Amit Shah Interview

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by arnabmit, Nov 5, 2014.

  1. arnabmit

    arnabmit Homo Communis Indus Senior Member

    Dec 25, 2012
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    In an exclusive and detailed interview to Sheela Bhatt/, Shah discusses ideas and ideologies, Modi's policies, and the status of Indian political parties.

    Once upon a time you pasted posters on the walls of Ahmedabad for your party. Now you are its national president. On your first Diwali as BJP president, how do you look at the changes in your life?

    Times haven't changed as much as you say. I have reached here at the end of travelling in my political yatra of some 32 years. There is no doubt that in the mind of every BJP worker there is no bigger post than this.

    I have reached here only, and only because of the blessings of Ishwar (God). At least I see a lot of Ishwar Kripa (God's grace) behind my rise.

    Among the public, and even in your own party, there is surprise at your meteoric rise.

    Those who have seen me working and those who have actually worked with me may not be surprised too much. But one thing helped me. It is natural that because the BJP formed the government, an entire generation of leadership shifted into government. Probably because of it, I got the chance a little early in life.

    You have led an eventful life. Did you, at any point in life, ever think, 'One day I will become the president of the BJP'?

    Never. I never thought about it.

    Has an astrologer ever told you so?

    Never. After the UP Lok Sabha election results, till the media people started talking about it and made it an issue, I never took it seriously. When people started saying Amit Shah can even become party president. Particularly, when I didn't join the government and the media started writing about it, I felt that it (to become party president) is a possibility, maybe.

    Occupying the powerful chair of party president, do you find the Sohrabuddin murder case and other events associated with you in the past obstacles in performing your duty?

    Not at all. It was a political conspiracy against me, and I think the entire country believes so too. Otherwise I can't move around in the country as I do.

    Wherever I go, the people respond positively to me, they give me respect.

    I have got popularity. BJP workers have given me unmatched love. They admire me so much that I feel humbled.

    Lakhs of people can't go wrong in analysing those events associated with my life. They know it was definitely a conspiracy in which I was at the receiving end. I had no options then.

    Do you have any regret about the events involving you when you were minister of state for home in Gujarat? Do you feel you could have done things differently?

    Not at all. I have never done anything which I feel guilty about or wish I had not done it.

    Do you mean to say you are not taking into account that Gujarat background?

    Except for a couple of journalists like you, nobody is talking about it.

    Let us talk about your party. The BJP was a robust Opposition party for 10 years and now you are the ruling party. It is mostly described by the English media as a 'right wing Hindu nationalist party.' Is it the right way to describe your party?

    I don't want to comment on the media's analysis. Since its inception the BJP has made public its views and follows its ideological path. As the Jana Sangh from 1950 to 1977 and then from 1980 to 2014 as the BJP, we have been accepted as a political force. And now we have ushered in an era of respect from the people of India.

    I strongly believe that our ideology has been accepted by the people now.

    Do you then accept that you are a 'right-wing Hindu nationalist party'?

    We believe in the Panch Nishtha, five basic principles. (They are nationalism and national unity; democracy; equality-based society; positive secularism; and value-based politics.) We have announced this, we continue on this basis. Maybe you are unaware of it. I will hand over our literature after the interview.

    How do you find the job of party president?

    The party has too many challenges. There are regions of India where the party has yet to reach out. There are many jobs left undone.

    From the political point of view my work will remain incomplete till I take the BJP to the the four big states of West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

    In my tenure I want to put in the best of my efforts to make my work complete.

    But what is your vision for your party beyond electoral politics as party president, beyond losing or winning elections?

    I am not talking about winning or losing. These are such huge states where our organisation has not reached everywhere. This time we are launching a membership drive to strengthen our organisation in these states.

    Our membership drive is not related to elections. It will not be limited to the BJP's organisation. It will be a Jan Andolan (people's movement). In these four states we will create a committed cadre through this drive.

    What kind of changes do you want to bring in the party's ideas and ideology?

    I believe the basic ideology of the BJP (cultural nationalism) is eternal. It will survive time.

    Among all kinds of targets that you have, what is your main focus?

    From an organisation point of view, I want the BJP to be the bright national political party in all the states of India and having an impact on social life.

    It was said that you were Prime Minister Modi's nominee and it was only because of him that you could become BJP president.

    Have you become party president because of Modi or because of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh)? Or, have you become party president on merit?

    It is very difficult to say anything at this point of time on this issue. I believe that in the BJP nobody can make anybody anything. I have nothing to say if you are doing any interpretation. I believe the media should analyse this after the end of my tenure!

