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Priyanka will only get TRPs, not change fortune of Congress: Amit Shah

May 05, 2014 08:13 IST

Priyanka will only get TRPs, not change fortune of Congress: Amit Shah

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‘We have no problem with Priyanka campaigning for her mother and her brother in their bastions. We our fighting out battle and they are is fighting theirs."

‘No doubt, Amethi is Congress's patrimonial seat but people are looking for a change in this elections.’

‘A commission is being formed (to probe snoopgate) during elections when the government will be changed at the Centre. So, this is nothing but political vindictiveness’

Narendra Modi’s right-hand man and Bharatiya Janata Party's Uttar Pradesh in-charge Amit Shah speaks to IBN18 Network Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai about the Bharatiya Janata Party wave, the snoopgate and more. Excerpts from the interview

People say that Narendra Modi is the face of the BJP but the face behind the face is Amit Shah. Is this true?

No it’s nothing to do with the face. The BJP is a very large party and I am very small party worker. We work as a team. As far as the strategy is concerned, every state, every seat has a different strategy and on every seat party workers do their jobs.

The party has given you the biggest state, which has 80 seats. Without UP, Modi can’t become the PM, so Amit Shah is critical in this election.

Nothing to be surprised, if not me someone else would have been in-charge of Uttar Pradesh.

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Image: Priyanka Gandhi shares a meal with a local from Rae Bareli


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'We have advantage of anti-incumbency against Samajwadi Party'

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I am asking because people say that until you don’t get 50 or 55 seats in UP, Mission 272 will not complete. Hence there is a lot of responsibility on you.

It’s not like that. We are fighting the election in whole country.

But you know UP is critical...

That’s ok, I admit it is critical, and I am happy that the party has given me this opportunity.

In the 2009 election, your party won only 10 seats in UP. The 2012 assembly elections were not good for you too. Do you think that this time you will get 40 to 50 seats? What is the difference, what’s the strategy this time?

The difference is that we are getting an advantage from the political environment in the country. We are getting the same advantage in UP. Here we are also getting advantage of anti-incumbency against Samajwadi Party.

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Image: Narendra Modi and Amit Shah show the victory sing during a roadshow in Varanasi


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'We should not see the polarisation of riots as profit or loss'

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What about the Hindu vote bank?

We have worked for every vote. Who comes, who does not, is the matter of time, matter of political wave and it’s the matter of political equation. But the BJP has tried to woo every caste.

After the riots in Muzaffarnagar there was polarisation. Has the divide in the Hindu vote bank and Muslim vote bank benefited the BJP, especially in western UP?

We should not see the polarisation of riots as profit or loss. But I want to say one thing very clearly that the riots were just because of one incident. If at that time instead of playing vote bank politics had the government taken prompt action, there would have been no riots.

So you are saying that the government had indulged in the politics of vote bank. But your opposition will say you have given tickets to three people, who have FIRs against them; they have also been honoured in a public meeting. So you have chalked out a strategy in a way?

As far as the three people are concerned, they have not been proved responsible for the riots. They got bail just a day after a FIR was filed against them. And after their bail, bail was granted to a lot of people from different parties including the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress.

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Image: A displaced Muslim man offers prayers next to a relief camp in the village of Kutba at Muzaffarnagar
Photographs: Anindito Mukherjee/Reuters

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'I did not mention riots, I said seek revenge for UP's backwardness'

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But somewhere you have indicated that we (the BJP) are saviours of the Hindus. You landed in a controversy too when in a speech you told the people to seek revenge by giving vote.

Revenge for what? You didn’t hear beyond this nor was it shown (by news channels). I have said as compared to the other states in India, UP is not progressing and we have to seek revenge for this backwardness.

Here women are not safe, if you want to get rid of this, press the lotus (the BJP symbol). I have not mentioned the riots anywhere in my speech. I told the Election Commission too that whatever they will interpret, I will accept it. I have not said anything with wrong intentions.

Another allegation is that you indulge in Hindu vote bank politics and caste politics. You have given ticket to 27 OBCs. You have tied up with Apna Dal because you want kurmi votes. Do you agree this too is your strategy?

There is no question of dharam ki rajneeti. This is an agenda made by you. As far as caste politics is concerned, to encourage the backward class we decided to give them tickets and we have fielded good candidates.

There is a fear that if Amit Shah is around there will be riots.

I have been here for the last 12 months. Before I came to UP 45 riots had taken place. Also, 45 riots have taken place after I came here. Riots cannot be created by an individual, if the state government governs properly there will be no riots.

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Image: Voters queue at a polling station to cast their votes in Shabazpur Dor village, in Amroha district in UP
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

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'Varanasi result came out the day Modi filed his nomination'

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One more strategy is appointing Narendra Modi as a candidate of Varanasi. Get Modi to Varanasi so that that it impacts the entire Purvanchal region.

