‘80% of people in my seat are Muslims. I was worried when Modi was named PM nominee. But I managed to assure them I’ll stay same’

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SummaryDeputy Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Gopinath Munde plays down fears of Modi turning away potential allies and says BJP will get at least 200 seats in the coming polls

P Vaidyanathan Iyer: What is the possibility of Raj Thackeray joining the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance in Maharashtra ahead of the Lok Sabha elections?

I don’t see any possibility of Raj Thackeray joining the Sena-BJP alliance.

P Vaidyanathan Iyer: As a big brother who had initiated the alliance process, why are you ruling it out completely?

I tried a lot, but now I have given up. The reason being both Uddhav and Raj are leading their respective organisations and not agreeable to reconciliation. It is clear that the MNS (Maharashtra Navnirman Sena) is not keen on being part of the alliance.

Sandeep Ashar: Will it not lead to Marathi vote division and affect the overall electoral prospects of the BJP-led alliance in the state?

Raj Thackeray adopted the Marathi plank to make inroads in Maharashtra. In the last Assembly polls, the MNS managed to win 13 seats. In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, the MNS got zero seats. In the successive elections, the Sena and BJP returned to power in the BMC. By now, people know that on its own, the MNS cannot form the government. It has little at stake in Lok Sabha elections. Successive BMC and local bodies polls show that the MNS’ vote share has declined. If it further comes down by one-two per cent, it works to our advantage. Last time, we were caught unawares, as a result of which the Congress-NCP swept all six seats in Mumbai. Now, we have a plan in place. I am confident that we will win 50% of the 11 Lok Sabha seats across Mumbai, Thane-Kalyan-Dombivali, Nashik and Pune.

Mihika Basu: Don’t you think it is too early to dismiss the Aam Aadmi Party in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections after their performance in Delhi?

AAP will not perform here as well as they did in Delhi. The reasons for their magnificent performance in Delhi was three-fold: Anna Hazare’s agitation, mishandling of the Jan Lokpal Bill issue and the December 16, 2012, gangrape. There was anger against the Delhi government amongst the people there due to a series of scams coupled with law and order problems; anti-incumbency compounded the Congress’ problems. All of this helped AAP. Hazare’s agitations in Delhi were a huge success. But the same issues along with same team were a flop show in Mumbai. They did not receive a mass support in Mumbai. Secondly, the Delhi government was directly accountable for the corruption in

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