BJP will not do politics of breaking the society, says Rajnath Singh
The Union home minister says that since elections are approaching, some powers are trying to instil misunderstanding among the people to get political benefits. Rajnath Singh also spoke about bringing justice to the Kathua rape victim’s family.india Updated: Apr 16, 2018 07:34 IST
Home minister Rajnath Singh is the senior-most minister in the Narendra Modi government. A former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president and chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, he spoke to Azaan Javaidand Prashant Jhaon internal security, Kashmir, Nagaland, and the current political situation. Edited excerpts:
The government is completing four years. How do you assess the internal security situation?
The NDA (National Democratic Alliance) government under (Narendra) Modi-ji has performed extremely well. Our economy has strengthened. In the international community, India’s weight has increased. To transform India into a developed country, it is important that all sections of society develop. People should be confident about their future. For this, the Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Suraksha Yojana and Jeevan Jyoti Yojana were introduced. For the poor, for the women, who would previously cook food by burning wood, Ujjwala was introduced. We have provided electricity under Saubhagya. Ten crore people being given health cover of Rs 5 lakh is the world’s largest scheme. The government has made structural and procedural changes to bring transparency in the system. India has jumped up in the ease-of-doing-business rankings. Crores of people have received loans from Mudra bank and become employment providers. Start-up schemes for women and economically backward were started and, for the first time, giving loans to women and Dalits has been made mandatory. We have given a sense of confidence to the people, especially the deprived class.
The security situation has improved. On the Naxal front, everyone has acknowledged that it has shrunk to a specific region. There used to be 135 districts (affected by Maoists) and if you see now it affects only five-six districts. In Jharkhand, people can move fearlessly. The number of incidents has decreased, and there is desperation among Naxals. In the north-east, when it comes to insurgency, we have achieved more than 75% success. In the hinterland, there has been no terrorist strike. If you leave aside Pathankot and Gurdaspur, there hasn’t been a major incident in the country and in the two attacks that did take place, security forces and Punjab police did a good job.
How do you see the Kathua incident?
It is deeply sad, unfortunate and shameful. Irrespective of which community or religion people belong to, everyone will condemn this incident. There should be justice for the family of the victim.
The perception is that the BJP is defending the accused.
I have spoken to Mehbooba Mufti. I have also spoken to some other people from there and asked them to try to normalise the situation. Such matters should not be politicised. The victim’s family should get justice.
But will you condemn attempts to protect the accused?
No one, no one, can defend this. I have told the party members to see what the situation is like and I have asked them they should try to normalise the situation in Jammu.
The situation in Kashmir has deteriorated. There has been a spike in violence and local recruitment in militant groups.
I believe there is some local recruitment but the number is very insignificant. It’s nominal. Some forces have misled the youth of Kashmir. People who instigate children for stone pelting are to blame.
But has alienation among local Kashmiris increased?
I don’t believe in this. Among the majority in Kashmir, there is no sense of alienation towards India. People from the Muslim community are living in peace in India. It is rare and unparalleled. The Muslims themselves feel this. Where can one find a more tolerant country than India? The followers of all major religions live in India — nowhere else can you find this. There has been no discrimination in India on the basis of religion. This is the biggest feature of India’s culture.
Your ally Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has continued to emphasise the need for a political process.
We have appointed an interlocutor and I have previously said that we are ready to talk to every stakeholder who wants to talk. I have been repeating this.
Mehbooba Mufti says India should talk to Pakistan.
What can we do? Our Prime Minister broke all protocol and reached Pakistan. Wasn’t that an occasion for Pakistan to talk? I had gone to Pakistan. Wasn’t that an occasion for Pakistan to talk? There has been no gap in our efforts.
So the onus is on Pakistan?
Yes, Pakistan has to understand terrorism and dialogue cannot go together.
Some people suggest the surgical strikes actually led to a spike in tensions and cross-border violence.
Was the situation stable between the two countries before that (surgical strikes)? India has really tried. I believe Atal-ji’s government, Manmohan Singh-ji’s government or Modi-ji’s government — all have tried to keep good relations with neighbouring countries. Atal-ji went with a bus. Pakistan has never taken initiatives like the ones taken by India.
