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In UP, we will repeat results of the 1998 polls


Narendra Modi’s man Friday and chief aide, Amit Shah has an onerous responsibility at hand. He has to ensure that the Gujarat strongman does very well in UP because that remains the best bet for the BJP to come to power. In a state where saffron power has been whittled down in favour of caste-based politics, Shah has his job cut out. So far, two of Modi’s rallies in Jhansi and Bahraich have been runaway successes. In an exclusive interview with Pramod Kumar, the Gujarat politician who is trying to make UP his second home, says Modi is already a cult figure in the state, his support growing by the day.
TSI | Issue Dated: November 24, 2013, New Delhi
Tags : Lok Sabha | BJP | Amit Shah | Narendra Modi | UP | Uttar Pradesh |

For Modi to come to power, UP which has 80 Lok Sabha seats will play a crucial role. You have the responsibility to ensure that BJP does well.

I have been given this responsibility because UP is the most politically crucial state in the country. It is not that BJP does not have capable workers, our effort is a joint one in which we are going to be successful. Our rallies are drawing big crowds and we will ensure that the seats we win in the state will propel the BJP to power at the centre.

What is your assessment of UP’s political climate, particularly its voters?


The political scene in UP is quite complex and very different from Gujarat. There are caste-based parties here. That is because it is a large state and the voters are very aware; in fact they are closely connected to politics and can be called political voters. That is why there are five political parties in the fray. I am aware of the responsibility that has been given to me and I believe I will be able to do what is expected of me. UP’s aware voter now wants a development-oriented government at the centre.

Are you basing your premise on the rallies so far? Do you think the crowds which attended the rallies will vote for BJP?

The crowds that assembled were not hired. They came to listen to Modi and evaluate his thinking. The fact that big crowds came to listen to him is what is giving opposition the jitters. Congress wants a ban on opinion polls and Mulayam Singh Yadav has had to perforce hold a Vikas rally. In UP, people are coming to Modi’s rallies without being prompted. People in this state are tired of caste-based politics and a government in Delhi which does nothing for the common people. They want change.

It is often said that the BJP is an urban-based party.


Not true. Narendra Modi is getting support from all sections of society, indeed from every house in the state. His rallies at Bahraich and Jhansi had a sprinkling of urban supporters while a majority of those who attended were from the rural areas. This is a myth that has been perpetuated deliberately. In the 1998 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP won 58 seats. This time, history is going to repeat itself and the BJP flag will fly high with the majority it gets from UP.

What about OBC and minorities? Will they vote for the BJP?


The political wind is in Narendra bhai’s favour. He is getting the support of the young voters from across the spectrum because they believe that Modi is the man who can lead them to their dreams.

Modi had addressed a rally in Delhi University. Do you plan similar meetings in UP universities?


Yes. We want to meet first-time student votes and tell them about Modi’s vision of India. We want a dialogue with them, tell them about our plans and lay out our vision for their future.

Apart from Modi’s so-called charisma, what other issues is the party going to raise?


After various interactions with people here, I have come to the conclusion that people are tired of all kinds of caste-based political experiments. The youth of today wants a change, away from caste issues. They want a better future. This is a time of change which the first-time voter wants to effect with his or her votes. At the regional level, there are grave imbalances. Bundelkhand and eastern UP remain highly underdeveloped. On the other hand, Congress has failed the people; import-export is down, industries have closed down and the farmer is living in extreme penury and poverty. Due to faulty economic policies, inflation is touching the roof. But the Congress says if inflation has gone up, so have incomes. They will pay a price for this arrogance.

Mulayam Singh Yadav says the BJP and Modi have no base in UP and that he is restricted to Gujarat.


The reality is Modi’s two rallies have thrown a big scare in both the SP and BSP. This is why Mulayam Singh has had to change his candidates and hold a rally on his home turf. It is easy to organize a rally with the help of government machinery but in Modi’s meetings, people come voluntarily.

The Congress is saying the same thing.


If the Congress was so sure, why do they want opinion polls banned? They too are apprehensive of the response that the Gujarat chief minister is getting so they are making noises.

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017