?Fear of hung House will help NDA get majority?
Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee has dismissed talk of a hung Parliament, saying the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is headed for a "decisive mandate". Talking to Tarun Basu & M.R. Narayan Swamy of the Indo-Asian News Service, Vajpayee said that that no one "trusts the Congress to run a coalition".
In the light of the latest polls, how optimistic are you about forming a government?
I do not wish to comment on the exit polls. However, I can say one thing with full confidence about the actual polls: the people will give a renewed mandate to the NDA. And it will be a decisive mandate.
In case of a hung Parliament would the BJP be able to count on the support of people like Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mayawati or Sharad Pawar?
The question of a hung Parliament will not arise at all. The people are well aware of the cost the country will have to pay on account of political instability. Indeed the very talk of a hung Parliament, the growing disarray in the opposition ranks, and the conflicting aspirations of various opposition leaders for the office of prime minister have further alerted the electorate to the danger of instability. This new development will serve as yet another contributing factor towards a decisive majority for the NDA.
The BJP — and you personally — seem to be making an attempt to attract the Muslim vote. At the same time, a BJP MP seeking re-election says openly that he will accept Muslim votes, but only if they are washed in Ganga jal. What kind of mixed signals is the party sending to Muslims?
I strongly disapprove of the statement attributed to a BJP MP that you have referred to. If he has said it, it is wrong.
Why is it that the Indian voters are no more giving any single party a majority in Lok Sabha elections?
The answer lies in the steep decline and continued shrinking of the Congress, which once enjoyed supremacy both at the Centre and in most states. This process has led to the growth of several regional parties on the one hand and on the other, the BJP's emergence as the single largest party at the Centre. In this era of coalitions, the polarisation is between the BJP and the Congress. However, there is one crucial difference between the two poles. Nobody trusts the Congress party to run a coalition, whereas we have already demonstrated both our faith and ability in this regard.
Do you ever see any party, including the BJP, coming to power in New Delhi on its own strength?
At the moment, we are only focused on the current elections and our goal is to get a decisive mandate for the NDA.
What have been your most memorable moments of your political career? Did you ever feel that you should not have been in politics and just be a poet or a journalist?
No, I have never felt that I should not have been in politics. I made a conscious decision to work in the political field when the Bharatiya Jana Sangh was formed in 1951. There are many moments in this long journey that I would call memorable. Here I would like to mention one such moment — the defeat of the Emergency rule and the victory of democracy in 1977. It was an exhilarating moment, an event that greatly reinforced my faith in democracy and in the innate wisdom of the Indian people.
What do you like doing most when you are not engaged in politics? What is the book you are reading now?
I like to read and write. However, reading a book during an election campaign is a luxury I don't have.