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Peole will say sorry to Congress - Organiser

G. Sreedathan ()
February 15, 1998

Title: Peole will say sorry to Congress
Author: G. Sreedathan
Publication: Organiser
Date: February 15, 1998

"Smt Sonia Gandhi is not setting up the agenda for the BJP. The
criticism that the Congress campaigner is setting up the agenda
for the BJP is a creation of the Trustrated elements in the media
that cannot digest the emergence of BJP as the ruling party",
says Shri Venkaiah Naidu. G. Sreedathan of organiser spoke to him
on wide ranging topics including political situation of his home
State, Andhra Pradesh, Excerpts:

You have opted out of contest. Is it because your prospects of
winning the elections were not bright?

For the BJP this election is the most challenging one as our
party is most likely to form the Government at the Centre. So
the party requires one such senior leader at the party
headquarters as to coordinate the campaign, arrange the tours of
senior leaders and disseminate informations to State units and
leaders. Also, other general secretaries Pramod Mahajan and
Sushma Swaraj are contesting the election, Govindacharya is
overseeing the affairs of State of Bihar and Kushabhau Thakare is
busy with organisational aspects of the party. So, the Party
asked me to manage the office. All poll surveys show a massive
swing in favour of the BJP in Andhra Pradesh. The survey done in
my own constituency shows that there is every possibility of
BJP's bagging the seat.

What are the issues your party is taking up in this elections?

Out main issue is - stable government and able leadership. The
country is facing multi-dimensional challenges. Four decades of
Congress misrule and unstable Government by its clones have
ruined the country. Unless there is a stable Government at the
Centre there can be no progress. So we are highlighting the issue
of stable government and able leadership. Also we have projected
Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee as the Prime Minister as he commands
respect of all sections of the society in country and also
abroad. Besides, issues pertaining to corruption, unemployment,
urban-rural disparity, Ayodhya, abrogation of Article 370 and
others are also being raised in this election. While in the
State, in particular we are raising issues of the plight of
farming community and the price hike. Recently at a public
meeting in which the CM was also present, a farmer ran to the
dais and committed suicide by consuming poison. Over two months
there have been 73 suicides in Andhra Pradesh, which is
considered to be the granary of India.

How many seats do you expect to win from AP?

With regard to seats, it is not fair on my part to say in term of
number. But I can assure you that the BJP will make a major
breakthrough and will poll more than 20 per cent of the total
votes. Also the BJP shall have a good number of seats from the

The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Shri Chandrababu Naidu says
that such programmes as Janmabhoomi and Praja Vaddaku Palana
would bring him victory in over 30 seats in the State. Please

Well, I can tell you the Telugu Desam is going to be doomed in
this election. The contest in the State is basically between the
Congress and the BJP. First, if you go by the history of polling
in Andhra Pradesh, you will find that there has been 25 to 30 per
cent anti-Congress votes polled in every elections. And various
parties, namely, the Communist Party of India, the Swatantra
Party, the Janata Party and the Telugu Desam benefitted from this
>from time to time. But ever since the Telugu Desam joined hands
with the Congress at the Centre, that section of electorate has
been annoyed with it. in fact the Telugu Desam has been an anti-
Congress party and N.T. Rama Rao (NTR) had almost finished the
Congress in the State but Naidu has revived it. So the "co-
operation in Delhi and operation in Hyderabad" will not work any
longer. Second, NTR had initiated many welfare schemes for the
poorer section of the society. But Naidu has done away with all
that. Moreover, he has taken up some unrealistic programmes at
the dictates of the World Bank. This also has angered the people
of the State. As far as Janmabhoomi and other programmes are
concerned they are nothing but electoral gimmics.

During the much publicised Praja Vaddaku Palana (administration
going to the people) he received as many as 40 lakh petitions
>from the people. But not much has been done to address these
petitions as. 30 lakh petitions are still gathering dust in the
Government offices.

The Chief Minister of AP is saying that the BJP is not at all a
force in the State and that his party's fight is with the

Shri Naidu is changing his tunes. The very fact that he is
attacking the BJP at every meeting every day betrays his
nervousness over the growing support of the BJP. Initially, he
used to say that the BJP was his main rival and not the Congress.
In fact the BJP is eating into a major portion of the TDP votes
and as Naidu realised this he has taken recourse to such tricks.

The Congress claims that there is "Sonia wave" in the country,
especially in the South. What is your comment?

The Congress is a sinking ship, even though Sonia's entry has
breathed some life into the Congress. But it is only a temperory

So you mean to say that Sonia's entry has enlivened the Congress?

