Bhupendra Yadav, the rising star of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is a blue-eyed boy of party president Amit Shah. He was in charge of the Gujarat elections, working closely with Shah and the state BJP team. Yadav travelled across Gujarat to make the organisation battle-ready for a tough election. Shah and Yadav’s team is lightly dubbed as “fire and ice”. In an exclusive interview, Yadav expresses satisfaction in the fact that every second voter of Gujarat has voted for BJP even after 22 years of rule.
Q: Many people think that Congress has earned a moral victory in Gujarat.
A: If Congress thinks so, then it means that they are living in an illusory paradise. If they have this misunderstanding, then we have no problems. After ruling for 22 years, BJP has tried to stop the ugly attempts at caste-based politics of Congress in Gujarat. And by receiving a mandate again in Gujarat, BJP has got opportunity to serve the public. If you talk of the quantum of votes, then BJP has got about 50% votes. So you should understand that every second Gujarati voter has chosen BJP. It is a matter of satisfaction for us that even after 22 years, every second person has chosen BJP.
Q: How will you explain the way the Prime Minister campaigned?
A: Every second vote is of BJP. Look at any state and see if any government that has been in power has got such percentage of votes. People make government with 30-35-40% votes. Sometimes, the statistics of election—the winning seats could be with a small margin, seats could be lost with a small margin—this time the number of seats with smaller margins are much more. BJP has lost some 30 seats by small margins.
Q: But Congress said that, even, they lost 15 seats with a margin of less than 3,000.
A: They completely lost a state—Himachal Pradesh. They ruled there for five years. And in the 22 years of rule, despite the so-called anti incumbency, people of Gujarat have demolished Congress’ campaigning of lies. 50% of the people have voted for BJP and that fact is a matter of pride for us.
Q: After the election results, the PM and Amit Shah—rather the whole party has picked up a line in their defence that it is because of the caste-based politics of Congress that you could not get 150 seats. Was caste-base politics absent in 2012?
A: Look at the political traditions of this country. From the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to Narendra Modiji, nobody has endorsed caste as Rahul Gandhi has done. Ram Manohar Lohiyaji ran a party in this country, Jayprakash Narayan led a movement in this country, there was V.P. Singh and his Mandal politics. But has ever the president of any national party gone to the meeting of a caste-based organisation? Has it ever happened in this country that the national president of any party, as Congress’ Rahul Gandhi, has gone to the meeting (Kshatriya Thakor Sena of Alpesh Thakor) of a failed district president? And what was the reason that they tried spreading falsehood from the side of Hardik Patel about the injustice being done to the Patidars? Why did, then, Rahul didn’t share the stage with Hardik? Since PAAS spoke of reservation, then why didn’t Rahul Gandhi give the assurance of 15% reservation to them? You use the planks of caste, you support covertly the caste movements, you also entice the people of different castes, do you know that this is unconstitutional? This is the same Rahul Gandhi, who did not hesitate in supporting the people who did anti-national sloganeering at JNU and, in a similar way, didn’t hesitate in playing caste politics here as well. But by now, Congress has lost 29 elections under his leadership only.
Q: Congress can very easily ask you what did you do? In the Palanpur rally, PM Modi quoted an unknown Pakistani who tweeted on Ahmed Patel and gave an impression to people that the dinner at Mani Shankar Aiyar’s home had some anti-national agenda. It can be argued that if Rahul Gandhi played on caste politics, you did divisive politics.
A: We never did divisive politics. Pakistan is not a religion. It is just a neighbouring country. Let the Congress ministers say why they went into denial on the first day about the dinner meeting and why did that statement come out only after a day? They should tell us why they denied that meeting. From our side, we never created any issue. Whatever issue was raked up, it was only raked up after the denial. It was the Congress that made the issue out of accepting or denying the meeting.
Q: Denial may have come because there was no meeting as such, it was a dinner. You know the difference between a dinner and a meeting?
A: They should have told this on the first day then, whether it was a dinner or what…
Q: The confusion happened…..no?
A: The nation saw their confusion. You are also accepting then that Congress was confused and the nation cannot be confused because of Congress’ confusion. Congress remained confused, and Gujarat’s mandate came in BJP’s favour with full majority.
Q: Don’t you think the doubts being raised on EVM are rather unfortunate?
A: That is all baseless.
A: Where is Congress saying anything post-election results?
Q: Hardik Patel is raising doubts.
A: The Election Commission had done a mock drill earlier itself. The Congress was present there as well. Also, when Ashok Gehlotji gave his statement, the matter got over. Ashok Gehlotji himself was the CM of Rajasthan. He had won 21 seats out of 200. And at that time, he was the CM and they were in possession of EVMs. So you can understand what it means…no one can do anything to EVMs.
Q: But, you know what happened in Vagra in Bharuch. Here, in two villages, votes cast in EVMs were 509, but when they were counted, the total count was 591, in another EVM, 152,190 votes were polled, but the final count was 152,251. So how do you explain this? In Dwarka, Bharuch, Ahmedabad, the number of votes counted are more or less than the number of votes pressed in EVMs. How do you explain that?
