"Advani is BJP's No 2"
Dr Murli Manohar Joshi who is seeking to represent Allahabad for the fourth time spoke to HT just before filing his nomination papers on Wednesday. Some excerpts:
Soon after the twin mascots controversy in the BJP, Vajpayee was declared the undisputed leader. But has the party also sorted out the number two slot?
There is no room at the top and Vajpayee is our supreme leader. There has been no talk about who is number two. But as far as the BJP goes, after Vajpayee, Advani is the senior-most and then me. There is no controversy.
Do you think the BJP and the NDA would have a moral right to form the government if the figure falls short of 272?
First of all, I do not see such an eventuality arising. But if that happens, I believe that there should be no untouchability in politics. If people give a fractured mandate, they expect those who have been elected to form and run a stable government for five years. You cannot have elections every six months.
Is the BJP changing? From being a rightwing party, it is attempting to become a centrist party?
The BJP believes in its ideology but it has been giving a lot of importance to governance and stability. People want good governance, development and peace in South Asia. That is what we are striving for under Vajpayee's leadership.
Do you feel the BJP has been fair to minorities in Gujarat?
I do not consider Muslims to be a minority since they are part of India like anyone else. When you call them a minority, you imply that there is a majority. The BJP has never endorsed such a thesis. Secondly, what happened in Godhra and later are both to be condemned in equal terms. You cannot condemn one and not condemn the other.
The Supreme Court has taken a serious note of the Best Bakery case by ordering its re-trial outside Gujarat. What do you have to say?
The SC judgement has very wide implications even for the judiciary. The entire issue should be seen in totality instead of isolation. Modi did not appoint the Judges in the Gujarat HC.
What do you think of the Mulayam’s government?
The Samajwadi Party has nothing socialist about it. It has support of the rich and the affluent. Money bags from Mumbai and Kolkata and elsewhere want to tell us how to run this state. Many people who have had nothing to do with the poor are taking up their cause to render lip service. These leaders represent powerful sections of our society which are seeking to exploit the poor.