Two-time Uttarakhand chief minister Major Gen (Rtd) BC Khanduri is confident that the BJP will emerge victorious in the hill state despite not projecting a CM face. In an interview with HT’s Kumar Uttam, Khanduri said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘impressive’ performance at the Centre will persuade the electorate to vote for the right-wing party in the upcoming state polls. Excerpts:
How strong an opponent is Harish Rawat for the BJP?
A: Harish Rawat has always put his interest ahead of others – even of the Congress’. He state even one decision that he took in state’s interest. He has lived for himself and, as the chief minister, brought disrepute to the state. His tenure was marred by scandals. He will pay this time.
How do you see Rawat’s decision to grant a 90-minute break to Muslim employees on Friday? Will it help Congress consolidate minority votes in Uttarakhand?
A: India is not Saudi Arabia. Muslims can see through his poll gimmick. Such overtures are also not taken well by the majority. Even Congress realised its mistake and overturned the decision within 24 hours. It only benefited the BJP.
Isn’t the BJP bogged down by internal strife?
A: Our issues, if any, do not affect the state. We, as a family, can deal with it. But Rawat’s conduct as chief minister impact the state and its people. You can dissect his performance and even ours. People know who stands where.
How will the absence of a CM face affect BJP’s prospect?
A: It is a matter of strategy, decided by the party’s central leadership. The election result will tell if it worked or not. I am confident that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s performance will overshadow all other issues. People are impressed with his inning at the centre. Surgical strike against Pakistan and demonetisation has turned the tide in our favour.