    We see a possibility of increasing political arrogance on the part of the Modi-Shah duo.

    First of all, your entire sentence is incorrect. Narendra Modi is too big a leader of the country. I am merely the chief of the political organisation. So don't use the term 'Modi-Shah duo.'

    Second, I don't believe that we have got arrogant after the election results. Yes, but we don't have fears within us, which you may be terming as arrogance.

    You mean you don't have a fear of the media?

    Yes. We have nothing to fear from the media, so you may be projecting that as our arrogance.

    After winning the election at the Centre we saw the political arrogance with which you moved forward and won in Maharashtra. The entire process by which you ended your decades-long relationship with the Shiv Sena suggests that.

    No, that was not a case of our political arrogance. Politics always moves on the ground of reality. What was the real situation? We simply said one thing. Ticket distribution should be done on the basis of each party's actual strength on the ground, the real situation.

    If our proposal had been accepted, the alliance would not have broken. We proposed a formula of 127 seats for the BJP, 147 for the Shiv Sena and the rest 14 for our allies. We got 123 seats.

    We have proved conclusively that our formula was based on actual strength.

    Nobody should live away from reality. The reality is that the BJP's ground situation has improved so its seat share should increase. In the past we settled for less number of seats. Why? Is it because the Shiv Sena was arrogant at that time? Of course not.

    At that time the Shiv Sena had more acceptance among the people so they got more seats. Today, the BJP's acceptance all over Maharashtra has increased, the Shiv Sena's acceptance has decreased if compared to us, so our share in seats should increase.

    It was a political and cunning calculation. You had a guarantee of support from the Nationalist Congress Party. The pre-election secret understanding with the NCP gave you great confidence to move ahead alone in Maharashtra.

    Let us accept this for the sake of argument. If the Shiv Sena would have accepted our formula of 127/147/14, what then? We had made our formula public. It was such a small issue.

    We waited for 72 hours after proposing our 127/147/14 formula. We needed to fix our own candidates. We had to fulfil the Election Commission's formalities. We hardly had any time.

    How do you rate the various political parties in India?

    Except two or three parties, most parties are dependent on one family. I believe that only parties where internal democracy is alive can achieve the ideals of democracy.

    There is a severe shortage in our country of political parties where internal democracy is alive and kicking.

    Those who observe your politics can see that you actually don't want a Congress-mukt Bharat, you want a regional parties mukt Bharat.

    I don't think so. I want to expand the reach of my own party. That's all.

    What I meant was that you target the regional parties more sharply than the Congress.

    My target is to expand the BJP's influence everywhere. I don't have any negative target.

    Which is the bigger challenge for you: The Congress or regional parties?

    For me the challenge is that my party is absent in certain areas and I want to make up that weakness. I want a bigger geographical expansion of my party.

    You have been a sharp observer of Congress politics. Tell us frankly, how relevant is the Congress in spite of its recent fall? How seriously do you take it?

    The Congress is quite an old party. The huge success of the Independence movement is credited in its account. But no party can survive long by depending on one family. Because of it, the Congress party has faced problems many times.

    I believe the BJP should respect each and every political party and the BJP should evaluate and consider each party's relevance in Indian politics and then formulate its own strategy.

    From your point of view, do you feel that the Congress carries the secular ethos of India and is based on a solid plank where it imbibes all religions, and goes along with the idea of inclusive growth of all castes and creeds?

    In India there are many such parties believing in inclusive growth for all.

    Then what is the Congress's uniqueness?

    It is a very old party and as I said, the independence movement is credited in its account.

    What is the centre-point of your politics?

    The centre-point of my politics is to strengthen my party and grow it organically.

    I joined the BJP and I remained in it because we want Bharat kalyan (welfare of India). We are struggling to make India strong, successful, prosperous, stable and respected. Whatever I am doing for my party is aimed at that.

    If compared to the Congress's origin your party is quite fresh. If seen from the point of view of history, it's not very old. What difference does it make?

    There is no question of any such limitation. It makes no difference to us that we are a post-Independence party. We have a strong base.

    There is no other party which from its inception to today has maintained internal democracy.

    There is no other party which had leaders who were internationally recognised much before it came to power.

    There is no other party credited with so many movements, whether it is the Save Kashmir movement or the anti-corruption movement or the fight against the Emergency.

    Since our inception we have only worked for the solution of India's problems. Even if you see through biased eyes, our history is magnificent.

    You are considered very ambitious.

