HT Interview | PM Modi has zero tolerance for radicalisation: Shah

Updated on Nov 30, 2022 07:28 AM IST

In September, the Centre outlawed PFI and its affiliates for five years under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, accusing them of involvement in Islamic radicalisation and terrorist activities, a move that came after a crackdown on the group’s leaders and office bearers across several states

 (Amit Shah Twitter)
(Amit Shah Twitter)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a zero-tolerance policy towards radicalisation and terrorism, Union home minister Amit Shah said on Tuesday, underlining that the central government’s decision to ban Popular Front of India (PFI) earlier this year was based on a long list of “anti-national” activities that included pushing young people towards terrorism.

In an interview, the senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader expressed confidence that his party will win a seventh consecutive assembly election in Gujarat due to its governance and development model that blunted anti-incumbency in the western state. He also praised Modi for raising India’s status on the global stage and said that the fight in Gujarat was between the BJP and the Congress only.

“The Modi government’s decision to ban PFI was based on a long list of anti national activities by the organisation. Their efforts to radicalise the youth and push them towards terror activities clearly show their intent and their designs and our attention was drawn to this. We also have evidence and a number of states had pushed for banning the organisation,” Shah said.

“This government will not show tolerance for any organisation undertaking similar activities. The PM has a zero-tolerance policy towards radicalisation and terrorism,” he added.

In September, the Centre outlawed PFI and its affiliates for five years under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, accusing them of involvement in Islamic radicalisation and terrorist activities, a move that came after a crackdown on the group’s leaders and office bearers across several states

Shah said that the BJP government in Gujarat recognised the requirements and aspirations of the people, and met them. This is why the party was confident of securing a decisive mandate, he added. “The BJP will break all its previous records of seat share and vote share this time and win with the best margin,” Shah said.

“Our development model is sarvasparshi (touching all) and sarvasamaveshi (all inclusive) that spans all the areas. Whether it was in the area of education, irrigation, infrastructure, urban and rural development, or welfare of the scheduled tribes, other backward classes and scheduled castes, we improved things everywhere,” he added.

Gujarat goes to the polls in two phases on December 1 and 5. The results will be announced on December 8. For the first time since 1990, the state — considered a BJP stronghold, and also the home of Modi and Shah — is witnessing a triangular contest between the BJP, Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

But Shah said that the BJP’s primary adversary was the Congress. “The opposition here is the Congress party. Not just in Gujarat but across the country it is going through an unstable phase and trying to establish its existence and the outcome of this can be seen in Gujarat as well,” he said.

He dismissed the AAP, which ran an energetic campaign and hoped to make a dent in the BJP and Congress votes, especially in Patidar-dominated seats in the Surat region. “The AAP has no resonance on the ground; and the people of Gujarat have no interest in the party. It is quite possible that their candidates will find no mention in the list of winners,” Shah said.

To blunt anti-incumbency, the BJP changed the chief minister and virtually the entire council of ministers in the state last year, dropping a number of sitting legislators, even as some senior leaders opted out of the electoral race. But Shah said that it should not be read as a pattern. “Each state has its own political situation. It also depends on the leaders themselves wishing to step away, the party’s role in this is minimal. There is no connection between picking candidates and a generational shift, it is a natural process. There is a generational change in the BJP’s party structure as well as in the government. This should not be read as a pattern,” he added.

Shah said that the anti-radicalisation cells promised in the BJP manifesto was a good beginning. “There should be a check on radicalisation not only in Gujarat but across the country. While it is a good thing that the BJP in Gujarat has raised the issue, I feel there should be similar provisions across the country. To control radicalisation should be everyone’s aim. As for the pan India replication, first the contours will be drawn, a model will be readied and then the rest of the details will be completed,” he added.

He rejected conjecture that the National Democratic Alliance was shrinking and said the Union government comprised several ministers from parties that were allies of the BJP. He also dismissed efforts to cobble together an Opposition coalition against the BJP, saying they could never match the stature of Modi.

“The way in which PM Modi has helped India scale heights internationally and taken our economy to greater heights in a short span of time has made our country an attractive destination for manufacturing. Also, there is a certain heft that the Indian PM’s opinion and our country’s view on international issues has acquired. I don’t think any coalition would have made a difference to all this,” he said. “These coalitions exist only on paper and are formed for the sake of headlines,” he added.

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    Smriti covers an intersection of politics and governance. Having spent over a decade in journalism, she combines old fashioned leg work with modern story telling tools.

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