Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, who was in Kerala to campaign for the NDA, addresses The Indian Express at Thiruvananthapuram.
The BJP has high stakes in West Bengal and Assam and you campaigned there. There seems to be a close struggle in West Bengal.
Yes, there is a neck and neck fight in Bengal. But we are winning. Our target is 200 seats. Let others make a claim, the BJP will. In Assam, there is no major challenge for the BJP, so we will return to power there.
What about the prospects for BJP in Kerala and Tamil Nadu?
Our vote share in Kerala is good now. And in this election our votes will go up and we’re expected to get a good number of seats here. In Tamil Nadu, the NDA government will be formed, along with AIADMK.
In Kerala, the BJP has tried to build a supportive social coalition, but has not been able to do so so far. You also cannot assemble a strong political combination. What is the reason?
We will do it gradually. So far it has been the LDF and the UDF in Kerala, these fronts coming to power alternately. But now, with its good governance at the Center, the BJP has established a good track record. People see the fact that states led by the BJP have good governance. There are no major accusations of corruption against BJP governments, even the government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The BJP has become synonymous with orderly and clean government. People started to think that only BJP can provide it. It will also help the party to gain the trust of the people of Kerala.
But Kerala’s demographics are such that no party can win the state without the support of a combination of communities …
No, no… the BJP does not want to make politics on any particular religion or community. We want to take everyone.
But don’t you think minorities don’t trust BJP?
See, it’s because the LDF and UDF are trying to polarize minorities here. But we don’t believe in the politics of polarization. Ours is the policy of the common masses.
Do you think incidents like the harassment of nuns in Uttar Pradesh will hurt BJP?
The Union government will ensure that there is strict action against the culprits. No one should be harassed. We want to see justice for all, appeasement of no one.
When the BJP brought up the Sabarimala issue, the party received support, but you were unable to translate it into electoral support. What is the party’s position now?
We will bring in legislation to protect Sabarimala’s practices.
The Supreme Court criticized gender bias in the armed forces. He considered that the army’s evaluation criteria for granting a permanent commission to short-term female officers were systematically discriminatory against them.
There will be no form of discrimination in the forces. We will review the submission made by the tribunal and take it into account. There should be no discrimination based on sex.
Pangong Tso’s disengagement with China was announced over a month ago. But things did not get past the initial disengagement. What’s the status now?
Discussions are ongoing. Hotline messages have passed from our end to them and they should respond now. We are awaiting their response. Discussions on each issue are ongoing with them. There is no time limit.