BJP president Nitin Gadkari says the party would prefer to sit in the opposition rather than ally with the SP and BSP to form the government in UP. And though the construction of the Ram temple will remain a cultural issue, it is not on the political agenda now.
What prospects do you see for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh?
We are confident of getting a clear mandate. The Muslim reservation card, being played by the Congress and SP for votes, is making us popular among the OBCs. But the BJP will never align with the SP or BSP to form government and will sit in the opposition if it fails to get the numbers.
The BJP, which has been making a hue and cry over corruption, chose to induct scam-tainted Babu Singh Kushwaha. What were the compulsions?
The Kushwaha chapter is now closed for the BJP after his party membership was suspended.
It is often said, especially after the Kushwaha episode, you are running the party like a businessman who is more concerned about profit and loss rather than ethics?
(Gets a little worked up). This is a baseless allegation. In politics, I am not a businessman (professionally he is). Rather, I am a social entrepreneur who thinks and tries to change the fate of the poor though development.
The BJP’s Vision Document for UP does not talk of the Ram temple. Has the party lost the vision for the construction of a grand temple in Ayodhya?
The construction of the temple is not a political issue. We see it as a cultural issue and will remain important for the party as such.
So the issue will not figure in the party’s manifesto either?
Ram hamare hridaya mei hai (Lord Ram lives in our heart). Let him be there. Why do you want him to be included in or excluded from the manifesto (laughs).
Do state party leaders have reservations on Varun Gandhi being the front campaigner?
State leaders have no problem with Varun Gandhi. Everyone will campaign. Do you think I’m not young? I have become even younger after I have shed a few kilos.