A: See, in the Conduct of Election rules, there is a Clause 49M, that if someone casts a wrong vote, they can file their objection. Out of the four-and-a-half crore voters of Gujarat, there were only two such applications. Secondly, the Election Commission has a direction from 18 October 2011, that if there is a difference between the votes cast and counted, this can be checked through VVPAT. So this is known to the EC and Congress both. There should be fair elections and based on regulations. I have a question. Should the Congress conduct a protest against EC while an election is in progress? Has the Congress ever stopped people who have violated the EC rules? Congress has morally fallen down so badly. They used all incorrect strategies, did all kinds of campaigning. But in the end, the country’s democratic spirit won. And people helped BJP win in this democracy. We believe in the constitutionality of the EC and its unbiased capability.
Q: Congress is likely to challenge a few seats in court.
A: This is rumour-based publicity and again their politics of lies will lose.
Q: There are too many seats which Congress lost with a margin of less than 3,000. How do you explain this?
A: There are 44 such seats where BJP has won by a margin of 30,000 votes. We have won with a great margin in many areas. There are 30 such seats in this in which the margin of NOTA has been quite high. I appreciate that after 22 years of rule, the people of Gujarat have again chosen BJP. This election is no more about numbers, now we have six-and-a-half crore Gujaratis with us and their uplift is our target and service is our aim. I dedicate this victory to leadership qualities of PM Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.
Q: But what is your explanation for having got only 99 seats?
A: The result isn’t bad. We have formed our government, every second voter has voted for us. Now working for the six and half crore people of Gujarat is our aim…
Q: The Congress seems to have performed better, got more seats and Rahul Gandhi has also repackaged himself to emerge stronger. How do you feel?
A: This is the perception of the Congress and not of the country.
Q: Those of us who were on ground felt that Rahul’s temple visits were unsettling BJP.
A: Why should we be unsettled?
Q: What political message comes out of his temple visits?
A: There is no political meaning. I know that he hasn’t gone to the temple even once after becoming the president. He went only when the elections happened. Otherwise, I haven’t seen him ever going to temples in the normal course.
Q: We see that two major parties of Indian politics may end up as Hinduvadi?
A: See what we call Hindutvavad is something about the new India, that has been reformed due to a grand traditional and cultural movement, led by people like Swami Vivekananda, Raman Maharishi and Maharishi Arvind, Swami Dayanand Saraswati. Gandhiji used to start his prayers with the Vaishnav Jan Bhajan by Narsi Mehta. All in all, this is about the flow of culture. In the longer run, the issues of the country like women’s education, untouchability, justice for everyone, everyone’s participation mean a lot to us. When the Constitution was made, we spoke about values of life. It means to promote the cultural values of the country. And the promotion of these values is what we have called cultural nationalism. And if you ever read Lohiyaji as well, he had said that all the temples of India are the centre for the revival of cultural values of the country.
Lohiyaji had started the Ramayana Mela in Ayodhya, Dr Ambedkar promoted the teachings and values of Buddhism. This is a very vast cultural structure of this country. Today, the BJP is at the Centre; if other political parties also follow these principles, we have no problems. The people who are working on cultural nationalism are original and those who are photocopying it are photocopying it.
Q: For the 2019 elections, winning 26 seats in Gujarat has become difficult now. If you impose these results on the Lok Sabha constituency, you will get much less seats now.
A: If you analyse the 2012 elections, we had 16 seats. If you analyse today, we have 19 seats. So to reach from 19 to 26 won’t take us much time.
Q: What lessons did you learn from the Gujarat elections?
A: First of all, I got the inspiration of how a politician should work from the way our PM Modi and my president Amit Shah dedicated themselves to the party and the country. Second, after seeing the whole of Gujarat, when you go from the south of Gujarat from Dedhiyapara to Netaran, you get to know how much agriculture has flourished in the tribal area. When you see 24-hour electricity in the cities, when you see women so safe, when you see people enjoying Garba without any obstructions, when you see how the dry Sabarmati can be turned into a beautiful riverfront, when you see the cities developing, people working in dairies, the development of co-operative sector, the increase in agricultural produce, you know why we have been retaining power since over two decades.
Q: What about Saurashtra? Did you see discontent?
A: The government announced a supportive cost for cotton and groundnuts at the right time. The culture, traditions, festivals, laws, safety, respect of women, education, decrease of dropout ratio in Gujarat—all these have developed during the rule of Narendra Modiji. Other states should also follow this. We have lost some seats due to farmers’ issues.
Q: Did you get the votes of Koli Patel?
A: We got every second vote of Gujarat. Now you can count this.
Q: You got the vote of every second voter because of the splendour of Narendra Modi or was it because your booth management was good?
A: Definitely, there is an organisational power of the workers. The party elaborated on its organisational strengths.
Our workers are dedicated to a particular ideology. The party is in power for 22 years and still the party’s communication with the workers is the same and is an ideal for any other party. So it is a combination of the communication with the party workers and the blessings of the people of Gujarat.
Q: So how much did the Modi factor play in?
A: Modiji works as the inspiration for every one of us.
Q: Will you help Patels in getting reservation?
A: We talk of justice for everyone and do not make false announcements like the Congress.