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There's not even a tiny taint on my kurta: Amit Shah

Last updated on: December 19, 2012 17:52 IST

'There's not even a tiny taint on my kurta'

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Amit Shah, the prodigal leader of Gujarat and the man who knows Narendra Modi like no one else, shares some interesting insights with Rediff.com's Sheela Bhatt.

There is no one like Amit Shah in Gujarat politics today.

The executioner of Narendra Modi's political ideas, a cunning political planner and a man with a petrifying clarity of vision is an invaluable deputy for any neta.

Once, he virtually controlled the Gujarat administration as the minister of state for home, till the Sohrabuddin encounter case hit him hard.

In the last two years, Shah has traversed legal minefields and even been imprisoned for a while, but he is still not quite down.

He is the Bharatiya Janata Party's candidate from Ahmedabad's middle-class area of Narianpura. At any given time, his election camp's office had thousands of people extending their support to him.

Shah is likely to win the seat in spite of the taint of the Sohrabuddin encounter case. He is an undiluted politician, capable of taking decisions ruthlessly, unlike his party's arm-chair politicians in New Delhi.

Shah will never play behind-the-curtain games with the Congress.

When you tell him that he is arrogant, he quickly retorts, "Don't misjudge my self-confidence."

Shah plays politics without any mercy for his rivals. For him, the demarcation between friends and enemies is clear. Like Modi, Shah often ridicules the media. Both men like to follow the example of Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati who keeps the media in its place.

Modi, a man of many shades and massive ambitions, could not have found a better political colleague to help implement his ideas. Shah, acutely aware of the limitations of his baniya caste and of his limited public profile, never exceeds Modi's brief.

When Shah speaks, one can instantly feel that 'here is Modi's vision'.

In an exclusive interview with Rediff.com's Sheela Bhatt, the man who knows Modi like no one else aggressively states his party's position.

Gujarat's voters, he declares, will not allow caste-based votes to prevail over Narendra Modi.

Please click NEXT to read this exclusive and fascinating interview...


Image: Former Gujarat minister of state for home Amit Shah
Photographs: Uttam Ghosh / Rediff.com

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'Congress has deteriorated more than ever'

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What are the main issues in the Gujarat election?

The main issue was the challenge that the Congress poses to Narendra Modi's leadership. Along with that, external forces had made this election a vehicle to test the potency of Modi's leadership in the national perspective.

The mandate in Gujarat will be given on two issues. One, the mandate will be given about the 11 years of Modi's rule in Gujarat.

Also, the mandate includes, automatically, the issue of Modi's role on the national stage.

I believe there is a tremendous wave in the BJP's favour. We will win a more than two-thirds majority in the assembly.

You are a veteran of many elections. Do you want to say the Congress has not revived in Gujarat?

The question of the Congress's revival does not arise. Any political party's revival happens when its grassroots-level machinery and mechanism improve.

The Congress, which created an illusion with the help of propaganda, started believing it would change the minds of voters and create new opinion. But they were pitted against the BJP's solid ground work.

You can't carry on by merely offering hope.

The idea can work only, if on its side, there is a strong leadership present. On our side, we have robust performance and Modi's firm leadership.

We have before us the united face of the party that has given a stable government for the last 11 years.

The Congress doesn't have an answer to these three things. They didn't project any leader. By indulging in propaganda, they tried to create public opinion.

At the booth level, at the taluka level and at the state level, the Congress has deteriorated more than before.

How do you interpret the higher turn-out of voters?

There was bogus propaganda saying that there is anti-incumbency against the government, that in this election Modi is in trouble, that a third force is emerging in Gujarat, that for the first time, casteism will find its roots in popular politics.

Gujaratis have given a befitting reply to debunk these arguments by voting for the BJP.

Secondly, a higher voter turn-out is because of the cleansing of the voters list. After 20 years, for the first time due to the delimitation exercise, the entire voters list has been made afresh.

Until now, some 10 to 15 per cent voters were bogus voters who never existed. There were names of voters (on the voters list) who had shifted out of the area or who had died. Their names continued to be on the voters list. They were ghost voters.

Due to this, when compared to the number of names on the voters list, the number of actial voters seemed much less.

Now, the voter turn-out is looking impressive because the voters list has been spruced up.

Please click NEXT to read this exclusive and fascinating interview...


Image: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi cheered on by his supporters
Photographs: Reuters
Tags: Modi , Congress , BJP , Gujarat

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'Gujarati voters don't want caste-based politics'

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In Saurashtra I discovered the Leuva Patel community is against the BJP. I saw a clear division in Kolis and Ahirs.

And I can vouch that government officers are very dissatisfied with Modi.

There is the emotional appeal by Gujarat Parivartan Party chief Keshubhai Patel in rural areas where Leuvas are a dominant force. Do you dismiss my contention?

