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The Sundar Singh Bhandari Chat

Bharatiya Janata Party ideologue Sundar Singh Bhandari was frank and forthright without being abrasive... At least most of the time. He justified the BJP's deals with allegedly corrupt and criminal groups, even claiming the BJP had no hesitation in seat adjustments with any party in this country. Would you miss this one?

Mr Sundar Singh Bhandari (Tue Feb 24 1998 8:4 IST)
Hello friends I am here, ready to answer your questions. I will take them one by one.

Vijeta (Tue Feb 24 1998 7:25 IST)
Hello MR BHANDARI: Sir don't you agree that Romesh Bhandari's move did more GOOD to the BJP than bad?

Mr Sundar Singh Bhandari (Tue Feb 24 1998 8:6 IST)
Vijeta: The more Mr. Bhandari commits mistakes the advantage is going to be for BJP, because as a governor, unfortunately, he has adopted a partisan attitude and a bias against the BJP.

Mark Talyor (Tue Feb 24 1998 7:33 IST)
Mr Bhandari: Will the RSS be REALLY suing Mr Kesri for alleging that the RSS was involved in the Coimbatore bomb blasts?

Mr Sundar Singh Bhandari (Tue Feb 24 1998 8:7 IST)
Taylor: As far as my knowledge goes, the RSS has already filed a criminal suit against Kesri and they will be taking it up seriously.

Krishna (Tue Feb 24 1998 8:12 IST)
Mr. Bhandari, while BJP is as middle-of-the -road and moderatist in economics and welfare policy as all mainstream parties, there are parochial elements who cling to the ancient past and who make it seem less "modern" compared to the Chidambarams or Sitaram Yechurys of the world. A feeling that the above sixtytwo overwhelmingly run the party with little of the "new and now" generation to give us company in the new century...

Mr Sundar Singh Bhandari (Tue Feb 24 1998 8:12 IST)
Krishna: The economic policies of BJP are primarily in the country's interest and is based on the real problems that people at large face. We have a very big chunk of people who are unemployed and of social diversities of different nature. The BJP thinks that the industrialisation of the country primarily takes into consideration the unemployed people of the land and the natural resources of this country.

India is also primarily an agricultural country and so a vast majority of this country lives in villages. The prime concern of the party is to provide them additional employment in their own villages when they are not employed in agriculture Otherwise, there will be a big migration to the cities where problems like slums and pollution will develop.

The BJP would like to provide the latest technological advance to the villages and the small-scale industries which are going to be the basic forum for providing social and economic benefits to the largest section of this country.

MANISH DIWAN (Tue Feb 24 1998 7:46 IST)
Mr Bhandari: Was your party--the BJP-morally justified in propping up the Kalyan Singh government with defectors and criminals-turned MLAs? Isn't the BJP to be held responsible for resorting to backrooms means to come to power at any cost in Uttar Pradesh? Please answer.

Mr Sundar Singh Bhandari (Tue Feb 24 1998 8:24 IST)
Manish Diwan: This time, after the assembly elections, no single party had an absolute majority in the UP assembly. The BJP was the largest single party there. But the smaller groups also were not prepared for a coalition with the BJP. So the matter lingered on for four months.

After that an arrangement was arrived at with BSP to form a coalition on a formula that the BSP leader would take charge of the chief minister's post for six months after which the chief minister's post would go to the BJP nominee.

It was also agreed that irrespective of the party's strength in the assembly, both coalition partners would have an equal number of ministers. This arrangement worked well for the first six months; thereafter BJP nominee Kalyan Singh assumed the post.

Suddenly the BSP withdrew the support and the governor of UP gave the BJP only 24 hour's time to establish our majority support in the House. Incidentally, in this short period, both the Congress party, the BSP and the Janata Dal in the UP legislature split. The breakaway groups got recognition from the speaker and they decided to support the BJP. With their help, in the short period of 24 hours, the BJP got a confidence vote passed in the assembly.

So this is a coalition of different parties in the assembly and it was a political necessity for the BJP. We did not go into the individual merits of legislators of the various groups that supported the BJP. All of a sudden the breakaway group of the Congress known as the Loktantrik Congress and the breakaway group of the Janata Dal declared before the Governor that they have stopped supporting the Kalyan Singh government.

On being informed by the governor, Chief Minister Mr Kalyan Singh said the figures given to the governor were not correct and that he still commanded a majority and was prepared to prove it on the floor of the House. The governor, rather than giving the opportunity, dismissed the Kalyan Singh government and administered the oath of office to a Loktantrik Congress nominee.

