‘Nationalism, development issues supplement each other,’ Bhupender Yadav, BJP general secretary incharge of Maharashtra
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) general secretary incharge for the Maharashtra assembly polls, Bhupender Yadav, spoke to Smriti Kak Ramachandran about the seat-sharing talks with the Shiv Sena, the party’s focus on national issues versus regional concerns, and the impact of Maratha reservation. Edited excerpts:
Shiv Sena is among the oldest allies of the BJP but seat-sharing talks between the two always seem to be acrimonious, and then there are several other points of disagreement. Are the two parties coming together only for political gains?
During discussions over seat-sharing between the BJP and the Shiv Sena, there was no statement from the leadership on either side that shows there was any disagreement or stress. The talks were conducted in an amicable environment, and the benchmark for both sides was to ensure a win and that a strong government comes to power. Both the BJP and the Shiv Sena have ensured that all partners in this alliance, such as the RPI [Republican Party of India], RSP [Revolutionary Socialist Party], etc, get their share of seats. We are confident that we will win 3/4th of total seats.
What will be the poll planks? There is a lot of talk about the party going to polls citing the nullification of Article 370, but the Opposition is bringing up issues like floods in the western parts and the drought in Marathwada.
After Vasantrao Naik, Devendra Fadnavis is the only chief minister who completed a five-year term. Farmers have been rid of problems brought on by drought. Works have been undertaken for employment, irrigation and overall development.
The election is being fought on the poll plank of continuing these works.
At the same time, the way national issues have been dealt with under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Centre will have an impact on the electors. Issues such as the abrogation of Article 370 have given people a reason to believe that the government at the Centre is one that is capable of fulfilling the aspirations of people.
The Opposition says you are politicising these issues, whether it was Balakot during the Lok Sabha elections or Article 370 now. There are, at the same time, issues of corruption in the state — Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi has alleged there is a nexus between the BJP and people involved in the PMC bank case.
Whatever charges are raised by the Opposition are completely baseless. We have seen in the Lok Sabha election also, the mandate of the people rejected them and the issues they raised. Nationalism and development issues supplement each other. You cannot say that you leave one and focus on the other. ‘Nation first’ is the core ideology of the BJP. We are fulfilling the dreams of the people in a democratic way and with larger political consensus.
Votes from the SC/ST communities are expected to play a crucial role in at least 17 out of the 48 constituencies in Maharashtra. Marathas form about 30% of the state’s population and the reservation for them seems to have upset the so-called upper castes. How will you juggle the caste arithmetic?
After Lok Sabha polls, when the PM addressed the first meeting of the National Democratic Alliance MPs, he gave a word, NARA . It means national ambition, regional aspiration. When we say we create a balance between national ambitions and regional aspirations it means the inclusion of all social, economical, working and religious groups in the development process. The main priority of BJP’s governance model is the distribution of resources in a free and transparent manner. The BJP does not follow any vote bank politics—neither the politics of discrimination nor appeasement.
What are the reasons for dropping senior leaders such as Vinod Tawde and Eknath Khadse?
The ticket distribution work is done on the basis of the state unit’s recommendation and a full-fledged discussion. Every individual has a role in the organisation; it is a matter of consensus. The party has taken the decision in a democratic manner after detailed deliberation and discussion. Whatever role has been assigned to a leader will be followed by them.
We are hearing international voices express concern over the communication lockdown in Kashmir. Do you think the narrative that the government has set is being challenged?
The government has successfully handled the Kashmir issue. We are committed to providing good governance there. The government is working in the right direction; we are open and fair and that will show in our actions.