I don't think all government servants are against us. Always, a section of government officers is displeased with the ruling party. It is not a new phenomenon.

In Gujarat, elections are so free and fair that a government servant's role in it is very, very, limited, only to his/her own vote.

Unlike Uttar Pradesh or eastern India, where government servants play a different role, in Gujarat, on election day, they are simply voters who can cast one vote.

In the Leuva Patel community, an opinion has been built up. Amongst Leuva Patels, when one tries to provoke casteism, the leader initially gets a response. But the question is: Can democracy's internal strength overcome the trend of casteism?

I am of the firm opinion that whatever appeal casteism has created in Saurashtra will be overtaken by the internal strength of democracy in Gujarat and casteism will be, surely, routed out of the region.

You are looking at the election from a different perspective. You think that some five per cent Leuva Patels may have been displeased with us, or they may have sympathy for Keshubhai, so that would impact the result.

But there is a huge voter's bloc in Gujarat which is against voting on caste lines.

It seems you haven't done an analysis of those voters, otherwise you would not have posed this question to me.

There is a massive section of Gujarati voters which doesn't want caste-based politics to make an entry. To oppose caste-based voting, even anti-BJP voters have openly voted for the BJP!

In India there are very few states where caste doesn't play a big role. They (the voters) don't want the element of caste to enter Gujarat politics.

This means you have mobilised the anti-Patel castes in your favour.

We don't need to do mobilisation. When someone (referring to Keshubhai Patel) keeps caste in focus and forms his strategy around it, the rest of the castes get together automatically.

They are not against a particular caste, but people know that the grouping of one caste is not the sign of a healthy democracy.

Those who came out in our favour are not casteists, they are worried about democracy.

Please click NEXT to read this exclusive and fascinating interview...


Image: Gujarat Parivartan Party chief Keshubhai Patel arrives to cast his vote
Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com

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'Hindu voters are with us'

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You are essentially a man of organisation. Tell me, what was the message you gave your cadres to spread amongst the voters?

We told our cadres that there is no way one can compare the leadership quality of the BJP and the Congress in Gujarat.

The BJP has projected the leadership of Narendra Modi. The Congress has been unable to present any leader.

Secondly, Modi is the name that has been endorsed, almost, by all at an all-India level. For the last 11 years, development has reached every nook and corner of Gujarat. The communities that needed development have received it.

Gujarat has been free of riots. There are no curfews and Gujarat is safe.

People like us, who are outsiders, find the BJP is not using the Hindutva card.

The BJP has never used the Hindutva card.

Those who abuse the BJP have pushed Hindus into our arms in the past. The sympathies of Hindus have come in our favour. Now, they (the secular activists) have understood this so they have stopped abusing us (laughs).

So you are not seeing any kind of consolidation of Hindus, but the Hindu voters are with us.

I meant the emotion pertaining to Hindutva cannot be seen amongst voters.

Hindus never ever get united without provocation. This community is such that unless you provoke them, it is difficult to unite them.

Since there is no provocation by the seculars, the Hindus of Gujarat are voting for the BJP like normal citizens.

How do you see your candidature? When voters enter the polling booth to vote, will s/he not think that her/his candidate is a man who has been to jail?

Definitely, s/he will think so. At the same time, s/he will think that my candidate had gone to jail due to political victimisation. S/he will surely think that whoever has used politics should be penalised.

During the Emergency, lots of fake cases were filed against lots of people. Were those people anti-national?

This is in the DNA of the Congress. It is their culture to harass Opposition leaders and book them under bogus cases.

I am against the Congress. I am in the party that is opposing the Congress. I have to suffer. There is no alternative.

Till the time (the late Andhra Pradesh chief minister) Y S Rajasekhar Reddy and his son Jaganmohan were in the Congress, they were lily-white. As soon as Jaganmohan left the Congress after opposing (Congress President) Sonia Gandhi, the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) chargesheeted him.

Till the time Mayawati doesn't support the Congress' bills in Parliament, she is accused of having disproportionate assets. But as soon as she offers her support, she turns honest.

The same is the case with (Samajwadi Party chief) Mulayam (Singh Yadav). He turns honest as soon as he extends support to the Congress.

This is a case of the misuse of the CBI. The Congress has a long-standing legacy of abusing the CBI. The Congress has started the politics of victimisation.

Please click NEXT to read this exclusive and fascinating interview...


Image: The BJP office in Rajkot
Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com

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'My voters will punish the Congress'

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When you returned with the help of a court order after your externment from Gujarat, how did you re-establish yourself?

What re-establishment? I had tremendous public support all the time. In Gujarat, wherever I have gone, I have got more sympathy than ever.

