NEW DELHI :
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) general secretary P. Muralidhar Rao says the federal front is only an academic exercise and the idea could not take off. In an interview with Mint, he also says that the most important target for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is to win the Lok Sabha polls. Edited excerpts:
What are the main issues in the elections, especially in the southern part of the country?
In the last four years, we started focusing on southern India. We have not changed our perspective but we have given new dimensions for our southward campaign and more nuanced approach in tune with the diversity in the South. Keeping the well-developed culture and political history, we have taken Hindutva in tune with this ethnic and southern diversity. There is no conflict between Hindutva and the various state identities. This has given us a new space and strength. With the kind of vacuum created in the south in the last few years, BJP will become a major force.
Now that elections in southern India are over, how do you rate the performance of the BJP?
Compared with 2014, our presence and strength may change from state to state but overall, BJP and NDA will be able to repeat the 2014 performance. In Karnataka, we will be adding to our present tally, and the NDA will have good performance in Tamil Nadu and our vote strength will significantly improve in entire South, particularly in Kerala.
There are 130 Lok Sabha seats in five southern states and BJP had only won 21 seats. What has the party done to improve its electoral performance this time?
BJP is conscious of the regionalization of southern politics in the past 50 years, particularly in the last three decades. Congress has disappeared from almost entire south, it has become a marginal force. Congress is facing existential crisis in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Congress is not a force in the minds of people in Tamil Nadu. It is working as a front in Kerala because of its vote bank politics.
So, in the entire south, Congress has ceased to remain as a political force. BJP is working hard to make itself acceptable and also emerge as a vibrant political force.
We are not fighting against the Congress in south but the fight is against regional parties. So, it requires a different strategy and articulation. We have strengthened our space in Karnataka. Election results will show the Congress-JDS alliance did not have an impact against BJP and we will defeat the combined strength of Congress and JDS. Sabarimala agitations and agitations against the Left have enhanced the credibility of BJP. In terms of seats and vote share, south India will be seen that the acceptability of BJP has further increased.
Telangana chief minister KCR is trying to form another anti-BJP and anti-Congress alliance, how do you look at this federal front?
All these things are speculative actions based on guess work. These issues do not have an ethical backing. If the federal front was an objective with a solid agenda for governance and for politics, then they should have come before elections, they should have gained political legitimacy through the mandate. Even if anyone wants to try anything, it cannot be before 23 May. I do not see a situation where there will be a hung Parliament, this exercise is only an academic work. He tried before elections, but the idea could not take off. I do not think a different story will unfold this time.
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