    I have no personal ambition. But there is no doubt that I want my party to get strengthened in all those states where it is weak. I must spread the ideology of my party in those areas.

    There is confusion about your early years. You joined the VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad) first, right?

    No. First I joined the ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad) when I was studying in the Jyoti high school in Ahmedabad. Since around 1980, I have been working for the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh).

    While attending school I would visit the RSS branch. I became an office-bearer of the BJP in 1984, and made secretary of Ahmedabad city. That was my first official position in the BJP.

    I have worked for many movements of the VHP like the Ram Janambhoomi andolan when I was in the ABVP.

    I am sure you are aware that you are known as a doer, but people also find you ruthless in your actions. How do you feel about the perception of you that has developed in the public space?

    I have no issues about it. I have never lived my life depending on my public image. This could be a question for the people who buy my pubic image and judge me.

    My public image is not my problem. I always do whatever is necessary to expand my party. It is not for me to see what journalists will think when I am carrying forward my party’s interest.

    Who is the real Amit Shah then?

    Maybe even I don't know. Let the people judge on the basis of my real work.

    You know well what is the most negative thing going about your party. The manner in which senior and respected leaders like L K Advani and Dr Murli Manohar Joshi were sidelined, it shows your party in bad light.

    They have not been sidelined at all. We have not thrown away anyone's nameplate and haven't physically mishandled them as the Congress did to (its former president Sitaram) Kesri.

    We are debating internally on many issues. The fact is you are unable to find anything negative to say about the working of my party so you find faults that don't exist.

    How did you become an anti-Congress politician?

    I am not an anti-Congress politician. I have deep respect and faith in my party's philosophy. I am emotionally attached to my party's vision. Where is anti-Congressism in it?

    My mother was a staunch Gandhian.

    Why did you not follow her?

    Gandhiji and the BJP are essentially not mutually opposed (aantervirodh nathi, he said in Gujarati) to each other. Nobody has asked me ever. But those who know me know that I was only wearing khadi since my teenage years. From age 16 to this day, I have only worn khadi.


    What is this question? What why? Because my Gandhian mother has deeply influenced me.

    You became a full-time politician around 1985 or so. What is the difference in your ideals then and now, when you are the party president?

    I don't see much of a difference within me. Because of 30, 35 years of experience I have got the ability now to see things differently, but there is no basic change within me.

    But now you are seeing closely the huge presence of money power. You are seeing manipulative politics and corruption etc much more.

    Everything was there even then. You can't say yesteryear politics was clean and it is dirty now.

    Now you are much closer to the dirty realities of Indian politics. When you see all these things, do you feel disappointed?

    In a country which is just 60 years young, I will claim that the best politics is practised in India. We have the best process going on for strengthening democracy.

    We can't be so foolish as to compare a democracy which is 60 years old to a democracy which is 200 or more years old.

    Does corruption in India upset you?

    In every country a time comes when it faces a crisis. But then people do have the ability to find their own way. Only because of corruption did the BJP come to power in Gujarat. Due to corruption we came to power in New Delhi. This is a sign of change.

    People always find a solution for their issues. People are always in search of truth. People have a tendency to support truth. And people have a tendency to empower truth.

    There is a perceptible difference between Advaniand Vajpayee's BJP and Modi and Shah's BJP. It can't be termed in casteist term as a 'Bania-Brahmin' party. Now the OBCs have more say in power-sharing. How do you see this change?

    Those days were different. Once upon a time our party was limited to a certain strata of society, the educated civil society. Now the BJP has expanded and reached out to all classes of society. So naturally, we see a change in our profile.

    But the analysis of 'now and then' is not so simple.

    How do you see the social transformation taking place within the BJP?

    We believe that no social transformation takes place top down. All changes spring from the ground to the top.

    How do you decide on ticket distribution?

    Only when the demand comes up from the ground. It depends on the winning ability of the candidate, which is dependent on that particular group's backing to the candidate.

    The question of giving a ticket to anybody arises when there is a backing to the BJP from that group, when that group is associated with the BJP.

    You gave many more tickets to OBCs in Uttar Pradesh this time...

    No, in proportion to their population we gave fewer tickets to them. In Maharashtra and elsewhere, we are winning wherever we are able to show work on the ground.

    This question had to follow. There is not a single Muslim elected representative from your party. Out of 282 MPs, there is not one Muslim. Don't you find this awkward?

    It is not. At many places at the local level in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, where our Muslim workers are getting the backing of voters, they do fight elections.

    For the Lok Sabha also, leaders like Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Sikandar Bakht have fought elections from the BJP.

