Are you in the race for the BJP’s CM candidate in Bihar? Not at all. Some people expected me to lead. LK Advaniji wanted me as Bihar’s chief minister twice. Atalji (Atal Behari Vajpayee) also wanted the same. But I have no desire, no expectations. If I am required in any capacity… not as CM, not even as minister, but even at grassroot level, I will be there.
How equipped is the BJP for the Bihar polls? We should do well, but the united opposition is definitely posing a challenge. We can turn that challenge into an opportunity. Bihar is still a caste driven society and there are very few people like me who are above the caste line. People there consider me as pride of Bihar. They know my success, my achievements. When it comes to elections, people vote on the caste lines. This is the right time to bring our house in order, strengthen our cadre, motivate workers and come out openly cadre, motivate workers and come out openly against these people with honesty and accept it as a challenge. This is a crucial election after Delhi.
So you admit that a united opposition is a huge challenge… Yes, but we can do it. After the roaring success in Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir, then comes AAP in Delhi. The party suffered extensively in Delhi. People said we are reduced to a one-scooter party. I had sensed that… I had seen the writing on the wall and the ground reality. Remember, I had joined the BJP when it had just two seats, and I don’t mind calling a spade a spade. We have to motivate our cadres. We lost Delhi due to overenthusiasm and overconfidence. The Bihar elections are going to be a litmus test. It will be a mother of all elections.
How do you rate Nitish Kumar’s performance in Bihar? He has proven himself to be one of the best chief ministers in the country.He has worked against the odds, has been able to take a leap forward. But Bihar has miles to go. Bahut kuch karna baki hai. Under the dashing leadership of Narendra Modi, we can take Bihar much ahead. Nitish Kumar has a good image, he has restored the Nalanda University. But politics is different. Our people are also very good.
But the BJP is struggling with groupism. There is Nandkishore Yadav and also Sushil Modi. How would you tackle this? I am not there to tackle anything. I am far away from the seat of power now. Sushil Modi is a committed man and has worked hard for Bihar. I hold him in a high esteem. Whether he is a mass leader or not is another question.Nandkishore Yadav is also a hardworking man. There are other leaders such as Giriraj Singh, Chandramohan Rai, CP Thakur… But we have to unite.There is still time
The honeymoon period of the BJP government seems to be over. The Centre is facing criticism from many quarters. Do you feel the anti-establishment mood is setting in? Perhaps, we are not living up to the expectations of our leadership, our dashing, dynamic Prime Minister Narendra Modi. We are not acting as per his vision. The Yoga Day and Swachh Bharat Abhiyan were turned into photo ops. This is the 13th month of our government and has not proved lucky for us. Lagta hai nazar lag gayi sarkar ko. Why can’t we deal with this crisis (the Lalit Modi controversy)? We have a majority of 282 MPs but there is one problem after another. These problems are going to Rajasthan (Vasundhara Raje-Lalit Modi controversy), then to Madhya Pradesh (the Vyapam scam) and now Maharashtra (allega tions of graft against Pankaja Munde and Vinod Tawde). I am pained, sometimes it is dfifficult to defend the indefensible. I can hope, wish and pray that these matters are sorted out.
What is your feedback to the BJP leadership? Whatever I spoke now has been conveyed, but certain things cannot be said in the media.
Will Pappu Yadav and Jiten Manjhi’s teaming up with BJP help the party? I have great respect for Manjhi. He is a simple, decent and down-to-earth man. I am also greatly impressed by Pappu Yadav’s performance in the Parliament.
Your comments on Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara Raje allegedly helping Lalit Modi… I don’t want to say anything. Sushma Swaraj and her husband are my personal friends. In my case, it is conflict of interest. I won’t say anything.
Your Bollywood and party colleague Hema Malini too is in the middle of a controversy, after she blamed the dead girl’s father for the accident in Rajasthan. Don’t you agree Hema Malini should have helped the accident victims? Hema is a very beautiful soul. One should realise that a person had been dazed and traumatised during the accident. She may not even know who took her to hospital. I know Hema is a kind and wonderful human being.
Is she paying a price for being a celebrity? She is a simpleton. I don’t think what she did was motivated.
You have been always close to Advani. You have said that he is your friend and mentor. Now that Advani has been sidelined within the party, probably that was the reason you were not given a Cabinet berth this time around… There is a play by Anupam Kher, titled Kuch Bhi Ho Sakta Hain. But I am not complaining. After all, it is a prerogative of the prerogative of the prime minister. I only hope and wish that this has not happened because of some motive. I hope I am not punished for something. I have been a Cabinet minister, first from the film industry to join the party, first from the Hindi film industry to become a Cabinet minister. Many times, I feel that I am from the heart of Bihar and won against all odds. Is there something more than what meets the eye? I hope it is not.
Courtesy: Mumbai Mirror