Nitin Gadkari: Today, we are facing the worst economic crisis in the history of India. Besides, theres corruption in governance. A leadership thats unable to take decisions is the basic reason behind our current problems. We are the principal opposition party and we should come to power after the general elections. But the important question is not who will be in power or whether or not we will get a majority. The most important thing is that can we save this country from the current economic crisis Also, the law and order situation is very bad. Earlier, there was vote bank politics and sympathy for terrorists. Now, that sympathy has been converted into support for the sake of vote bank politics. Some parties are using their political power to help terrorist organisations and terrorist leaders. This is very unfortunate for the country. Because of vote bank politics, the present government is creating problems for the future of the country by supporting terrorist and terrorist organisations and adopting a sympathetic approach towards them.
Ravish Tiwari: Why did you take so long to announce a chief ministerial candidate for the Delhi Assembly elections
The BJP is not a family concern; it is a democratic party. For any decision, we consult at all levels and with different leaders. Thus, the decision-making process takes a lot of time. The same process was followed while deciding the prime ministerial candidate. At that time too, there was a lot of consultation. It is very natural for the BJP. In the Congress, one individual is authorised to take all decisions. The master gives order and the servants obey. In our party, there are a number of masters.
Pragya Kaushika: You had earlier said that the BJP has decided not to field a CM candidate. What happened now
There was a feeling in the party that people need a face, otherwise it will be difficult for the party to get votes. After discussing this with all leaders, particularly those from Delhi, and after studying all the surveys, we came to the conclusion that we have to select someone.
Coomi Kapoor: What is your candidate going to stand for Sheila Dikshit stands for what she has done for development in Delhi. Arvind Kejriwal talks about both parties being part of the establishment and corrupt. We dont know what Harsh Vardhan stands for.
As Delhis health minister, his contribution towards the country, particularly pertaining to polio eradication, was remarkable and historical. He is an honest leader. He is a leader with a vision. He is very approachable, humble and has all qualities and the potential to become a good chief minister. As far as Sheila Dikshit is concerned, for the last 15 years, shes been the CM. But the Metro, Right to Information Act and other such steps and projects were started during the BJP regime. I am confident that we will get a good majority.
Rakesh Sinha: Do you consider the Aam Aadmi Party a challenger
Not at all. That party is supported by the media. What he (Kejriwal) talks about is baseless, without any relevance. I am not serious about him.
Pragya Kaushika: Youve put up hoardings of Harsh Vardhan with Narendra Modi. The tagline says they are imaandaar netas. It never occurred to the party to say the same when Vijay Goels pictures figured prominently on the hoardings.
Goel is also an honest leader. There are no allegations against Goel.
Pragya Kaushika: With Goel as the Delhi unit president and Harsh Vardhan as the CM candidate, theres a lot of confusion among workers and leaders at the district level as to who is in-charge of Delhi.
I am in-charge of Delhi. Harsh Vardhan is the leader. If one worker is A square and another B square, the total work is A square plus B square. But when A and B come together, think together and work together, the answer is A square plus B square plus twice AB. And this twice AB is the result of collective team spirit. In the BJP, no one is the father of the party, no one is the owner of the party, no one is the master of the party. This is not a family party. This is a democratic party and we work as a team. Goel is an important person, part of the team; Harsh Vardhan is equally important, and is part of the team. Im also part of the team.
Prawesh Lama: Dont you think you have chosen Harsh Vardhan as the CM candidate a little late in the day
Not at all. In a democratic party we have to take a decision after consulting many people, it is a lengthy process.
Pragya Kaushika: Your candidate list is not out. You have your own surveys on probable candidates. How will you ensure their victory
I have my own system. During the Bihar Assembly polls, 95% of the candidates were given tickets on the basis of surveys. Even in Delhi, we are not influenced by any one leader. We are very cautious, practical, and I consult all district presidents. At present, I have opinions on six districts. I have got results of different types of surveys. I can tell you within 10 minutes what are the problems of a particular polling centre.
Aneesha Mathur: The issues in Delhi, in addition to corruption and price rise, are safety and security, which is one thing that Sheila Dikshit has been talking aboutthat police are not under her. How would the BJP deal with this if it comes to power, as there will still be the problem of the Congress government at the Centre
I feel its time the Central government gave more power related to law and order to the state governments. The problem is not Sheila Dikshit. The problem is the Congressits non-serious approach towards sensitive issues.
Seema Chishti: Your partys stand on Pakistan is quite clear. But regarding Sri Lanka, theres uncertainty.
When Sushmaji visited Sri Lanka as the leader of Opposition, we had taken a stand that the Sri Lankan government should protect the rights of Tamilians and people of Indian origin there.
Seema Chishti: Should the PM visit Sri Lanka for CHOGM
100%. He should go there. He should talk with them. We have to improve our relations with Sri Lanka. We have to protect the Tamilian people of Indian origin. The people in India are very serious about their issues. I feel that it will be appropriate to go there and in democracy issues need to be discussed to solve a problem.
Pragya Kaushika: There were rumours that the BJP is in talks with Kiran Bedi.
We never talked with Kiran Bedi.
Pradeep Kaushal: On hindsight, do you think it was a good strategy backing the Lokpal agitation of Anna Hazare, friends
When Annas health deteriorated, Prashant Bhushan, Manish Sisodia and Medha Patkar came to my house. At that time many BJP leaders were not in a position to support them. But I have a lot of respect for Anna. I was concerned about his health. So at that time, we took a decision to support them. But after that, my experience was not good. Sometimes, I feel it was my mistake. I wanted to save Annas life. But after my experience with Kejriwal, I feel that it was a mistake.