    But the broader image, in some sense, is that the party is anti-minority.

    The BJP doesn't see Indian voters through a prism of minority or majority voters. We should not do it. Even the media should not view it that way. We should see if he is a good leader or bad leader.

    What are your efforts to bring Muslims closer to your party?

    We are working towards bringing all the people of India closer to the BJP.

    Amitbhai, this is a stock answer. Why don't you move forward?

    You rise above your thinking. 'Hindu,' 'Mussalman' is the politics of the '50s. There is no politics of 'Hindu-Mussalman.' You get out of these theories. This country's journalists need to graduate to the new level on this issue.

    Our understanding is that the minorities want security and a compassionate voice to represent their problems.

    We are here since five months, are the minorities feeling insecure? We are there in Gujarat, MP and Rajasthan, and there are no issue among the minorities. There are no riots.

    This is dust gathered in your brain. You are stuck in politics that was there at the time of Partition. You better get rid of it. Our nation has moved much forward.

    My question was simple. When will Muslims come into the mainstream of BJP politics?

    We will work hard to bring everybody into the mainstream of the BJP. These are not stock answers. The BJP never thinks on the basis of religion.

    That is what your party has been thinking since its inception.

    Not at all. If we would have been thinking that way then even out of fear of getting a bad name, we would have settled the controversy by giving tickets to Muslims. We give tickets to those who are able to win the elections.

    The winnability of a candidate is the only criterion, and not his or her religion.

    Where does the issue of Hindus and Muslims come into this process?

    If we take a panoramic view of the government that was sworn in on May 26, one feels an era has dawned where the Bharatiya Janata Party is Modi and Modi is the BJP. It’s completely a one-man-show. Even you are considered his nominee.

    I don’t know what makes you think so. All political parties will have a leader at the top. Let me know under whose leadership the BJP should move forward? Of course, Narendra Modi.

    The party and the government are different and both are moving forward in harmony. But there is no dispute at all that Modi is our unanimously accepted leader.

    The party is functioning in the normal fashion. In the natural way, Narendrabhai is the leader accepted by all party workers. After two-three months you will even stop asking this question. Wait and see.

    The BJP is slowly turning into a one-man-show.

    How many men should run the show, then?

    All parties have one leader at the top who is the first among equals.

    How is the relationship between the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh?

    Very sweet (ekdum madhur). Since years the BJP and the RSS have been maintaining cordial relations and we continue having beautiful linkages even now.

    As before, the RSS is a social-cultural organisation and is not in politics.

    It is said that you are Modi's nominee and you follow his dictates.

    Not many people ask such questions anymore. Wait for a few months more and you will know how independently the party works.

    But, naturally, all BJP workers consider Modi as their leader.

    Among the public the perception has gone down, especially after the nomination of M L Khattar and Devendra Fadnavis as chief minister in Haryana and Maharashtra, that whoever is close to Modi at a personal level and who has old linkages with the RSS, will get plum postings.

    What do you want to say about Shivraj Singh Chauhan and Vasundhara Raje? And if you talk about the latest developments of Fadnavis and Khattar, I would say that they are the most natural claimants to the post.

    Modi is our top leader and he will be an inevitable part of such final decision-making processes. His influence will be there.

    What is the essence of your question? Will decisions be taken in my party on the wishes of Sonia Gandhi, then? Naturally Modi, who is our undisputed leader, will be influencing our processes. What is the issue here?

    Do you have the power to take decisions independently?

    Nobody has imposed anything on me. I take my decisions independently. Wherever I need to discuss, I definitely discuss within the party and with our leader. I do get analysis done from multiple levels and then I take my own decision.

    What is the mystery behind your strong relationship with Modi?

    That is your job to find out.

    The relationship between me and the prime minister is as normal as it should be. There is no mystery between us.

    Is the youth of India attracted only by Modi or is it endorsing the BJP’s philosophy as well?

    Modi is marching forward on the basis of the BJP’s philosophy. Obviously, if they are attracted to Modi, they are attracted to his philosophy too.

    What is the central theme that attracts the youth to the BJP these days?

    Politics of performance! In Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh etc we have made a difference. In Bihar too, when we were in government, we performed well.

    How helpful is the Modi government’s proposed changes in economic policy and governance in running your party?

    A lot of changes have not yet been done, so my comments will be a bit premature.

    But the way the government has been run so far, it’s quite on the lines of our manifesto, our principles and agenda. We have got a tremendously positive response from the people to the government’s schemes.

