A day after several members of the Congress party’s younger generation were inducted into the Union council of ministers while Rahul Gandhi chose to focus on organisational work, BJP president Rajnath Singh deflected suggestions that his party had done little to give positions of responsibility to its youth leaders.
He said philosophically, “All the other politicians have children too. What is imperative is that we (politicians) should not allow ourselves to become unmindful of the struggles and sorrows of millions of other children in the country.”
In an interview to HT, he elaborated: “True, the country’s demography is taking an increasingly youthful turn, but it is erroneous to believe that the BJP does not have the support of the youth. Without the support of the young population, the BJP would not have emerged as the country’s largest political party.”
About the BJP pinning its hopes on LK Advani after several years of dependence on Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s charisma, Singh said: “Suggestions that Advaniji had been on the fringes for the last two years are entirely misplaced. He has always remained revered, respected and is hugely experienced. He is our best candidate for prime ministership.
“If Advaniji had been on the fringes, why would I have continued to seek his counsel all the time. There have been insinuations in gossip columns that my leadership has been mediocre and that I have been unable to emerge out of Advaniji’s shadow. People can say anything they like. All this does not disturb me one bit.”
While on the subject, Singh emphasised: “Now, tell me — if your parents or grandparents grow old — would you dump them? The BJP abides by a certain maryada. Atalji and Advaniji have been towering leaders who have contributed immensely. The BJP has been the country’s only political party not to have suffered a vertical split in the last 60 years — and the credit for this goes entirely to Atalji and Advaniji. They will continue to get the respect that is due to them.”
The party, he asserted, does have a second line of command: “M Venkaiah Naidu, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Vasundhara Raje, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Raman Singh and Bhuvan Chand Khanduri — to name a few”.
During Singh’s stewardship, the BJP has logged in impressive electoral victories in state assemblies but is modest about these achievements: “My stress has been on bringing about systemic changes to strengthen the party.”
Other highlights of his tenure have been the decision to provide 33 per cent reservation for women in party posts “despite objections from certain quarters”.
About Advani’s ‘revelations’ on the Kandahar episode he said: “Kandahar was a painful decision alright. But what about politicians who have exchanged hostages to get their daughters freed? What explains the UPA government’s reluctance in hanging Afzal Guru? Misguided elements of which community are being addressed by the Congress party?”
Singh said that if the BJP comes to power it would bring in a law more stringent than POTA, disband the policy of communal budgeting, re-negotiate the India-US nuclear deal and take immediate steps to have anti-conversion laws passed by state assemblies.