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‘Judiciary and media have been vibrant on riots, you don’t need certificate from me’

Why the election campaign has been so bitter and confrontational

I have spoken about inflation, unemployment, farmers’ problems, security, etc. I seek answers from the Indian government. At least the media should question the ruling party. (But) even the media is asking Modi questions only about Gujarat. This is not the first election where divisive issues have been raised in a campaign. But it is unfortunate that today, from a 60-minute speech, a matter that was raised for 30 seconds is played up for 24 hours.

Why Varanasi became an issue

I found out what had happened when I was travelling yesterday. I was stunned that they were talking about the security of the ground till morning. They were talking about a security threat. Seven days ago, the home minister of the country stated that Modi faced no security threat, that there was nothing to worry about. At a press conference, (P.) Chidambaram said that the security arrangements were done so well that Modi had addressed 400 rallies without a hitch, which is why talking of security arrangements would be inappropriate. Two senior ministers of the Indian government said this. And, suddenly, they say otherwise yesterday. Then, one feels that there is something amiss.

Why the anger against the Election Commission

I have not uttered a single word until now. Where does the question of anger arise? The party has written letters to them, giving them a detailed explanation. I cannot say much about this because the developments are taking shape in Varanasi. It is better that you take a minute-to-minute account from Arun Jaitley, who is in Varanasi. We feel that constitutional institutions must be respected. The Election Commission should be given the utmost respect. That is why, we should not think of adopting unconstitutional means against the Election Commission. But, when that recourse is denied to us, we have the right in a democracy to register our protest. It is up to the Election Commission to answer why we are being troubled. Specifically, why a single party is being troubled, why Modi is being troubled?

Why give Priyanka Gandhi’s description of his comments on Rajiv Gandhi as “low-level politics” a caste spin?

I am shocked at how Times Now is so insistent on protecting a particular family. Is it not Times Now’s responsibility to show what I have said about Rajiv Gandhi to the world? Even if one word is spiteful or bitter, I am willing to apologise to all. I have given factual informationů. Don’t I have the right to at least state the truth? Is it because I come from a humble background, from a humble family? Has this country become like that? Has my democracy submitted itself to one family? And when a poor man says something there is uproar.

In Gujarati, the meaning approximates to the response I have given. When there was talk of “neech” deeds and “neech” castes, isn’t the CWG scam an example of “neech” politics? ...I am responding also to the definition of “neech” acts and “neech” politics given by others. Take caste out of it, by all means. I have no objections to that.

Why there is a religious overtone to the campaign, such as when Amit Shah said “Mullah Mulayam”.

If I didn’t protest... if I didn’t oppose it through the internal mechanism, don’t you think it would have continued. Hasn’t it stopped? Did it stop or not? That means I have taken action and you can understand. But does it mean that I convey it to the media and make my actions clearer?

Why did Modi himself bring it in by saying that those who celebrate Durga Ashtami and those who speak Bengali are Mother India’s children?

In Bangladesh, just because of religion, Hindus are thrashed and forced out. The Hindu population was 35 per cent at the time of separation and is now only 7 per cent. Such people have nowhere to go and they want to return to India as they hail from our nation.

Now, if you felt bad about Durga, then forgive me but those who hail from India and want to return, should this country leave them for the dead? Only because of our political decisions, these people will have to die. Secondly, if such people have come to Assam and Bengal, then should the concern be limited to Assam or Bengal only? Gujarat should also take care of them, even Rajasthan and the entire country should take care of them collectively.

Infiltrators come with a political agenda and no political party in India before this has ever spoken in favour of infiltrators. Some parties openly objected to it and some kept quiet. This is the first time it has been noticed that infiltrators are openly invited to India.

I ask one question to these parties who are openly inviting infiltrators who are coming here. Why is their attitude different towards Taslima Nasreen? Taslima wouldn’t be allowed to stay in Bengal. Why did they (an allusion to the Trinamul Congress) start an agitation then? Why are there two sections to this? And because of that I clearly say that and it is not related to Hindu or Muslim. This is all due to vote-bank politics and someone should oppose it or not?

