The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will win 300 seats on its own strength, party general secretary Rajiv Pratap Rudy told a press conference in Patna on Monday.

“We are all set to capture 300 seats in the Lok Sabha elections on our own strength. We are certain of that. We will fulfil this aim,” he said.

Asked about its alliance partner Nitish Kumar’s view on having a “secular” prime ministerial candidate, “Mr. Kumar can have a personal stand. He respects the BJP. We want our relationship to be stronger.”

On the issue of special status for Bihar, for which Mr. Kumar has been aggressively rallying for long, Mr. Rudy said the BJP would grant this demand when it comes to power at the Centre.

“The Congress has only discriminated against the States with non-Congress governments. The Planning Commission has deemed Bihar a backward state. This is an insult. The people of Bihar are not backward, they are just deprived.”

The BJP leader said the party valued its alliance partners, the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, the Shiromani Akali Dal in Punjab and the Janata Dal (United) in Bihar.

Asked about the WikiLeaks cables on socialist labour leader George Fernandes seeking funding from the Central Intelligence Agency, Mr. Rudy said the credentials of the cables were suspect.

“George was an activist in his own right. We don’t give too much importance to WikiLeaks,” he said. When pointed out that the same cables also indicted former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Mr. Rudy remarked that India seemed to have many Italian connections, be it the Italian firm AgustaWestland (involved in the helicopter scam) or the Italian Marines issue.

Mr. Rudy said the United Progressive Alliance has become a minority government, with the desertion of two if its alliance partners – the Trinamool Congress and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK).

“The Centre is running on the crutches of the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party. After nine years, there is an anti-incumbency factor in the country. There are visible signs of the UPA cracking up. There is a leadership issue in the Congress party. The country is reeling under inflation, unemployment and poor growth despite an economist as a Prime Minister. The people have become disillusioned with the Congress,” he said.

He dismissed the idea of a Third Front.