A day after the BJP secured a massive mandate in Uttar Pradesh, Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu said the opposition’s negative campaign against demonetisation pushed the people towards his party. In an interview to Hindustan Times, the minister said poll results would help the Centre bring in new reforms.
What would you attribute your spectacular performance in Uttar Pradesh to—anti-incumbency against the SP government or ‘Modi wave’?
People have seen Modi taking action against black money and tax evasion. There is hunger for development among people. Earlier, during Indira Gandhi’s days, she raised the slogan garibi hatao but people were not aware what development meant. With the advent of television entering every house, people know how development is taking place, what’s happening in different states.
People are realizing Modi is doing something, so let us strengthen him. That’s the mood of the people. Crossing 300 (seats in UP) was beyond our expectations. That means the people desired to bring UP out of the mess. They wanted to have a taste of development that they saw everywhere… that’s the mandate.
Why did it not work in Punjab or Goa?
There was a certain amount of anti-incumbency in Punjab. In Goa, MGP and BJP fought elections together earlier. This time we fought separately. The BJP has got 31.6 % on its own and MGP 11.6 %. Combine both, where is Congress? It got just 26.3 % but still got more seats.
Also, there was an issue of language – Konkani, the mother tongue, or English. We have taken a principle stand that choice is left to the people, we can’t discriminate. It has also cost us to some extent but we have no regrets. Then there was the leadership issue also. Our leadership did not inspire people. That is why even our CM lost the election. We were casually talking about Manohar (Parrikar) but did not send him there.
What about the Hindu consolidation factor in UP?
I don’t agree with it all. You people try to simplify things and are guided by pseudo-secular mindset. When we win, it is because of Hindu consolidation and when they win, it is because of secularism or progress or development.
If you go through all the regions, certain amount of minorities also voted for the BJP, particularly women folk. Some of the BJP critics wrote articles that we are winning before polling just to frighten the voters and send a message that (they should) come together, otherwise the BJP will win.
How will these results impact governance at the Centre, more push for economic reform?
It means reform, perform, transform. This is the PM’s mantra. He is very keen and pursuing it also. The negative attitude of opposition and lack of a majority in the Rajya Sabha, it used to delay us. Now things will improve.
There will be some change in the minds of some opposition parties, which has started a negative campaign. They will now realize it has not paid any dividends. One feedback that we got was that the negative campaign by the opposition on demonetisation brought poor people nearer to us.
You did very well in the recent Odisha panchayat polls. As the BJP expands its footprint, many regional parties, including friendly ones such as the BJD, will feel the pinch.
The BJP strategy is very clear.. We want to become a real pan-India national party. We were a nationalist party earlier also but at the same time we were not able to cross some barriers. Thanks to the leadership of Narendrabhai Modi, we are crossing them. We are expanding. This is not to give a threat to any regional parties. Every party wishes to expand its base. We want either the BJP to come to power, or a friendly party. We want to expand our base across the country and we are in the process of becoming a common man’s party.
Are you happy to see the Congress, and not AAP, coming to power in Punjab?
We do not have a choice. It’s the people’s choice. AAP is over-ambitious. He (Arvind Kejriwal) went to Varanasi to contest against Narendra Modi. He overstated things. He went to Goa, look at what has happened. He went to Punjab, look at what has happened. Even in the Lok Sabha, Punjab people gave four Lok Sabha seats to AAP. The people deserted the party because he proved that he cannot work as a team. If you go by the performance of AAP, their conduct is no better than the Congress. This impression is gaining ground.