Dalit groups called a major Bharat Bandh recently. Do you see Dalit dissatisfaction with the government increasing?
Not at all. Since elections are approaching, some powers are trying to instil misunderstanding among the people to get political benefits. The Dalits understand if any government is their well-wisher, it is this one. We have launched the biggest schemes for deprived sections and the Dalit community.
Ram Vilas Paswan told us recently there is a perception among younger Dalits that the government is insensitive.
Some people are trying to create the perception, but I am confident that Dalit community has become very aware socially and politically. No one can mislead them.
Can this lead to a fracture in the social coalition of the BJP in the next elections?
We don’t want to do politics by breaking society but by bringing it together. This is the intrinsic value of our ideology.
But a section of society that appears torn from you is the Muslim community.
There are some people who are tying to create misunderstandings but Muslims who are here (India), they belong to India. India has not been accepted by Muslims by chance but by choice at the time of division (Partition).
We cannot think of them differently. We want to bring together everyone in the society and move forward. Whether or not we get political success, but we will not allow society to break.
Just in terms of political representation, Muslims don’t seem to find space.
We have given space at many places. There is a minister in UP government, a Union minister. There are many ministers in state governments.
Four southern finance ministers recently termed the Centre’s actions anti-federal.
Not all went —Tamil Nadu and Telangana didn’t go.
But four went. Do you think regionalism in the south is increasing?
Not at all. The people of the south will never accept this. They will never endorse such actions of any political party.
Many states accuse you of not listening and of meting out unfair treatment.
We listen abundantly. We can’t and don’t discriminate. Our aim is to strengthen India’s federal structure.
Will you be taking any initiatives to reach out to the South?
Our support in the south has increased. In the Kerala elections too, the percentage of our vote increase substantially.
But there appears to be a sense of alienation.
There is no sense of alienation in the south at all. Some people are trying to fan this to benefit politically. The people of the south will never accept this. In fact they will reject such powers.
Should the Lingayat community be given the status of a religious minority?
We won’t do politics of breaking the society. The Congress government rejected this proposal in 2013.
So will you reject it too?
The Congress rejected it in 2013 and we agree with this. Whenever Congress does anything good, we acknowledge it. (Laughs)
What’s happening with the Naga Framework agreement?
The talks are ongoing. It will mature.
Kiren Rijiju said that NSCN-IM gave up their demand for sovereignty and greater Nagaland. The group rejected it.
I just want to say that whatever the agreement was (between the Centre and NSCN-IM), it will mature. Our attempts are to make it mature — talks are ongoing.
Will a deal happen before 2019?
Yes, our effort is to conclude it as soon as possible. We don’t want to drag it.
The Opposition is trying to a forge a common front for 2019. Is this a challenge?
This means that all parties have acknowledged that they can’t defeat the BJP on their own. They have wholeheartedly accepted the BJP’s power.
Can they defeat it by coming together?
Whatever they are doing is their desperation. But they won’t be successful because people’s faith in this government has increased. We have been successful in one state poll after another.
An alliance worked in Gorakhpur and Phulpur.
We don’t want to be successful by breaking the society but by bringing it together. We have analysed if there were shortcomings (in Gorakhpur and Phulpur) and precautions will be taken.
You are not worried about the BSP-SP alliance?
Not at all. They are worried and are forging an unnatural alliance. So we are not getting worried because of their worries.
The alliance is not limited to UP. Sharad Pawar and Congress are talking in Maharashtra. This is happening in all states.
I would just like to say that politics should have principles. No political party should do opportunist politics.
On the other hand, your alliance partners are unhappy. The TDP has left; the Shiv Sena is angry.
In a home, a family, there can be some issues but no one is separated; everyone is together.
Some say that when you were the party president, you maintained relations. But today’s BJP is an authoritarian BJP and that’s why allies are unhappy.
No, our president is in touch with everyone. He has maintained live contact. Even though I am not the president, it is also my responsibility to maintain relations with everyone. The PM, despite being busy, has maintained close ties with the alliance partners.
In 2019, even if the BJP forms the government, will Narendra Modi become the Prime Minister?
Most definitely. There should be no doubt on this at all.