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They can keep us out any longer - The Indian Express

Yogesh Pawar ()
February 2, 1998

Title: They can keep us out any longer
Author: Yogesh Pawar
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: February 2, 1998

In an exclusive interview to Express Newsline, the state vice-
president of the BJP, Ram Kapse, spoke about the state of the
opposition and his party's poll prospects and strategies.

Excerpts:

How is the Bharatiya Janata Party placed vis-a-vis other parties?
Will India see another hung Parliament?

Regardless of what opinion pollsters claim, the BJP will get an
absolute majority. There's no question of a hung Parliament as
our party already has an upper hand in states like Maharashtra,
UP, MP, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh.

In states like Assam, West Bengal, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and
Tamil Nadu, where we don't have a strong presence, we've tied up
with friendly parties. This will further boost the BJP's
chances.

How has the situation changed since May 1996, when your party
staked its claim to form the government?

The enthusiasm of keeping the BJP out of power, which had
'united' the United Front, has dissipated totally. Not only does
the Front stand divided, the Congress is also in bad shape.

It is highly unlikely that they'll be able to keep us out any
longer. Moreover, none of the parties have any leader who can
match the appeal that Atalji holds as a prime minister.

Isn the BJP, which claims to be a isciplined party using
the same tactics it criticised the Congress for?

Why does the media always have different sets of standards for us
and other parties? When people left our party in Gujarat to join
others, it was called 'a rethink' and 'change of heart.' And the
same newspapers accused the BJP of engineering defections when
people from the Congress decided to join us. We understand that
there will be criticism for our actions in Uttar Pradesh, but we
are playing by the rules set by parties like the Congress. Even
there, we benefited more from the antagonism between the Janata
Dal and the Samajwadi Party than from anything else.

Even today, compared with other parties, I maintain that the BJP
is still the most disciplined.

Considering the rate at which the party is entering into pre-poll
understandings with other parties, will they not prove to be a
liability in the post-poll scenario?

It's not true that there has been a large-scale migration to the
BJP The numbers are actually quite less. Only the period over
which this has happened has been very short, hence the rate of
entry appears to be very high.

As far as liabilities go, I should inform you that not more than
10-15 of those whoe recently joined us will be contesting on a
BJP ticket.

In Maharashtra, don you think the Shiv Sena always plays Big
Brother to the BJP?

There's no problem with the alliance at all. In fact, it could
be held up as an example of how partners in an alliance need to
conduct themselves to provide good governance. You have glaring
examples of arriages of convenience' breaking down all over,
but the alliance is still going strong after so many years. While
we have 24 seats in the Lok Sabha from Maharashtra, the Sena has
22, and in the Assembly the Sena has more seats than us. This
hasn't come in the way of our partnership.

Then why are the Sena and the BJP at logger-heads at the civic
level in Nagpur and Kalyan-Dombivli?

At civic and tehsil levels, party lines usually blur, and it can
be difficult to work with the party you have an alliance with.

We make adjustments to effect an understanding, but it hasn't
worked in Nagpur and Kalyan-Dombivli.

Of late, there have been instances of the various constituents,
of the Sangh Parivar thinking differently on the mandir-masjid
issue. Comment

This is untrue. Sangh Parivar constituents can't markedly differ
in their views on most matters, because the Parivar's ideology is
the same. It has already been established that both the Centre
and the judiciary can't solve the Ayodhya tangle. So any solution
will have to be only through negotiations.

Efforts have been made to paint us in sectarian colours, but
people know the truth. They can't be fooled any longer. The
mandir-masjid controversy was a burning issue in 1991, but there
have been other developments later, in accordance with which
we've revised our agenda. If a detailed discussion is had on a
one-to-one basis, you won't come across anyone who's stridently
fanatical as is sought to be projected.

What about the differences the BJP has with the Rashtriya
Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) over ree-market reforms?

While there are certain technology-intensive areas where India
could benefit from inviting foreign players, we've always been
for promotion of Swadeshi in areas like consumer goods.
Globalisation is no longer a dirty word. But, the BJP believes
in being cautious


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