Krishna Uppuluri* : You are from Mumbai and close to Manohar Joshi and Uddhav Thackeray. What do you have to say about the recent rift in the Shiv Sena
It will not be appropriate to make any comments on the Shiv Sena. I am very close to Manohar Joshi. I have good relations with Uddhav and Raj Thackeray. The Shiv Sena is our alliance partner and whatever problems they are facing, we will try to help them solve it.
Muzamil Jaleel: In your introductory remarks, you talked about the government supporting terrorist organisations.
In the Batla House case, a leader of the Congress said its a fake encounter and Kejriwal also said that its a fake encounter. I feel that terrorist organisations and terrorists, particularly the organisation leaders, have direct or indirect access to the Congress. Thats why Congress leaders are constantly going to Azamgarh to meet family members of terrorist... they want to exploit the... vote bank.
DK Rituraj: The recent change in law where if you are convicted by a court you go into political exilewhat is your take on that and how has it affected the prospects of your party
The decision of the highest court is final. But before that if you are taking any action against anybody, it cannot be justified. Our party does not support criminals. However, if an appeal is pending, let the apex court decide. If he is held guilty, then it is the final verdict. Before that if you are taking any action, its not appropriate. The CBI is becoming a Congress Bureau of Investigation and the government is surviving only because of the CBI director. They are using the CBI, theyve been blackmailing their colleagues, alliance partners. This government is making false cases against their political opponents. I am an honest person. I am the only politician in the country who raised four thousand crores from the capital market. But theres a media trial against menot a single thing is there and you write columns after columns, giving coverage in TV. Nothing is proved. My in-laws belong to that company. No director, no share holding. You have no right to destroy the life of an honest leader.
DK Rituraj: Should a convicted legislator, MP or MLA be given the option to appeal
There is a provision under the law that after the decision of the high court, you can appeal to the Supreme Court.
Muzamil Jaleel: Do you think Lalu has been wronged by this decision
It is difficult for me to elaborate, I am also in politics. The way in which the ruling party is misusing the CBI and judiciary is really unfortunate. Now, what is this Mayawatis case and Mulayam Singhs case How did they change the affidavit two times in the Supreme Court Who took the decision to change the affidavit No one is ready to give the answer. If they say that we will support the UPA, then they will change the affidavit.
Ravish Tiwari: The BJP supported Rahul Gandhis stand that the ordinance regarding convicted legislators be thrown away.
I am not going to bother about anybody because politics is not my profession. I never do anything wrong. I feel that on the principle of justification, this is not correct and about Lalu too, you are publishing his photographs and six-column news. Suppose the Supreme Court says that Lalu is not guilty, what will happen to him What happened to Sudheendra Kulkarni in the cash for vote case If Kulkarni is not honest, no one in this country is honest.
Muzamil Jaleel: There were two terrorist attacks in Bihar. Bihar was peaceful for years together. All this started the moment the BJP and JD(U) split. What do you think is the reason behind these attacks, especially since your party rally was attacked Do you fear that there is a serious threat to Modi and have you talked to the government about it
The state government is responsible for the law and order situation. When we have a big rally, when a leader like Modi is there, it is the responsibility of the state government to take preventive measures as far as security is concerned. I dont want to comment on the government, but one thing is very clear that it is the failure of the state government and at the same time it is a failure of the Central government. About Modis security, definitely, theres a lot of threat to him from different types of people, organisations, terrorist organisations. It is the duty of the government to take preventive measures as far as the security of the leaders is concerned.
Kaunin Sheriff *: AB Vajpayees niece Karuna Shukla resigned from the BJP and alleged that she was mentally tortured and completely ignored by the central leadership. What are your comments
Shes a very good lady and a good leader. It is very unfortunate. She was denied a ticket and hence reacted in such a manner. We are trying our best to convince her.
Rakesh Sinha: What will be LK Advanis role in 2014
Advaniji and Vajpayeeji are our guiding philosophers, they are the founders. Advanijis role is that of a great leader of a party who will always guide us. It is up to Advaniji to decide, I will not comment on that.
Ravish Tiwari: Did you expect him to resign on June 10
No. Advaniji is a great leader and it will not be appropriate for any leader to make any comments about him in the media. I have tremendous respect for him.
Seema Chishti: Your partys senior leadership praises Advani. But you overruled an important point he made publicly, perhaps for the first time in his political career, and appointed your prime ministerial candidate. What were the supreme qualities because of which you chose your prime ministerial candidate and you did not choose the leader who is also your philosopher and guide.
It is a very clear fact that Modi is the most secular face of the BJP. People like him and, as far as the Gujarat government is concerned, he has become a role model of development in the country. There are many peopleeconomists, journalistswho feel that he is a capable man who can make good changes in Gujarat. His administrative ability, developmental approach, strong leadership, performance as a CM make him the best candidate for the post.
Ravish Tiwari: In many of your speeches you praised Bihar CM Nitish Kumar. Why has he become a villain for you after June 16
Im not saying he is a villain. Every political party has a right to take a decision. The problem is partys image versus reality and ground reality versus perception and the way some people like Mulayam Singh Yadav, who is supposed to be a socialist and a follower of Ram Manohar Lohia, are turning secular by formulating caste combination of Muslims and Yadavs. On the other hand, theres a progressive and secular leader, Narendra Modi, who doesnt believe in caste, religion, and yet, is considered communal. This is image versus reality. Nitishs feelings about Modi and BJP are not appropriate. Because of vote bank politics he is trying to take advantage of minorities. Also, the media wants to paint Modi as a villain for the minority community.
Transcribed by Shalini Narayan & Aditi Vatsa
* These are EXIMS students