? Moditva or Hindutva?
A: The term Moditva has been coined by enemies of our ideology after they failed to defeat Hindutva. There is no such thing as Moditva. No leader can rise without the help of party workers.
Q: But now you are seen as someone who is bigger than the party.
A: Absolutely false. Those who see me as bigger than the party fail to see the shoulders of the lakhs of BJP workers that I stand on. Is politics so cruel that it asks a son whether he is taller than his mother?
Q: Pundits now say your move to Delhi is not far away and that’s why your party nominated L.K. Advani as its prime ministerial candidate on the eve of the elections.
A: I am a man of mission and not ambition. Secondly, none can be compared with Vajpayeeji and Advaniji. They are our tallest leaders. After Vajpayeeji it has to be Advaniji, naturally. In fact, the move to make him the prime ministerial candidate was aimed against the Congress in the wake of fears expressed by CPI(M) that the Government will go ahead with nuclear deal talks after the Gujarat poll results.
Q: Many senior BJP leaders left you and campaigned against you but you seem ready for reconciliation. You even sought Keshubhai Patel’s blessings after the swearingin ceremony.
A: My voice has always been conciliatory. The only difference is, people have come to know about it this time. Now that elections have come to an end, we must be cordial.
Q: After initially talking about development, you had to ultimately fall back on Hindutva.
A: Let me be clear: our campaign was based on the twin issues of development and security. Development and security are complementary. Without security there cannot be any development. My strong anti-terrorist stand is perfectly valid. And when Soniabehn called me a “merchant of death”, I had to defend myself. I had to throw the ball back into their court and remind them that they were the ones who removed POTA and blocked the hanging of Afzal Guru despite the Supreme Court judgement.
Modi: 'The Congress has turned India into a soft state against terrorism'
Q: If there is one message from this mandate, what would it be?
A: This is a rare mandate for a Government on the basis of its performance and not just promises. It is a positive vote for governance on a developmental agenda. We want this to be a launch pad for Gujarat’s progress and prosperity. This is also a message for the anti-Gujarat bandwagon, which has been soundly defeated for the second time since 2002.
Q: You seem to connect with people quite well.
A: Others who have observed me are better placed to answer this question. But one thing that people don’t like in a leader is hypocrisy. It is possible that they don’t think I am a hypocrite and so connect with me.
Q: You have had a very uneasy relationship with the media.
A: Unfortunately, Indian politics today has become very media-centric. In fact, politicians have found shortcuts to political growth through the media. Some of them survive only because of media management. I am not into this game.
Q: When you took over as chief minister six years ago, you had no experience of electoral politics and administration. Now you are recognised as a good administrator.
A: I have worked with the same system and the set of bureaucrats that have been in place for years. The message is that if you have the will, determination and vision, you can succeed in governance.
Q: Why are you so misunderstood?
A: Democracy gives you the power to criticise and debate. But I am the target of allegations and not honest, democratic criticism.
Q: What will be the impact of BJP’s victory in Gujarat on the UPA-led Union Government?
A: The Government in Delhi is literally working on daily wages. Our win in Gujarat will spur its disintegration. The non-Congress constituents of UPA will grow bolder in their demands, which it will be hard put to meet.
Q: You claim to have controlled terrorism in Gujarat to a large extent when it is increasing in other parts of the country. What do you think of the anti-terror measures taken by the Congress-led UPA Government?
A: The Congress has committed the sin of turning India into a soft state against terrorism for the sake of its vote-bank politics. It has refused to hang Afzal Guru, removed POTA, compromised with Naxalites in Andhra Pradesh and with ULFA in Assam for the sake of votes. The war against terror can’t be selective. The need of the hour is to bring all human forces on one platform against terrorism.
Posted by Fact at 8:41 AM