Why the BJP manifesto said India should remain a natural home to persecuted Hindus. Why not persecuted Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Muslims or Christians also?

I am ready to accept whatever you are saying.

...but it’s not in the manifesto

What we believe is all of them are our people only. All who are born and brought up here. As per the SC’s judgement, Hinduism is not a religion but a way of life. You went into the religion and we work according to the judgement of the SC. In that, no Buddhist is opposed, nor a Sikh is opposed. In fact in Kerala, even today we have Christian followers, who live their life like Hindus. So, we don’t discriminate but you all do.

Is the BJP still seen as a religion-based party?

Firstly, we have mainly concentrated on governance and development. We have striven to plan how a 21st century India should look like and this election works towards achieving that goal.

Were any members of the Sangh, VHP, or the BJP involved in the 2002 riots?

I feel that on the subject of the Gujarat riots, the judiciary has been vibrant and has exhibited its activism. The media too has been vibrant on the subject and the NGOs and international agencies have been overactive. After all this scrutiny, I feel, let them draw their own conclusions. They don’t need a certificate from Modi. They shouldn’t even bank on a certificate from Modi. They shouldn’t have the slightest shred of belief in a certificate from Modi. Only constitutional authorities should be trusted.

Did his government fulfil its moral responsibility to ensure peace in 2002?

Yes, yes. There is no need to cite me further... See, take 10 riots of your choice from the history of India. Select any 10 from across the country. You can include 2002 as well. You can present the data of how many FIRs were registered, how many people were arrested, how many cases were lodged, how many were punished in these riots in front of the whole country.

Was he sure they would cross 272 and would need no other party’s support to form the government?

There is an arithmetic needed to form the government. But there is no arithmetic needed to run the country. A spirit is needed to run the country. The spirit is all-inclusive. Therefore, hypothetically, even if I and my party get 300 seats, then it is my duty in a democracy to respect all parties, even my political rivals have a purpose, even those who severely criticise me have a purpose. That is how a democracy functions. The country will give me the numbers needed to run the government. To run the country, I need everyone’s co-operation. I will do all I can to get everyone’s co-operation, even if it’s the Congress....We will know the numbers on the 16th. Even if we get 350 seats, every single MP from a single party is as valuable to me as 125 crore citizens.

Could he do business with parties he has criticised and who have criticised him

Politics isn’t conducted on the basis of what is said in the course of election campaigns... The day Modi was declared the prime ministerial nominee, the mainstream media across the country had only one centre story — that the BJP would find no allies.... For the first time in India’s political history, the BJP has 25 parties in a pre-poll alliance....

Was he willing to reach out to Mayawati or Mamata or Jayalalithaa, if required, to form the government?

The people of the country are giving all their support to the BJP to form government. But when the people give their support, there is little room for arrogance.... Running a country may be a number game, but it also means taking everyone together. I don’t believe that it is just the BJP that wants to work for the country, and not other parties. They may have differing ideologies, but everyone wants to work for the country.

On April 9, he said that Mamata was doing development work. Later, he became extremely critical of her. Why the change?

When Didi came to power, what I thought was that she can contribute in a large manner. I had positive hopes from her. When I went there, I hadn’t done full research. Whenever I met Didi, she was very cordial and I really thought she will do something for Bengal. So I praised her.... But then I started receiving numerous mails and information, I was stunned and felt that I should have said things after a thorough research. I believe if you want to bring about development in eastern India, then Calcutta should be developed into a powerful and vibrant city. Rapid progress needs to be made economically which will result in the development of the adjoining areas. If we are not able to provide good administration to Bengal then other areas in the eastern part of India will also get affected. There are four to five centres like Patna, Ranchi, Calcutta, Guwahati and Bhubaneswar. All these centres need to be developed very quickly for the progress of our nation. And in the middle of this, if Didi wastes her time in the politics of revenge with the Left, it doesn’t impress me. My Bengal is getting destroyed and I am hurt because of this.

