Akali Dal may be re-welcomed as younger brother: BJP
New Delhi, Nov 21: On Union Government's decision to repeal the three farm laws, the Opposition has been accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of doing so fearing loss in the polls, but with the decision, political equations in the all poll-bound states, especially Punjab, have changed.
BJP's views on the Opposition's accusations and whether the move will benefit the party in the polls, possibility of Akali Dal coming to BJP's fold and other issues were discussed with the party's general secretary and in-charge of Punjab, Chandigarh and Uttarakhand, Dushyant Gautam, in an exclusive interview with IANS.
Following are some of the excerpts.
Q: What effect will announcement of repeal of three farm laws will have on Punjab politics, especially the coalition?
A: Our stand has been very clear from the beginning. Any nationalist party can join the BJP. All such people whose statements and behaviour guard the boundary, do not harm religious beliefs and peace in the country can join the saffron party. We welcome them and all options are open for them.
Q: Your one of the oldest allies Akali Dal has left the BJP protesting against the farm laws. But as now your government has withdrawn them, will Akali Dal come back to your fold?
A: If Akali Dal initiates a proposal on these lines, the BJP's parliamentary board will take a call. We have never closed our doors. Earlier, they were in the capacity of "big brother" in the state... they could make a comeback this time in the capacity of "younger brother".
Q: In Punjab's politics in the coalition with the BJP, Akali Dal has always played role of a big brother. Do you think that Akali Dal will agree to contest the polls in the capacity of younger brother in the NDA's banner?
A: Earlier, the BJP used to contest only on 23 seats in Punjab. However, this time, the party will contest on all the 117 Assembly seats. Earlier also, we have made it clear that the BJP will fight with full strength on all the seats and strategies are being made for that.
Just tell us what we have not done for Punjab? The Congress governments ruled the state and the country for a long time, but nothing materialised -- neither they were able to get Kartarpur Corridor completed, nor could provide justice to victims of the 1984 Sikh riots.
After the formation of the Narendra Modi government in the Centre in 2014, the accused of the 84' riots were brought to book. Due to the efforts of the Modi government, Kartarpur Corridor could get completed. We have done so much for the people of Punjab and we hope that we will get their blessings.
Q: But, do you think the BJP is capable of fighting on all 117 seats alone.
A: Even though the BJP has been fighting on only 23 seats in the polls, our organisation was active even on the circle level and we have been serving people. The BJP is more of a social organisation than a political organisation. We have been standing with people through ups and downs.
If we are not able to win polls in Kerala, does that mean that we do not have organisation there. The organisation is alive in all states of the country and is an outfit which has sacrificed for the country.
Q: Announcing the formation of a new party, former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had put forth the condition of respectful solution to the Farmers protests for joining the party. As your government has announced to repeal the farm laws, when you are going to announce coalition with Amarinder's party.
A: It has to be decided by Amarinder Singh... if he approaches us, and expresses his thoughts, only then we will think over that.
Q: Your opponents have been claiming that you repealed the farm laws fearing loss in the elections...
A: We have not taken back these agri bills fearing loss in the polls, but to maintain peace in the country. We have taken the laws back with a heavy heart just to save the country from being divided.
The anti-national forces behind the farmers' movement were trying to create communal disharmony. Dalits were being murdered. Attempts were being made to give the farmers' movement a Hindu versus Sikh colour. The Tricolour was being insulted. Efforts were being made to incite the sentiments of the people of the country.
Considering that a conspiracy was being hatched to spoil the atmosphere, Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to withdraw these three laws in the interest of the country.
Q: How much benefit will the BJP draw after repealing the farm laws?
A: You are indulging in politically motivated talks but we are talking about things of national interest. For our party, the country comes first, not power. But it is also true that we are not "Congress leader Rahul Gandhi". In West Bengal Assembly polls, the Congress' seats were reduced from 44 to zero, still the Wayanad MP was "happy".
We were worried even after winning 77 seats in the polls against 3 in the previous elections, wondering over our mistakes... and why we were not able to reach out to the electorate.