HT interview: BJP will emerge stronger in East, West and South, says Shivraj Singh | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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HT interview: BJP will emerge stronger in East, West and South, says Shivraj Singh

May 23, 2024 08:28 PM IST

‘400 paar is not a mere slogan’. We are set to emerge as the biggest party in the South. We would emerge stronger in East, West and South. Be it Bengal, Odisha, Andhra or Telangana

Ranchi: Former Madhya Pradesh chief minister and national vice president of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) Shivraj Singh Chauhan, who was in Jharkhand for campaigning, spoke to HT’s Vishal Kant over a host of issues, including those on the 2024 election result, his role after having served as longest serving CM, Opposition’s ‘washing machine’ jibe and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s remark of Amit Shah likely to be next prime minister. 

Former MP chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan (File Photo)
Former MP chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan (File Photo)

Q. After your own election, you are now campaigning for the BJP in other states. Which side do you think the election is headed? 

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People are also saying what the party is saying – ‘Abki Baar 400 Paar’ for the NDA [National Democratic Alliance]. This is going to be a reality. In Madhya Pradesh, we will win all 29 seats. I toured across three seats in Jharkhand and I can say that the result would be one-sided. ‘400 paar is not a mere slogan’. We are set to emerge as the biggest party in the South. We would emerge stronger in East, West and South. Be it Bengal, Odisha, Andhra or Telangana. 

Q. Has this slogan backfired? The opposition is saying you want 400 to change the Constitution and end reservation. Is the BJP on the back foot? 

There is no way we are on the back foot. People of this country know that it is the Congress that has subverted the Constitution. Indira Ji [former Prime Minister of India] imposed an emergency in 1975. All rights of citizens were suspended. I was sent to jail when I was 17. Today, the Constitution is in safe hands, The country trusts [Prime Minister] Narendra Modi Ji. The opposition is not finding any political ground. They are not being able to give any fight, so they are trying to create confusion among the masses. But people know the truth. 

Q. Labharthi scheme has been a major success for the BJP. Recently, we saw that MP, Ladli Behna Yojna was given credit for winning the Assembly polls. But how long can such schemes be run? 

We live in a welfare state. People’s welfare is our duty. The PM said there are only four castes – women, farmers, youth and poor. It is our duty to do welfare for these four groups and provide all services to them. We all know that in previous regimes money never reached the beneficiary. Now it’s going straight to their bank accounts, which is making an impact in their life. PM Modi pulled 25 crore (250 million) people above the poverty line. 

Q. But what about economic viability? This has set a sense of competition among parties as to who can offer more to people in terms of direct material benefits. Congress has promised Rs.8,500 per month to all poor women and doubling the ration quota. 

Our opinion is that all countrymen have equal rights over the country’s resources. The BJP’s guiding light has been Deendayal Upadhya’s concept of Antyodaya. The welfare and development of all is our duty. Therefore, several schemes are implemented to improve their life. Giving home and ration to the poor is not a freebie. 

The Congress-led alliance is making false promises. In the 2018 election, they promised to give unemployment allowance, but it was never done. They promised a loan waiver, but that also didn’t happen. Now they are talking about giving Rs.1 lakh, which will also not happen.

In MP, we had a budget of Rs.3.2 lakh crore when I was the CM. It would increase to Rs.3.5 lakh crore from this year. Out of that, we’ve earmarked Rs.16,000 crore for Ladli Behena Yojna. I did not do that at the cost of capital expenditure, which is spent on road, infra and other development works. In fact, we also increased the capital expenditure. Congress’s promise of giving Rs.1 lakh in each person’s account is a joke. They would never be able to do this. They are only saying this for the vote. 

Q. There is a sizeable population of tribals in Jharkhand and MP. The Opposition is saying in their rallies that BJP would end their reservation. Is that a concern? 

They are creating confusion and I have confidence that the tribal community won’t get into their trap. 

Q. After being the CM for such a long period, now you are contesting the parliamentary election? In what role could we see Shivraj Chauhan in future? There are talks of you becoming the next party president as well. 

As a BJP worker, we work for a bigger goal. If I could summarise that in one phrase, it would be ‘nation rebuilding’. When we work with such goals, personal role is not important. It’s the party which would decide. The party directed me to be CM, I held that post. Now I have been directed to contest Lok Sabha and I am following it. Tomorrow if they tell me to work only as an MP, I will do that. 

Q. You are one of the senior leaders of the party. What is your take on Kejriwal’s statement that Union home Amit Shah would become the next PM and CM Yogi Adityanath would be removed in UP? 

Kejriwal is Natwarlal. Very cunningly, he raises a particular issue just to create confusion. If you look at my career, I became the chief minister four times, MP five times and MLA six times. I am also the party’s vice-president. In the past, I have been the national general secretary and national president of the BJP’s youth wing. Earlier, I was also the general secretary and president of the MP state unit. After being the CM for so long, should only I be getting a chance to hold that post? Now someone else has been given that opportunity. What is wrong with that? 

Q. That logic is a stamp on the assertion that change could be a possibility. 

No, I didn’t say that. Kejriwal is saying that only to spread confusion. He has no credibility left. Koi aisa saga nahin Kejriwal ne jisko thaga nahin (Kejriwal has cheated all). Prashant Bhushan, Kumar Vishwas, Yogendra Yadav, and Sazia Ilmi, have all been cheated by him. The list is long. 

Now, if you look at the Swati Maliwal case, Kejriwal never did any andloan (protest) for her, for his deputy Manish Sisodia or his party leader Satyendra Jain, but he is doing one for his PA (personal assistant Bibhav Kumar). Why is he saving him? He is a very shrewd man. It has been his character to create confusion. 

Q. One major issue is the narrative around corruption. A major critique of the BJP is that central agencies slow down their probe against any leader who joins the BJP. Is this not a double standard? 

No agency gets lenient if any individual joins the BJP. The probe continues. If someone believes in the party’s ideology and wants to serve people using the BJP’s platform, they are welcome. 

Q. Recently Ajit Pawar got relief after he joined the NDA fold. 

If nothing was found during the probe, then people will get a clean chit. 

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