BJP president Amit Shah on Wednesday ruled out any post poll alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) or any other party in the event of a hung Assembly in Uttar Pradesh and exuded confidence that the party will get a “full majority”.
As U.P. gears for the fourth phase of the seven-phase Assembly elections on Thursday, Mr. Shah, 52, also said that the BJP not naming a chief ministerial candidate was part of the party’s poll “strategy”.
In a wide-ranging interview to PTI, when asked if the BJP would be willing to ally with the BSP or any other party to form a government if it fell short of a majority, he said “ Kisi se bhi haath milane ka dur-dur tak koi swaal nahin uthatha [there is no question by far of joining hands with any party],”
The comments by Mr. Shah come against the backdrop of a few poll surveys and political experts projecting a hung Assembly in U.P., given that all the three players — the SP-Congress, the BSP and the BJP — have a robust set-up and a loyal social base in the State.
Mr. Shah, who had campaigned extensively in the State, acknowledged the importance of the poll outcome in the State on the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, but at the same time felt that the results would be even more crucial for the country’s development.
Mr. Shah, who is working hard to recreate the magic of 2014 — the BJP won 71 out of the 80 Lok Sabha seats — in the face of stiff competition from the SP-Congress alliance and Mayawati’s BSP, expressed the confidence that his party will form the next government in U.P., Uttarakhand and Goa with “full majority”, but was unwilling to make a prediction about Punjab, noting that it was a triangular contest there involving the SAD-BJP, the Congress and the AAP.
“In Goa, Uttarakhand and U.P., we will form governments with full majority. It is trikoniay muqablaa hai [triangular contest] in Punjab, so it is difficult to make a guess who will win,” he noted.
Mr. Shah replied in the negative when asked whether the BJP saw a disadvantage in not naming a chief ministerial face in U.P. when the last-minute SP-Congress alliance had named the incumbent Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, while Ms. Mayawati was the BSP’s clear choice.
He said, not naming a CM candidate was the party’s “strategy”.
He refused to get into specifics of whether a central leader like Home Minister Rajnath Singh or any of the State leaders will be chosen to be the chief minister if the party wins. He restricted himself to stating that the choice would be made by the elected MLAs and the BJP parliamentary board.
Mr. Shah rejected the Congress’ charge that the Prime Minister had sought to inject communal colour into the campaign a few days ago by talking about allocation of State land for ‘shamshaan’ (cremation ground) and ‘kabristaan’ (graveyard).
“Critics and media both should see the data”, he said, claiming that ₹1,200 crore was spent in U.P. on graveyards while only half that amount was given for cremation grounds despite a population ratio of 80-20 (between Hindus and Muslims).
The BJP chief accused the party’s political opponents of indulging in “politics of appeasement.” He said the BJP was called communal for raising such issues.
“They [he SP] are communal by indulging in politics of appeasement. Why this issue is not raised in Gujarat [where there is no such discrimination]. Absolutely, they have a communal attitude in their policies,” he said and added that when the BJP raised the issue then it is called communal.
Asked if the outcome of the current elections would be a referendum on demonetisation, which caused hardship to people, Mr. Shah said, “If media or the Opposition wants to treat U.P. outcome as a referendum on the demonetisation decision, then the BJP has no objection, we will welcome that.”
“There are many issues in Uttar Pradesh. Demonetisation was not a decision of the U.P. government. It is the Central government’s decision,” he said.
Talking about funding of political parties, he indicated that the BJP was working on a “roadmap” to accept financial contributions only by cheque and digital transaction, by June.
On demands that political parties be subject to the RTI, Mr. Shah said only the financial funding of any political party should come under the ambit of RTI and not other details like number of cars etc.
On who is the BJP’s main opponent — the BSP or the SP?, Mr. Shah said, “In first two phases, we had competition with the BSP and in third, it was with the SP. These parties may put up competition in selected seats, but the BJP has strong presence in all the constituencies.”
Mr. Shah said the party would clinch 130 seats out of the 209 constituencies that which went to the polls in the first three phases.
“On March 11 at 1 p.m. in U.P. you will see a [BJP] government [in U.P.]… After the three phases, I am looking at more than 130 seats,” he said when asked about the feedback he has received on the polling pattern so far.