The party went to the Allahabad high court and challenged the governor's order without giving the Kalyan Singh government a chance to prove its majority. The high court upheld the BJP's objection and declared the dismissal void and ordered for a status quo ante. And so, within 40 hours, Mr Kalyan Singh again took charge as chief minister.

Sandesa (Tue Feb 24 1998 8:18 IST)
Mr.Bhandari >>I am not sure if allying with AIADMK was a wise one. One ... it has brought down the party image. Two ... It may not actually be so rewarding, as pre-poll predictions show that this alliance might get only about 4-5 seats. Die hard BJP fans like me are finding it difficult to answer that one. Ur comments ?

Mr Sundar Singh Bhandari (Tue Feb 24 1998 8:27 IST)
Sandesa: The main reason for arriving at a seat adjustment with the AIADMK was that we wanted to make a breakthrough in the southern part of the country. And the AIADMK accepted seat adjustment with the BJP. Seat adjustments in no way seal each other parties approval; it is an attempt to avoid division of votes and to help win seats. So the BJP has no hesitation in having seat adjustments with any party in this country.

Manish (Tue Feb 24 1998 8:13 IST)
Mr Bhandari, as the Supreme Court has set up Feb 26th as the date for trial of strength, Will Kalyan again take support from Naresh Agarwal, Raja Ram & company

Mr Sundar Singh Bhandari (Tue Feb 24 1998 8:29 IST)
Manish: Those who have admitted their mistake and explained the circumstances under which they were a party to the drama of 21st February and expressed the willingness to support the Kalyan Singh government... We would be happy to have their support. And according to the figures we have, we are sure to win a confidence vote on Feb 26.

ASHWIN (Tue Feb 24 1998 8:24 IST)
Don't u think that THE SONIA FACTOR will cost a lot for BJP.

Mr Sundar Singh Bhandari (Tue Feb 24 1998 8:32 IST)
Ashwin: the point is that Sonia was nowhere directly part of the elections. She came very late to help the Congress, which is a fast disintegrating party. The crowds in her meetings have been manipulated. But there is no machinery in the Congress to follow the climate created by Mrs. Sonia. In the two rounds of elections that have taken place, nowhere has the Congress been able to muster popular support.

Sandesa (Tue Feb 24 1998 8:31 IST)
Mr. Bhandari ... how many seats from Uttar Pradesh , Bihar n MP ? Pliz answer this one

Mr Sundar Singh Bhandari (Tue Feb 24 1998 8:33 IST)
Sandesa: Last time we had 52 seats from UP. This time we intend to cross 65. In MP we had 28 seats we hope to reach 30. And in Bihar we had 18 seats. There we will cross 20.

chanak (Tue Feb 24 1998 8:31 IST)
Mr. Bhandari >> Do you believe that that your campaign strategy was flawed by not coming out and attacking Sonia Gandhi. All she has said in her campaign tour is "My husband's sacrifice, and my family this and my family that."

Should the BJP not have come out and said, "Fine, your husband this and that" but what do you bring to the table? What credentials do YOU have? Why should the people vote for you or for your party? And remind that voters that even with Rajiv at the helm the country didn't go very far and that the Congress has no vision for the future.

They have no leadership and no agenda to help the majority of the nation. Why did the BJP not attack her in this manner? Comments please?

Mr Sundar Singh Bhandari (Tue Feb 24 1998 8:35 IST)
Chanak: We never thought that Sonia would be able to make an impact on the voters and so we more or less paid no attention to her. Later, we only tried to clarify the misgivings she has tried to spread among the people about BJP.

videshi (Tue Feb 24 1998 8:33 IST)
Shri Bhandari, Bofors is a cow which has stopped giving milk. Why then is the BJP leadership harping on this issue?

Mr Sundar Singh Bhandari (Tue Feb 24 1998 8:37 IST)
Videshi: I don't think that the Bofors issue is closed; it is being deliberately suppressed. For the last 10 years all the governments were deliberately pressured not to allow a fair trial on the Bofors deal. We sure that as soon as the BJP government comes to power at the Centre the case will be taken in right earnest and that the culprits will be booked.

