interview | Nirmal Kumar Surana Puducherry

Puducherry Assembly elections 2021 | U.T. can become a model of BJP governance: Nirmal Kumar Surana

BJP in-charge for UT Nirmal Kumar Surana in a conversation with The Hindu in Puducherry on Friday.   | Photo Credit: T. Singaravelou

One of the key election strategists for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Nirmal Kumar Surana, who is in charge of Puducherry, said in an interview that the National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA) victory in the upcoming Assembly election is certain because there is a pro-Modi wave and strong anti-incumbency against the previous Congress government. Edited excerpts:

The BJP was not a major political player in Puducherry until three to four years ago. In terms of geographical or electoral size, it is relatively less significant for a national party like yours. What made the party leadership give so much importance to a place that only sends two MPs (one LS and one RS) to Parliament?

We dont look at the geographical size of a region before plunging into election work. For us, every election is important. Whether it is a gram panchayat or [municipal] corporation election, we take our work seriously.

If you recall, in the recent Hyderabad Corporation election, most of our top leaders campaigned, including Union Home Minister Amit Shah. In particular, for Puducherry, we sensed that there is tremendous scope for us to grow. Since it is a small Union Territory, we could make it another model State [Union Territory] of the BJP on governance and a project for our further growth.

Your political opponents say the BJP’s ambitions stem from the Centre’s authority to appoint three party members as nominated legislators. In fact, critics say the BJP is the only party that has got three assured seats in the Puducherry Assembly. How would you respond?

The anger against the previous Congress government is such that we will not be needing the support of nominated legislators to prove our strength in the Assembly. The Congress is going to be wiped out and we will be getting anywhere between 20 and 28 seats.

The Congress party has alleged that the BJP used Central agencies and money-power to topple its government... It is the strategy of former Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy to divert attention from his own failures. He failed to deliver on election promises and his own legislators were worried about their future in the party. They quit because they wanted their home State to get developed.

In fact, till recently, their alliance partner, the DMK, was maintaining a distance from the Congress. Could the former Chief Minister explain why the DMK did not participate in the recent agitations led by the Congress? He cannot blame us for the resignations of his own people.

What is your party’s vision for Puducherry?

Our Prime Minister has already outlined the vision of making the Union Territory the ‘BEST’ (business hub, education hub, spiritual hub and tourism hub). Puducherry has huge potential for spiritual and entertainment tourism. Water sports and theme parks could be developed.

Puducherry is almost the size of Goa. In Goa, around 30 flights land and take off daily. Imagine the number of tourists that flock to that place. Tourism will be one area that could provide thousands of unemployed youth direct employment and revive economic activity. A lot could be done in the education sector, which will also contribute to economic growth. Addressing unemployment will be our main agenda.

All India N.R. Congress chief N. Rangasamy has been appointed the head of the NDA here. Naturally, he will be leading the election campaign. Does that mean that he will be the Chief Ministerial face?

There is no confusion regarding the Chief Minister’s post. Mr. Rangasamy is highly respected and an experienced politician. He will be leading our alliance. But the BJP does not practise the policy of announcing the Chief Ministerial candidate of the National Democratic Alliance before the election. The Chief Minister will be decided by the legislature party.

What will be the role of former Minister A. Namassivayam?

Of course, he is our leader in Puducherry. He believes that Puducherry could be developed if the same parties rule at the Union Territory and at the Centre. We will certainly use his political and administrative experience.

You have been considered the man behind the ‘Operation Lotus’ strategy in Puducherry. There are reports that a large number of party workers from Karnataka are camping here for the last three months.

I am an ordinary worker. Since I was appointed as the in-charge for the UT in November, I have been camping here for the last four months along with 100 party workers, including ex-Mayors and corporation councillors from Karnataka.

Around 30 experienced hands in election work from my State were given charge of the constituencies and they are assisted by three to five persons, depending on the size of the constituencies.

We have also appointed “Page pramukhs” for certain constituencies. Their job is to be in touch with 30 to 40 voters on a regular basis, explaining [to them] the need to vote for the BJP.

The workers from Karnataka, assisted by local leaders, will be the point persons for booth-level electioneering.

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Printable version | Jun 14, 2021 9:18:45 AM |

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