    But the proposed labour reforms affects the poor people…

    (Gets excited) Which aspect of the labour reforms? Why are you getting impatient?

    Rs 22,000 crore of provident fund money is stuck because salaried people shifts jobs. If the government takes a decision about it, is it not in the interest of the working class?

    When we talk of Make in India and implement a plan to provide jobs to crores of people, will it not help the workers? These actions are for the poor.

    We helped the poor open bank accounts. Does it help the poor or not? They got Rs 1.30 lakh as insurance, is it not as case of helping the poor?

    Our government is efficient and the poor will get their part of the subsidy in their bank accounts. We will work hard and we are confident about our performance.

    We have got the mandate and we will get a stronger mandate the second time. This mandate has been not just from the middle class, but even from the tribals and the poor.

    Why did the government deregularise diesel?

    It will help reduce the price.

    Yes, but only for now, because the international crude price is low. From now on it’s left to the market forces, so the price may increase as well as there are now international linkages to the market price of diesel.

    We are confident that we will be able to control it.

    But you have left it at the mercy of the marketplace.

    If the price has been reduced, do you want to pay more?

    But what about the future, when the price goes up internationally?

    We are confident that we will be able to manage.

    But that will take time. You are pro-reform and pro-liberalisation and want to eventually merge the Indian economy with the global.

    First of all, please understand that the BJP government is not associated with any of these terminologies. The policies are made, always, on the basis of the requirements of time and for a solution of the problem. These words will not be in any book, but without this wisdom the BJP can’t function.

    Like, if the World Trade Organisation says don’t buy grains from your farmers at minimum support price, then we will just not agree with them. It’s the requirement of the country to have an MSP regime. But that does not make us anti-reforms, as well.

    We deregularised diesel prices because it’s the requirement of the country. That step, in your eye, is pro-reform.

    You can’t bracket us in any terminology. We make policy and we will take decisions that our country wants.

    But basically are you pro-reforms?

    Why do you want to remain trapped in words? For us all issues are different in nature.

    I will ask you a question now. We didn’t sign the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement. Was that decision anti-reform or pro-reform?


    We deregularised diesel. What is it?


    Now tell me, is the Modi government pro-reform or anti-reform?

    It’s a debatable subject…

    (Intervenes) We are pro-India. Don’t get trapped in Western definitions. There is nothing inflexible about pro-reform or anti-reform. Irrespective of economic theories we will take decisions in the larger interest of the poor people. I can give you five more examples to prove the point.

    These pro-reform and anti-reform fixed definitions are mean. No government in any country can run on static definitions of economic thinking. The (last) government tried to run in an inflexible way, that’s why a mess was created.

    There are some early signs to show that in some respects the National Democratic Alliance behaves like the United Progressive Alliance.

    Like? Does our prime minister keep mum? Does our prime minister have a boss? Does our prime minister refuse to let the Indian Army fire at the border? Is our prime minister short-selling the rights of Indian farmers in the international market?

    What is it that matches with the Congress government?

    Is your government right-wing?

    Define your definition of right-wing after reviewing all our decisions in 2019!

    Like, when you make former chief justice P Sathasivam the governor of Kerala, it weakens the institution.

    There have been instances before where judges were made governors.

    We also suspect that the “threat” of Central Bureau of Investigation was held out to get the Dera Sacha Sauda support you in the Haryana assembly election.

    You don’t have any information. The case against him is in the court and the CBI has no role to play now.

    You told the Times of India recently that the coalition era would end.

    No, I didn’t say so. I told them that the coalition era began because India didn’t have a leader who was accepted by all. Now the country has such a leader but we are still not against coalitions on the basis of ideology.


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    maomao likes this.
  3. sorcerer

    sorcerer Senior Member Senior Member

    Apr 13, 2013
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    I wish and hope the political parties in India, groom able men and women to be succesful national leaders.
    I wish and hope the dynasty politics is never allowed to grow again in this land and only the deserved and the seasoned gets to become national leaders.
  4. maomao

    maomao Veteran Hunter of Maleecha Senior Member

    Apr 7, 2010
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    A True Hindu Leader!
  5. Ashutosh Lokhande

    Ashutosh Lokhande Senior Member Senior Member

    May 28, 2014
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    Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, India
    he came of as a secular pro india leader.
  6. maomao

    maomao Veteran Hunter of Maleecha Senior Member

    Apr 7, 2010
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    Yeah, he is as secular as Sonia Maino!
  7. Android

    Android Regular Member

    Nov 3, 2014
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    This was epic...
    sorcerer likes this.

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