Of course. The Congress workers, who were earlier demoralised,
are now in the field. I am not denying this fact. But, at the
same time, the common man finds no hope in the Congress or a
leader able enough to solve country's problems. Knowing its
weakness, the Congress is not projecting anyone as its prime
ministerial candidate. Moreover, its president is not campaigning
for the party. In fact, all Congressmen are, depending solely on
one campaigner - who herself is not contesting the election! The
party has doubts about the outcome of the election. I can tell
you, the Congress is going to be finished in this election even
in the southern States. Although in some States, where the BSP is
weak, it may cash in on the anti-establishment votes-otherwise
there is not hope for it.

There is a criticism that Sonia Gandhi is setting up the agenda
for your party.

See, she is setting up the agenda for apologies and not for the
BJP. How has she set up the agenda for the BJP? This all is a
creation of some frustrated elements in the media that cannot
digest BJP's emergence as the ruling party. Earlier, they were
helpless; now they have found somebody they can bank upon their
hopes. However, we are thankful to Soniaji for airing those
private views of Shri Rajiv Gandhi that are contrary to his
public views. His public views on the Operation Bluestar, the
1984 anti-Sikh riots, etc, are vertically opposite to his private
views, if Soniaji is to be believed. She may apologise for
Emergency, corruption and so many other things. However, the
Congressmen have started their campaign saying "sorry" to the
people for their past misdeeds and it seems that they would wind
up the campaign with the people's saying sorry to them!

The Congress has denied ticket to P.V. Narasimha Rao. Will it
benefit the BJP politically?

Credibility of the Congress will go further down. The reason is
that all the present Congress leaders including Sita Ram Kesri
worked under him without any complaints against him as long as he
was the party president. But the moment he was out, they started
criticising him. The denial of ticket to him shows that they can
dump anyone. It wouldn't be surprising if their star campaigner
also meets the same fate. They may say the apologies are her
personal opinions and not party's. However, the denial of ticket
to the former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao has dampened the
spirit of Congress workers in the South.

Also there was a rumour that some persons close to him approached
the BJP. If he seeks political asylum will your party extend it
to him?

As far as the BJP is concerned, it has no sympathy for Narasimha
Rao. We cannot forget the fact that it was Narasimha who
fabricated false cases against Shri L.K. Advani in the hawala
case, Dr M.M. Joshi, Uma Bharati and Ashok Singhal in Ayodhya
case. He banned the VHP, and the RSS and dismissed the popular
State Governments ruled by our party.

But at the same time he had allowed the demolition of the Babri

Where was the masjid? There was no masjid but a disputed
structure. The delay on the part of the Congress Government,
Mulayam Government and the courts in settling the matter had
resulted in people's losing their patience. I do not attribute
the responsibility demolition to anybody, though the Congress
itself has become a self-confessed sinner.

It is reported that you have forged an alliance with the NTR-TDP
of Lakshmi Parvathi by promising key posts in Central cabinet, if
your party forms the Government at the Centre. Please comment.

It is ridiculous. We have not promised anything. Her party is
very small and there is no question of our submitting to
anybody's pressure tactics.

Your party has been criticising the Chandrababu Government for
relaxing prohibition. But how many of the BJP-ruled States have
imposed total prohibition? If your party voted to power at the
Centre would you impose prohibition at the national-level?

Our manifestos never promised total prohibition. The only State
where we promised was Haryana and there it has been implemented.
The erstwhile BJP Government of Gujarat also imposed prohibition.
Our point against him is that Chandrababu Naidu made a solemn
assurance in his manifesto that he would implement prohibition.
But after elections he relaxed the same. Our view is that
prohibition cannot be imposed until the demand comes from the
people. The BJP Government will not impose prohibition on the
national-level unless it is backed up by a popular movement.

Recently many film personalities have joined the BJP. So are you
not playing to the gallery?

No. After all film stars have been active in campaigning for
different parties and nobody has over raised any question. But
whenever the BJP gets the support of film stars. some people cry
foul. The BJP is now the darling of the masses. Every section of
the society is wholeheartedly supporting it. I feel that film
stars are the best medium to convey one's message to the people.
And those film stars who have joined the BJP are drawing huge
crowds. Also, film stars are the part of the society. So there
is no question of playing to the gallery. If we make false
promises or do some dramabuji, then it can be regarded as a
playing to the gallery. Like newspapers and other media, cine
stars are also trying to drive home our message to the masses.
There is nothing wrong in it.

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