Prime Minister Narendra Modi described him as BJP’s ‘most successful’ president. And Amit Shah’s skills are at test, again, in Delhi’s election battle. Shah has set an ambitious target for BJP — cornering two-thirds majority.
The BJP president spoke to HT on Thursday, his first newspaper interview ahead of the elections in Delhi, about the credibility crisis that Arvind Kejriwal faces and reasons for picking Kiran Bedi as the CM candidate. Excerpts from the interview:
How is BJP placed in the Delhi election?
We are in total control of the situation. We are winning.
Does BJP’s high decibel campaign also reflect its concern?
We will get a comfortable majority. We are concerned about getting two-thirds majority. So, we have put in all our efforts. There are no rebel candidates on all 70 seats. Around 85% booth in-charges have been finalised and around 80% in-charge for every page of the voter list is ready. They hit the battleground from tomorrow.
If the BJP was so confident of its victory, why did it then bring an outsider as party CM-candidate?
It is not a first. We have examples in (former Uttarakhand CM) BC Khanduri, (union minister) Rajyavardhan Rathod and Jaswant Singh. BJP gives opportunity to many people. This has been the BJP’s tradition.
What was in your mind when BJP decided to pick Bedi as its face in Delhi?
As far as strategy of the party is concerned, it is obvious that she has a history against crime and corruption. It benefits the BJP. Women’s security is also a big issue in Delhi. Women will feel secure and assured with Kiran Bedi becoming the next CM.
Is the Modi wave a factor in Delhi?
Certainly. The last four assembly polls have reflected the people’s faith in our prime Minister. The Modi wave will surprise all those who feel it has fizzled out.
Then, why did you change your strategy of not projecting a candidate?
We had projected faces in the past. It is the BJP’s tradition not to have a fixed policy. It depends on the state’s political situation and strategy whether or not to contest under somebody.
Do you consider Delhi as the toughest elections after the Lok Sabha election?
You all would do an analysis on February 10 on how Delhi’s 2015 assembly election is the most successful election for the BJP.
But you are not benefitting from any anti-incumbency as in the other four states, where election took place recently?
Congress is on the verge of being finished. AAP has been completely exposed. They did not keep their promise of not entering politics, not taking Congress’ support to form government, lodging FIR against Sheila Dikshit in CWG scam, not taking government bungalow and vehicle, among many other things. There is a question mark on AAP’s credibility. You can not exactly call it anti-incumbency, but there is certainly a question mark on their credibility. You cannot remain in politics by hoodwinking people.
If Congress gets lesser seats than 2013 assembly elections, will it help you or the AAP?
It will certainly inflict losses on us. But we are heading towards getting more than 50 per cent of the votes. This will make every party irrelevant.
What is AAP’s strength that it continues to give a tough fight to the BJP?
AAP is not giving us a tough fight. No party gets 100% votes. There will be a runner up and it will be AAP in Delhi.
Why is a regional party replacing Congress in the number two slot?
It is not that any regional party has done a good job. It is the Congress’ performance, which is so bad that it has led to the party slipping. This is my neutral analysis. But I feel the Congress’ bad performance is starting to help regional parties.
Will a shift of minority votes towards AAP make any difference to the BJP in this election?
There are two ways to test a party’s strength in an election - share of votes it polled and the number of seats it won. We were ahead of the AAP in the 2013 assembly election. Consider the 2014 Lok Sabha election data. It was 100% in favour of the BJP. We won all the seven seats and got 46% votes. AAP was far behind us. This will happen again.
Is it an election after Lok Sabha where Amit Shah’s strength is more at test than Narendra Modi’s charisma?
It’s not about my strength. I was directly involved in the election of Maharashtra and Haryana. I started preparation for Jammu and Kashmir six months in advance. I was overseeing the Jharkhand polls. I am involved in every election. This is my job.