Exuding confidence that the NDA will cross the half-way mark on its own in the Lok Sabha, the BJP’s chief strategist and leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley told HT in Amritsar on Friday that this election has turned into a referendum on the party’s PM candidate Narendra Modi. Excerpts from an interview with Jaitley, the BJP candidate from Amritsar:
What’s your take on the national poll scene?
We’re trying to finalise an alliance with the TDP in Andhra Pradesh. And, I hope that happens today (Friday). Factoring that in, I think the NDA will cross the half-way mark in the Lok Sabha on its own. Plus, there will be a lot of non-Congress groups in the states which can cooperate and coordinate with us later.
How do look at the Congress making a pitch for consolidation of secular votes?
The high point of this election is that it’s being fought only on the issue of governance. The UPA government is facing not just anti-incumbency but a huge revulsion. Attempts to bring in communal and caste agendas will not work. When things go wrong, they go horribly wrong. That’s the story of the Congress.
The Amritsar campaign is becoming increasingly bitter and personalised?
That’s because even if one candidate has the propensity to use avoidable language, it will look like the race is becoming personalised. Feudalism has not gone out of the mindset of the Maharaja (Congress candidate Amarinder Singh). He is always angry, talks down to people and thinks abuse is part of free speech. I don’t think I have to reciprocate that language.
Do you expect to have a healthy and civilised debate with Capt Amarinder?
Not in the least. He is obsessed about himself. He is impulsive. That’s the impression I get from the media. And he thinks he has the right to insult people. He doesn’t respect his opponents. So how do you have a civilised debate?
Why is winning this election important for you?
For two reasons. One, it appears that we’re on the verge of forming a government and therefore winning every seat is important. Second, as an elected representative from Amritsar, I being part of the senior BJP leadership can use my influence with the central government to deliver for the constituency.
What would work to your advantage in Amritsar?
Three factors. One, my party and alliance partner have a strong base. Two, I have survived for a very long time in politics and survived well. And my biggest asset is credibility. People expect that if elected, I will be a better voice for Amritsar. Also, there is a groundswell of a larger national desire to have a non-Congress NDA government with Modi as Prime Minister.