‘When the Congress party collapses, we will be the biggest beneficiary’
Courtesy : Times of India
Leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, an important troubleshooter for BJP, tells Arati R Jerath that the party is not facing any leadership crisis and is more than ready for a new role
Why was the BJP at sixes and sevens about its strategy for the presidential poll, considering its importance in setting the tone for the 2014 Lok Sabha election?
I don’t think the BJP is in any doubt about its strategy. It took us time to choose our candidate for president because, besides our NDA colleagues, we wanted to consult other non-Congress regional groups. The Congress has shown a remarkable ability to manipulate the political class and through various tactics they managed to get some non-Congress groups to support their candidate for president. But this will not in any way affect our strategy for 2014. The Congress is getting alienated from the people, as is evident from the results of recent elections across the country. We occupy the largest non-Congress space in the heartland of the country. When the Congress collapses, we will be the largest beneficiary.
You lost two key allies in the presidential election. Isn’t that a gain for the Congress?
It’s a good question but it should really be addressed to those allies. I only wish they had supported the larger opposition candidate, P A Sangma. The UPA is a failed coalition and UPA-2 has a bad track record of governance. It doesn’t make political sense to me that anyone opposed to the UPA should support its candidate for president.
There is a perception that the BJP is as reluctant to face elections as the Congress. Is the main opposition party scared of a mid-term poll?
We are prepared for a poll at any time. But we don’t dictate the timing; the arithmetic in the Lok Sabha does. As long as the Congress has the ability to manipulate two important non-Congress parties, the SP and the BSP, it can maintain the necessary number in Parliament. The leaders of both these parties had very important investigations against them. The Congress’s ability to manipulate them is based on the simple premise that the corrupt are vulnerable. The honest are more defiant. That is why the Congress finds the Trinamool Congress difficult.
After what happened at your Mumbai convention, it appears that Narendra Modi will be your prime ministerial candidate in 2014.
We will decide our prime ministerial candidate at the appropriate time. Modi has a good track record of governance and therefore his name is mentioned frequently. It’s for the BJP and the NDA to decide their candidate.
Are you a contender?
I don’t regard myself as anything more than a BJP worker.
Do you agree with L K Advani that people are disappointed with the BJP, as he wrote in his blog?
I don’t think people are disappointed with the BJP. What is a matter of concern, however, is that people want to throw out the Congress and see an effective alternative. The BJP can effectively anchor an alternative alliance. But we need to advance in two important areas. The first is we need to expand the NDA. Secondly, at an appropriate time, whoever is the first among equals in the NDA to lead the alliance will have to be decided by us.
Why is a disciplined party like the BJP gripped by so much infighting and dissidence reminiscent of the Congress? Too many aspirants for the PM’s post?
The basic premise is incorrect. We are a structured party with a galaxy of emerging leaders. There can be a legitimate question about who will be our eventual leader. In democratic parties in countries like the US you have systems by which leaders are elected. In India, in structured parties like ours, it happens on the strength of experience and internal decisions. Unless we are able to overcome this myth of a dynasty alone producing leaders, the real worth of Indian democracy will not be realized.