In three weeks his opinion changed?

It’s not 3 weeks. I had gone in April that time

...April 9 to May 4

I went now only right. On May 4, I went there and made the reference about “two laddoos”

Shouldn’t he have kept the door open with Mamata and Mayawati?

This can also be a strategy to keep the door open.

Could he elaborate?

I won’t explain it now but will do it after May 12.

So he would change his line after the elections?

This time, the people of this country will give the strongest government since the demise of Rajiv Gandhi.

What about Jayalalithaa?

I will tell you, don’t waste your time in finding allies. You have already asked me six questions related to this. I have explained everything clearly that BJP is winning with a clear majority and we will be forming the strongest and most stable government since Rajiv Gandhi’s government. Second question is of running the government, I have already said this that any MP belonging to any political party and from any part of the country, even if it’s an independent MP, for me he is the representative of 125 crore Indians. For me he is a respected parliamentarian and my behaviour with him will be as good as possible. I have said this 50 times now. If you don’t understand tell someone to translate it for you.

So there’s a possibility of working with all of them in some way or the other?

This is not an issue for your personal benefit. If there is my personal benefit, I will go with you and if it is not, I won’t. The best way to run a country is to take everyone together. During elections, I may have differences with Times Now, but to run this country, I will have to involve Times Now also. This is my responsibility. Please come out of politics now, it’s enough.

It’s natural to ask about politics at election time

Let us handle the politics.

On Snoopgate, could he identify the voice of Amit Shah in the tape?

Supreme Court is monitoring the case. Supreme Court is examining the issue.

Why was he opposing a central probe into Snoopgate?

I haven’t opposed anything. The case is in Supreme Court. I don’t want to play any role.

Did he believe Snoopgate was part of a campaign of malice?

I will tell you to leave Snoopgate to the Supreme Court. Do not bring it here. I have told you this already. And your job is not to trap me like this. This is not why I have given an interview to you. Your job is to ask me questions, and my job is to give you answers. And if your intention is to trap me or target me, please tell me accordingly, as I am well prepared for that as well. You can do that if you want. You can call as many people as you can for that. I am ready to face it. But this is not the right way.

Was he surprised his Doordarshan interview was censored?

I didn’t even know that it was censored or not because we never have so much time. But suddenly this issue of my comments on “daughter” became very prominent. I never said anything like that. Then I asked my party members to show me the interview.... Then I realised that it wasn’t just censorship but it was a conspiracy.... Then I told my party members to release the original video on YouTube

Why had he reacted to Priyanka Gandhi after saying earlier that she was speaking as a daughter and that he wouldn’t hit back even if she abused him?

If you are raising serious allegations against me then can I not respond? Shouldn’t I respond?

Why there was so much personal animosity with the Gandhis, why he had made so many remarks against them

What kind of remarks? Why don’t you cite a few? You please be specific....

...the repeated reference to “mother-son govt”

You tell me whether there is any question on that after the book of Sanjay Baru?

...the reference to Rahul Gandhi as “shehzada” and telling Sonia Gandhi to let the “shehzada” take over because she was ill

I said that if she is not well she should ask her son to take care about the electricity. It was a very simple and pure statement.

Whether a news conference on Robert Vadra, titled Damad Shree, was not evidence of personal vendetta

You can see my track record for last 14 years. No one can accuse me of vendetta.... Corruption is a major issue this election. So many cheap and false allegations have been levelled against me. You have no time to acknowledge them. But if BJP reveals all the facts to the nation, you call it vendetta.

