Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley on Wednesday downplayed the controversy over ticket distribution for the Lok Sabha elections, claiming that the disagreements were sometimes overstretched in the media discourse.
“On most seats, there has been no controversy. Once the campaign settles down after the withdrawal of nominations, I think we will be fairly comfortable when it comes to forming the government,” he said. His obvious reference was to senior leader Jaswant Singh’s decision to contest from Barmer as an Independent.
“There were reasons why the State [Rajasthan] unit could not agree on its assessment of his winnability and giving him [Jaswant Singh] ticket. I did not speak to him, I spoke to Manavendra [his son]. We only hope wiser counsel prevails. You don’t end relationships over such issues,” he said.
Talking to The Hindu here, Mr. Jaitley said the party would hopefully win many more seats than it has had in the past. “The gap between us and the party that comes second will also be significant. Our allies will also get a large number of seats. And, hopefully, between the BJP and allies, we will be reasonably comfortable when it comes to forming the government.”
He said the party’s vote share and seats were expected to go up significantly. “We will see a significant increase in our strength in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. There is a strong undercurrent in the northern, western and central parts of India. In Karnataka, we have recovered our strength. In Bihar, we have improved substantially. Down south and in east, our vote percentage has gone up, how many seats we get will be seen.”
He said the BJP was confident of doing well in Telangana and Seemandhra also and was in talks with the TDP for an alliance. “The BJP is stronger in Telangana, but if we have an alliance with the TDP, it will be a very formidable one in both regions and also for a large number of seats in the Lok Sabha.”
On the agenda of the BJP, which is yet to release its manifesto, Mr. Jaitley said that at times it determined itself on the basis of the situation. “In the last decade of UPA rule, it has been found lacking in several ways, mainly on the issue of governance. The issue of governance will occupy the agenda.”
If the BJP came to power, steps would be taken to rebuild the investment cycle and the confidence levels of doing business in India would be improved, he said.“AAP only a television opponent”
Dismissive of the Aam Aadmi Party, he said the contest was still between the BJP and the Congress. “The Congress does not pose a serious challenge to us. The AAP is only the television opponent of the BJP; [but] on the field, it is still the Congress.”
On the possibility of a tie-up between the BJP and the People’s Democratic Party in Jammu and Kashmir, Mr. Jaitley said: “Most political groups in the Kashmir Valley have a word of appreciation for the Vajpayee government. But ideologically, we are completely opposed to them [the PDP]. Notwithstanding that opposition, there are two dimensions on Kashmir: the external dimension, of course, will have to be settled at a different level and the internal will be guided by the principle of no concession to separatists, but we will try to improve the living conditions of our own people. We will improve the quality of their life, make it more comfortable and make it less harassing. The migrants [Pandits] have to be brought back. The alienation must end.”