Modi as CM got BJP 121 seats; now that he is PM, we’ll get more: Gujarat CM
Gujarat plans CM Rupani speaks to HT about party’s plans for assembly elections in November and Ahmed Patel’s win in RS poll.Updated: Aug 23, 2017 08:26 IST
The BJP failed to defeat senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel in the high-octane Rajya Sabha poll in Gujarat, but the ruling party believes it has gained a lot by exposing chinks in the Congress’ armour. In an interview with DK Singh, Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani says Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be “the face” of the November assembly elections and the BJP will win 150 plus seats. Excerpts:
Q. What’s your takeaway from the recent Rajya Sabha polls, especially in the context of the November assembly elections?
A. We will get 150 plus seats (in the 182-member assembly). We have won all the elections that have taken place in the past one-and-a-half years. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, we won all 26 seats in Gujarat. In UP, we led on 310 Vidhan Sabha seats in 2014; we finally won 325. This means that
Modi magic, people’s faith in Modi, continues. In Gujarat, we led on 160 seats (in 2014); so I am saying 150. When Modiji was CM, we got 121 seats; now that he is PM, we will get more. There is a vertical split in the Congress. 14 MLAs quit (voted against) the Congress. Shankarsinh’s (Vaghela) exit is a big blow to the Congress. Amul Dairy chairman Ramsinh is a six-term MLA. Raghavji Patel, a big name in Saurashtra, is an influential Patidar leader. The BJP had a lot to gain in this election.
Q. Vaghela quit the Congress because of his chief ministerial ambitions. What can the BJP offer him?
A. He (Vaghela) will not join the BJP although other MLAs (who quit the Congress) will. Modiji will be our face because in elections, pictures of the national leadership are used. Won’t the Congress put up pictures of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul? We will also use Modiji’s photo. The BJP will gain from Modiji’s popularity. In UP, Yogiji was declared (CM) later. Votes came in Modiji’s name.
Q. Patidars might not be agitating today but it’s believed that they will rise up again in the run up to the elections. How do you plan to deal with it?
A. All these things have been sorted out. It’s not an issue in Gujarat. Everybody knows the Patidar samaj (community) was and is with the BJP.
Q. There have been several incidents of atrocities against Dalits in Gujarat in recent times. This is said to have made a big dent in your Dalit votebank….
A. This has been made an issue to malign Gujarat. What happened in Una? No government has taken as strict an action against Dalit atrocities as we did. Even now they (the accused) are inside (in jail). There were UP elections then.
Dalit votes in UP are large and so these things were happening. It was made an issue to tarnish the image of Modi, the BJP and Gujarat. In the gram panchayat elections, the BJP was elected in the village where the incident took place.
Q. Police officials such as DG Vanzara and MN Dinesh are getting acquitted in fake encounter cases. Why are these cases falling apart?
A. It was done by the Congress to implicate Modiji and Amitbhai (BJP chief Amit Shah). In case of Ishrat Jehan, for instance, even the terrorist organisation said that she was a member. Still this case! It was a conspiracy. Ab doodh ka doodh aur paani ka paani ho raha hai (Things are becoming more clear now). All this was done for political victimisation.
Q. There has been a shadow of post-Godhra riots on every election in Gujarat in the past 15 years. Do you see it receding now?
A. The Congress has to think about it. There has not been a single riot from 2001 till now. It’s not happening during our government. During the Congress regime, there were riots every six months. Our government talks about 6.5 crore Gujaratis. We work for everyone’s interest: appeasement for none, justice for all.
Q. Opposition parties have planned a mega rally in Gujarat on September 1. How is the BJP preparing to counter them?
A. After Rahul Gandhi became the leader (of the Congress), there have been 22 big elections; Congress lost them all. So why should you bother about Rahul? The more rallies Rahul holds, the more we will benefit.
First Published: Aug 23, 2017 08:24 IST