Why the BJP government in Rajasthan, formed in December, has not yet ordered a probe on Robert Vadra

This is proof that we work on the basis of facts and with a judicious mind and we don’t take political decisions in a haste.... We are proceeding based on facts and we are following the judicial process. If it’s not proven then it’s fine, and if it’s true then the country will come to know.

Why the difference in the rates at which land in Gujarat is given to the Adanis as opposed to the others

Firstly, if you go to Ahmedabad to buy a piece of land, and if you go to Kutch to buy a piece of land, will there be no difference? Tata is in Ahmedabad. Kutch is a desert area. Mass land near the sea also needs to be considered... Congress government has given land at the rate of 20 paisa. Not just that but at this very same location, at the same rate, the Gujarat government gave 1,000-bigha land to Indian government.... Such a large area at this rate only because it’s marshy land. Only water is visible in this land and it has to be filled. And that land is completely barren land. Nothing can be produced there.

Was he ready for a debate?

I have no problem at all. Instead of a debate I would suggest, you set up a team that is knowledgeable about revenue laws. Find out the presence of Adanis across India. Find out in what regions they are present and what they have got. Secondly find out if the Gujarat government has given anything that’s not a part of the policy. Whether my policy is faulty can be debated. A policy can benefit even Arnab and even Tata. Even Vadra can benefit from a policy.

Given that he has criticised subsidies, would he be ready to roll them back if he were to come to power?

Who has told you this? When have I said anything to this effect?... I will say that the first right to the country’s coffers belongs to the poor. The government should cater to the poor.

Would a Modi government revoke FDI in retail?

The government is a continuous process. But it is very unfortunate when SP creates a district and BSP comes and destroys it, AIADMK takes some decisions and then DMK comes and overrules it to make another. The country cannot run this way. Mature decisions must be taken. BJP has never spoken words of hatred. All we have said is, that the country is now going to face a huge shock in the manufacturing sector and our youth will lose jobs. Therefore, the country’s priority must be to ensure job creation.... For example if they try to trade umbrellas in India from the international market, as a result of which small umbrella-making organisations in our country are forced to shut down, how are our people going to make their living?

Would he be guided more by the pro-market reformist approach or the Swadeshi RSS approach?

As far as RSS thinking on economic issues goes, all they believe is doing good for the poor. When it comes to me, and if I am in power I believe that I cannot contradict anyone who thinks on the lines of improving the country’s economy.

Whether he would allow talks with Pakistan to continue despite ceasefire violations.

Is it possible to have discussions amidst bomb blasts and gunshots? So to have a reasonable discussion, first the blasts and gunshots have to stop.

...if Pakistan does not change its stand?

If the country looks strong, neighbours will change and the atmosphere will change....

But why not say talks and terror cannot continue?

If the country’s government is strong, the solutions will be found automatically.

Would he continue with the UPA’s policy of pleading with Pakistan to cooperate on Dawood Ibrahim?

I believe you are making a non-issue an issue here. Non-issue in the sense it is not an issue of greater importance...

Whether he would have been tougher on the US than the UPA was, following reports that India was being snooped upon

When we get first-hand information, we will analyse it and will come to a conclusion on what to do.

Whether Rajnath Singh or Sushma Swaraj would find place in a Modi cabinet

Thank you for already forming the government for me, please do leave some work for me to accomplish too. Leave some decisions for my party, our team will sit and decide on these things.

That he was seen to over-centralise, which could be a weakness if he were to become PM

You will be surprised to see that all the credit that I am being given for the development of Gujarat is wrong. In reality it is a team that is working.... For 14 years, I have had no work. I do not have to do any government work, I delegate it to my team, all the ministers have their professional freedom, but yes we do sit down every week for a discussion....

Also, secondly by God’s grace I still believe that every idea must be institutionalised and then that institutionalised activity will work.

So basically, I am a team worker and human resource management is in my blood. So optimum utilisation of the resources, be it human, time or monetary resources, I am gifted by the Almighty in that respect. I myself do nothing....

Courtesy of Times Now