BJP president Amit Shah today ruled out resumption of bilateral cricket ties between India and Pakistan anytime soon, saying the two countries would continue to play against each other in international tournaments. “India and Pakistan will continue to play at international tournaments but neither India plays in Pakistan nor Pakistan plays in India,” Shah, who heads the Gujarat Cricket Association, told reporters, a day ahead of the clash between the arch rivals in the Champions Trophy final in England.
On Kashmir issue, Shah said the state’s PDP-BJP government was working on a solution which will “change the current picture”. He, however, did not elaborate on what the solution to the vexed issue could be. When asked about the recent attacks on security forces in Kashmir, Shah said, “Such a situation has been there since 1989… violence erupts after a lull of few weeks or months. BJP and PDP are working on some solutions and the change will be seen soon.”
Shah, who is here on a three-day visit to strengthen the party organisation in the state, and is scheduled to meet Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, said BJP would consult its allies before finalising the NDA’s presidential candidate. He was responding to questions at a press conference about ally Shiv Sena, which has often been critical of the BJP and the Modi government, suggesting the name of M S Swaminathan, known for steering India’s Green Revolution, as its presidential choice.
The Shiv Sena had earlier said it may choose an “independent” path in the election to the highest constitutional office. It had backed Congress nominees — Pratibha Patil and Pranab Mukherjee — in the last two presidential elections.
Shah defended the approach of his party in meeting opposition leaders over presidential election without proposing a name. He said if BJP proposed a name to them, there would not be discussion.
“If we suggest a name of the candidate then they (opposition) will think that the name has already been finalised. Then there will not be any scope for discussion. Hence, we are asking them to suggest names,” said Shah. “Once the names have been suggested, we will finalise our name for the post of president,” he said. “We will consult all our allies and then reach a decision on the presidential poll nominee,” he said.
When asked about Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ remark that the BJP was prepared for snap assembly election, in an apparent reference to continued strain in ties with the Shiv Sena, Shah said, “What he meant was that if mid-term polls are forced on us, we are ready to fight.”
He went on to add that “I think the government is going to complete its five-year term. But, if the situation arises, we will not run away from the battleground and contest the election and win it.”
Speaking about the recent farm loan waiver announced by the Maharashtra government, Shah said, “Through it we are offering relief to the farmers. The burden of loan waiver will be on the government and not banks. “The NPAs that are largely talked about are the ones we have inherited from the previous government. We are also improving the situation of the banks in our country.”
Maharashtra’s agriculture growth rate was in negative (minus 8 per cent) a few years back. Today, it stands at 20 percent, which is a huge achievement of the Fadnavis government, he said. The water conservation programme– Jalyukta Shivar– has also yielded good results, Shah said.
Calling Narendra Modi the most popular leader since Independence, Shah said the prime minister was making all efforts to transform India into a world power by 2022, when the nation celebrates 75 years of freedom. Under Modi, he said, India had become the world’s fastest growing major economy. The BJP chief said Modi had restored dignity to the prime minister’s office. “Every minister in the previous UPA government considered himself the PM, but nobody considered the PM as PM,” he said.
Lauding Modi for enacting the Goods and Services Tax law, the BJP leader said nobody else had the “daring or capability” to do it. “India has emerged as a global leader on the issue of climate change, as seen at the Paris deliberations,” Shah said. Shah said the Modi government brought an end to politics of appeasement and dynastic rule. “Our biggest achievement is ending communalism, dynastic rule and appeasement (politics),” he said.