Is this over-confidence? Are your urban voters not reading newspapers? Don't they want their MLA to work for them?

Why should they vote for you if your case is still pending?

My voters have faith in me. They know the Sohrabuddin encounter case is bogus.

They also know that no matter how many bogus cases the Congress files against me, I am capable of fighting back. Their trust has always been with me and it is with me today.

I have faced allegations of extortion and what not, no allegation has left even a tiny taint on my kurta!

I will win with one of the largest majorities. My voters will punish the Congress.

Some BJP leaders claim the GPP will get nearly ten per cent of the total votes,but will win less number of seats. Will that be the case?

As far as the GPP is concerned, it is important to know whose votes they will get.

Has the BJP, the Congress or the GPP created a new voter base? These questions are hidden in the womb of time. There is no way one can do an exact analysis or prediction.

But on the whole our chances of winning are much brighter because we are holding onto our voters.

Please click NEXT to read this exclusive and fascinating interview...


Image: A Congress rally addressed by Sonia Gandhi in Keshod, Junagadh
Photographs: Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com
Tags: GPP , BJP , Congress , MLA

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'Narendra Modi is not going to Pakistan'

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What will be the long-lasting impact of this election?

It will be finally accepted that Narendra Modi is capable of providing good governance.

This election will give a fitting reply to those people who created confusion and raised questions through the media.

The Gujarat mandate will prove that Modi has the wisdom to know what people want and he has the capacity to solve their issues.

In case the BJP gets less than 117 seats, what will be the impact on Modi's position?

I don't believe we will get less than 117 seats. You won't be in a position to ask this question on December 20 (counting day). Don't waste your time and energy on it.

Some voters told us 'Why should we vote for Modi if he is leaving Gujarat for New Delhi? We don't know who will succeed him.'

Narendra Modi is not going to Pakistan! If Modi leaves Gujarat, he will do so only to take up the prime minister's post. If he becomes the PM, we will have our own person to serve Gujarat.

Gujarat's development would speed up if Modi is in New Delhi. The argument is bogus. Maybe some people think like that, but by and large Gujaratis are euphoric that their state is set to produce a national leader.

Even if we accept your argument, can you tell us what will be the political scenario in Delhi after Modi's victory?

That churning and debate would take place in party meetings. We won't let you know.

What would be the impact on the Congress in New Delhi?

I don't believe the Congress' internal calculation is any different than what we think. They have taken into account Modi's victory in Gujarat. They don't have much expectations of gaining in a big way in Gujarat.

Their leadership will fail in one more state in India. One more state would join in triggering the fall of the Congress.

There is a theory that Modi's victory in Gujarat would help the Congress in Delhi because then the polarisation in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar would be unstoppable.

Given the manner in which the Congress is trying to encircle Modi, I think this theory is baseless. Congressmen are cleverer in their understating of political intrigues than us.

I have the simple intellect to understand that if Modi is not harmful to the Congress' political interests, then they would not try to surround him. Even a common Gujarati has this level of understanding.

The fear of Modi is making them encircle Modi. The Congress is petrified about Modi.

Please click NEXT to read this exclusive and fascinating interview...


Image: Voters queue up in Gujarat
Photographs: Reuters

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'He is not winning an election for the first time. There will be no difference in him'

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Why this fear of Modi?

Because Modi is popular. He has the people's mandate. He is accepted by the people. He is a man of the masses.

This election has exposed Modi's weaknesses too. The Congress is in a phase of revival, don't you agree?

The Congress has been in the media headlines. But at the grassroots, I see no difference. Rather, it has deteriorated.

The Congress will be thrown out. Their cadre at the taluka and booth level are vanishing.

Do you think there will be tremors in Delhi if Modi wins Gandhinagar again?

Everyone, on both sides, knows that Modi is going to form the government in Gandhinagar. Delhi has already taken into account Modi's win. The curiosity is only in the minds of the media.

What will you say on December 20?

Since 1960, the winner takes it all. If we were fighting a losing battle, we would have known it.

We are experienced enough in politics to know about it. Gujarati voters will give a clear majority.

The Keshubhai factor, delimitation of constituencies and the higher voter turn-out are three crucial factors, right?

All three factors will favour us. I told you Keshubhai tried to play with casteism. Due to that, people who were not voters of the BJP also voted for us.

Delimitation has gifted us more urban seats so it has been in our favour.

What is Modi's mood like?

How will you assess a person who is holding nine public meetings every day?

He is not winning an election for the first time. There will be no difference in him. He has won many elections before.

All elections are difficult.

All elections spring up new equations.

All elections require new strategies.

All elections have the single-point agenda of winning public support.

The BJP will win its fifth election as well.

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Image: Narendra Modi addresses his supporters via 3-D


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