Venkaiah Naidu, ex-president of Bharatiya Janata Party, tells Gyan Verma why BJP stalled Parliament, why Arvind Kejriwal will find it difficult to sustain a political party and that there is no dearth of prime ministerial candidates in BJP
The Congress has alleged that BJP chief ministers recommended private companies for coal blocks. How do you defend it?
The state government is supposed to take care of the interest of the state but policies are laid down by the Centre. Is the government following the states’ request all the time? The government has been ignoring them. The state governments said that if there is a power plant in the state, that power plant should be given [the coal] blocks. If a state’s minerals or coal are taken away to other states then naturally the state will be agitated. That is why the CMs said that first allocate [coal] to the people who are willing to set up industries in their states. I don’t think there is any personal interest of any chief minister. The Centre always tries to find an alibi. I want this government to go. I agree that Parliament is for debate. We wanted to arouse the conscience of the people, that’s why we have taken a hard stand. There is no meaning in having a debate without any accountability. It is a painful decision to stall Parliament, and we don’t want to pursue it all the time.
Will the UPA government complete its full term?
This government has become directionless, the longevity of this government is being discussed everywhere. Everyday an ally of the government is talking about mid-term elections, first it was Mamata Banerjee and now it is Mulayam Singh Yadav. There is no coalition in this government. Congress doesn’t know the art of running a coalition. My suggestion is that Manmohan Singh should resign and the government should go; if they continue, it will be loss to the nation.
What prospects do you see for the political party of Arvind Kejriwal?
I don’t know. The other day Anna Hazare said that he has given up the idea of starting a party. Hazare started this movement against corruption, and he has public stature. I know him personally, he is a Gandhian. He has aroused the conscience of the people to some extent. But the moment he or his associates announced they will form a political party, I was a little disappointed because there is no dearth of political parties. We have seen how J B Kriplani failed, how Acharya Rajagopalachari’s experiment failed, and what happened to the great socialist movement of Ram Manohar Lohia. They have got every right to start a party, but I feel running a campaign around the country will be more beneficial than starting a political party. It is easy to start a party but difficult to sustain it.
Assembly elections will happen soon in Gujarat. What will be BJP’s strategy? Will the Naroda Patiya verdict affect the elections?
The main focus will be on the developmental brought to Gujarat by Narendra Modi. Development is his mantra — there is no reason to boast about it. He has emerged as the most popular CM across the country and that is why the Congress is afraid of him. We also want to raise the issue of discrimination faced by the non-Congress states. Since both the national parties are contesting the election, national issues will also be discussed. Naroda Patiya is an incident where the court has given its verdict and the legal process continues. As far as the judgment is concerned, I don’t think it will have any effect on the election. Since one MLA has been convicted, we can’t blame the CM or the party.
Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray has supported Sushma Swaraj as the prime ministerial candidate. Why is BJP not allowing a debate on the issue?
This issue has to be discussed first within BJP and then within NDA because it is not going to be a simple BJP government or it is not going to be a government supported by one party; so it has to be a collective decision of NDA. So far, neither BJP nor NDA has discussed this at any level. I am happy that Shiv Sena has taken the name of a leader from BJP as the prime ministerial candidate. There is no dearth of prime ministerial material in BJP.