Defence Minister Rajnath Singh says BJP not in panic in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan

Fielding more than a dozen MPs for Assembly elections in the two States is not a sign of panic, and the party is attempting to form governments with a clear majority in those States, says Defence Minister

October 18, 2023 09:18 pm | Updated October 19, 2023 11:37 am IST

Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. File.

Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. File. | Photo Credit: K. Murali Kumar

On the campaign trail in Telangana, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh speaks to The Hindu on the upcoming polls and why he thinks India won’t see aIsrael-Hamas like conflict. Here are some excerpts:

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has said that his party will win in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Telangana. How do you view the prospects of the BJP in these Assembly polls?

I don’t want to comment on what Rahul Gandhi is saying, that is his assessment or maybe he is saying it for public consumption. BJP is the biggest national party of the country and our attempt is to make a government with the clear majority in both States.

But BJP fielding more than a dozen members of Parliament in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan is being looked at as a “panic reaction” over poll prospects.

We cannot term it the party’s panic. It is a unique characteristic of this party that all cadre are ready to fall in with the party’s plans whatever position they occupy. The party should be successful, not just to enjoy power, but so that we form the government, to build up society and the country. When that is one’s goal, these movements can be explained.

Does this also entail the sidelining of leaders like Shivraj Singh Chauhan and Vasundhara Raje as is happening in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, despite both being Chief Ministers in the past and present.

Vasundhara ji is a stalwart of Rajasthan, and she will complete whatever the task given to her by the party and I have no doubt that she will work towards the party’s victory. As for being chief ministers in the past or even in the present, even I have been Chief Minister in the past [Uttar Pradesh, October 2000- March 2002]. But I was told to work in the party, so I became general secretary, then the party made me BJP president twice, then Home Minister and now Defence Minister. In our party, positions can change.

What can explain the change in the position for former Telangana State president Bandi Sanjay from that post to national general secretary?

Current State unit president G. Kishen Reddy is also an experienced person as is Bandi Sanjay. Who knows, Bandi Sanjay may be asked to fight the Assembly polls? The party must have thought that Kishen Reddy be given the responsibility of the organisation so that Bandi Sanjay can fight the Assembly polls, concentrate on winning his seat?

The conflict between Israel and Hamas has taken the world by storm, and raised questions on what is our own preparedness in the face of terror attacks.

In India this kind of attack will not take place, it will be difficult to carry out as our social harmony is our biggest defence. Whether people belong to any caste, creed, religion, there is an overarching sense of belonging in our country. We must of course be alert against terror attacks and terrorism must be combated and the world must get together to do so. At the same time, innocent people should not be caught in the middle of all this.

What is your view about the Bihar government’s caste survey and calls by the Opposition for a nation-wide caste census.

As far as our government is concerned, we are totally committed to the socio-economic empowerment of all sections of society, without any discrimination based on caste, creed or religion. Our schemes are aimed at the poor across the board. As far as the Bihar survey is concerned I want to see what the State government does in terms of welfare following this. More to the point many questions are being raised on the methodology, authenticity of the survey. And I believe that the findings of that survey need to be verified as well. I believe that we must be concerned that no section of society be left out of the government’s outreach of socio-economic empowerment.

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