If Narendra bhai is our PM candidate and he fights from here it will be an advantage. Not only will UP’s growth rate be in double digits for the next 10 years but also there will be growth in UP.

The opposition says it is neck and neck fight in Varanasi. There is Arvind Kejriwal and Ajai Rai. The Congress has also given ticket to a bahubali. Any fear?

We work in multilateral democracy. Every party has a right to field a candidate and as far as Modi is concerned the result of Varanasi came out the day he filed his nominations.

Is that overconfidence? You have also said that there is a tsunami?

Call me on May 16 at noon. You will know if it is my over confidence or your assessment is correct.

By how many votes will you win?

I will not say anything I was told after Modi’s rally that here (in Varanasi) it will not be a vote count instead it’ll be a head count.

Aren’t you afraid of Arvind Kejriwal? The way he is campaigning. There has been violence too between the BJP and Aam Aadmi Party workers, which never happened in Varanasi.

Small incidents do take place in elections but they cannot be termed as violence. We are trying our best that they do not occur.

You have told all party workers “Chalo Varanasi”. If this is such an easy seat why are you calling everyone here?

All party leaders are not coming to Varanasi, our leaders will go to all the 32 seats in Purvanchal.

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Image: Thousands of people join Modi's roadshow in Varanaso
Photographs: Sandeep Pal

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'I never called Priyanka Gandhi a television star'

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Another seat is Amethi…do you think you are in race here and you can defeat Rahul Gandhi?

Amethi is Congress’s patrimonial seat. No doubt about that but as far as these elections are concerned there is some change in Amethi too.

Now in a way Priyanka Gandhi has taken over Amethi and Rae Bareli. Still you feel there has been a change?

Priyanka Gandhi campaigns in every election. She campaigned in the last assembly election too.

She is saying that since she has come the BJP is behaving like panic-stricken rats. Do you fear the Priyanka factor?

No, there will be an increase in your TRPs that’s it. It will not make any difference to the party's fortune

You say there is an increase in TRPs?

I never called Priyanka Gandhi a television star. The TRPs are increased by incidents. We have no problem in Priyanka campaigning for her mother and her brother in their bastions. We our fighting out battle and they are fighting theirs.

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Image: Priyanka Gandhi interacts with villagers in UP


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'We will get 272+ so there so there is no point in thinking of Plan B'

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Do you believe that after the tsunami as you had said there is a lot of destruction too?

Yes the destruction will be for all the other parties.

Where do you get this confidence from?

It comes from the public.

People in the Congress say any party that sets a target of 272 will get less

What do I comment on this. I can only say we are going to win by a big margin and achieve 272+.

If you don’t achieve the 272 target is there a plan B?

See we will get 272+ so there so there is no point thinking of Plan B.

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Image: A supporter of Modi holds out a mask during a rally in Meerut
Photographs: Reuters

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'Soonpagate commission is formed because of political vindictiveness'

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What is the truth in the snoopgate?

There is already a commission formed by the state government to probe the snooping case.  I will tell the truth in front of the commission.

But the Centre does not having faith in it…

We don't want the Centre's trust in the commission. Secondly, the (government's) commission is being formed during elections when there will be a change at the Centre. So, this is nothing but political vindictiveness.

The central government will appoint a judge to preside over snooping scandal probe against Narendra Modi…

It is nothing but political vindictiveness and the BJP has no faith whatsoever in such a commission appointed by the Centre.

Will the BJP-led government continue with the commission or scrap it? 

Let them make the commission first. There have been three announcements to constitute a commission in seven months and it has not been formed. Let's see what happens.

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Image: UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi with PM Manmohan Singh


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'My relationship with Modi is like that of a leader and worker'

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You have two images -- one as a master strategist and other as a ruthless person. Amit Shah can do anything for winning elections. Who is the real Amit Shah?

As far as implementation of the strategy of the party is concerned I am ruthless.

I am asking because you have been surrounded by controversies -- the fake encounter case, there is snoopgate. Why do you get in so many controversies?

I have been roped into controversies. As far as the fake encounter case is concerned or for that matter all encounters in Gujarat have happened because of the political approach. I have said this before also.

During the same period, when I was the home minister there were around 1,500 encounter cases in the country and the least in Gujarat -- 17. But investigations are going on in Gujarat.

Modi says he has been victimised for 2002. Now Amit Shah says the same...

The Union government is criticising the Gujarat  government.

Have you now become a national leader? If BJP comes to power you will be No 2?

As far as I am concerned, I have never decided what I have to do. The party has decided what I have to do.

What is your relationship with Narendra Modi?

He is the leader of our party and I am a party worker. So our relationship is like that of a leader and a worker.

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Image: Modi with BJP spokesperson Prakash Javdekar and Amit Shah


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