Krishna (Tue Feb 24 1998 8:38 IST)
Happy to hear that Bofors is not a silenced gun yet. Do you believe we should carry forward some Gandhianism or Gandhian socialism along with the new wave of liberalisation to even things out, Sir ? Also, could there be Chinese-style discipline to ensure "rural barefoot doctors" etc. to improve living conditions in the villages, because private industry can't show that much initiative in communications, healthcare, etc.

Mr Sundar Singh Bhandari (Tue Feb 24 1998 8:39 IST)
Krishna: Social welfare schemes should be taken up by the government. Health care, housing, education have to be given priority.

guru (Tue Feb 24 1998 8:32 IST)
Mr. Bhandari> Do you think that it is possible to reopen negotiations on the GATT treaty that the BJP has been denouncing all the time?

Mr Sundar Singh Bhandari (Tue Feb 24 1998 8:40 IST)
Guru: there is every possibility and scope to reopen the discussion. We would like to modify it in the best interest of Indian industry and our country.

chanak (Tue Feb 24 1998 8:41 IST)
What will BJP's policy be towards Pakistan which continually supports terrorism in our nation. And what about Kashmir? And what about quotas?

Mr Sundar Singh Bhandari (Tue Feb 24 1998 8:42 IST)
Chanak: We would like to be friends with all our neighbours but will safeguard our own boundaries and national interests. We will see to it that the country is rid of terrorist activities and that every citizen gets justice and fair play. We will remove social disparities and create an atmosphere of social harmony.

videshi (Tue Feb 24 1998 8:31 IST)
When will BJP be able to distance itself from the Ram mandir issue?

Mr Sundar Singh Bhandari (Tue Feb 24 1998 8:44 IST)
Videshi: We are that way not very much involved in the Ram Mandir issue. We only want the political hurdles to be removed. As soon as we get power at the centre we would try that the land of Ram Mandir is deacquisitioned and handed over to the temple construction committee. That is all that we are concerned with.

videshi (Tue Feb 24 1998 8:39 IST)
Retire all old foggies from BJP, separate RSS else it will be counterproductive, challenge Sonia on her role as a politician rather than Bofors, bring some new ideas and blood in BJP to fecilitate forward looking leadership...

Mr Sundar Singh Bhandari (Tue Feb 24 1998 8:47 IST)
Videshi: Sonia is no factor in Indian politics, and why should we bother more about her. I don't know where she will be after the elections. The RSS and BJP are two different autonomous and independent organisations. RSS is working for cultural Hindu revival while BJP is a national political party.

videshi (Tue Feb 24 1998 8:49 IST)
Shri Bhandari, The world is moving at fast speed, Image is as important as substance, If BJP suffers it will be because of image and not substance. What do you feel?

Mr Sundar Singh Bhandari (Tue Feb 24 1998 8:51 IST)
Videshi: Winning an election depends on various factors. It also depends on the way the electorate are influenced by other issues than political. As for example, caste religion or region. The political philosophy also helps a voter to support a particular party and so we are trying our best to appeal to the Indian voter to vote for the party on the basis of the election manifesto that the party has issued.

The manifesto also mentions the other political issues of immediate nature. One of the issues for the p[resent elections is a stable government at the Centre which should run for the full term under an experienced leader.

chanak (Tue Feb 24 1998 8:49 IST)
Mr. Bhandari, the fact remains that no socialist country is a world power today. Socialism does not work. And it won't work in India either. Privatisation and limiting govt involvement in commerce is the way to improve a nation. Comments please?

Mr Sundar Singh Bhandari (Tue Feb 24 1998 8:53 IST)
Chanak: BJP believes in social justice, and keeping the national interests uppermost will allow private enterprise in most fields of industrial activity. We BJP also do not propose to have state control or laws which restrict individual entrepreneurship.

Sandesa (Tue Feb 24 1998 8:45 IST)
Mr.Bhandari : Here is my forecast .. I'd like to know from where u expect more ... South -- 25, North -- 120,West -- 50 (includes MP), East -- 20.

Mr Sundar Singh Bhandari (Tue Feb 24 1998 8:56 IST)
Sandesha: Without giving a statewise break-up, I won't be able to comment on your forecast. My total for all India for BJP alone is round about 240. With the allies the tally would go beyond 275.

Mr Sundar Singh Bhandari (Tue Feb 24 1998 8:58 IST)
Thank you all for putting these questions. I have tried my best to give answers on behalf of BJP. I hope it help clarify any misgivings about the party. Thank You once again.

Questions S S Bhandari Didn't Answer