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'Modi was never told about Rs 5 entry fee for his event'

July 17, 2013 12:06 IST

'Modi was never told about Rs 5 entry fee for his event'

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Vicky Nanjappa

The Rs 5 'registration' fee for Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's public meeting in Hyderabad sparked a fresh slugfest between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress which said the rival party was "monetizing democracy" by collecting a "listening tax".

However, Andhra Pradesh BJP chief Kishan Reddy, the rally organiser, says that the event was not a rally but a youth conclave and that the entry fee was not compulsory.

Reddy spoke to rediff.com’s Vicky Nanjappa

The issue of the Rs 5 entry fee is all over the news. What was the idea behind this?

First and foremost the programme is not a rally, but a youth conclave. We have decided that all those who attend the programme can contribute Rs 5. This money will be given for the relief work in Uttarakhand.

Is it compulsory to pay?

No it is not. Those who say they do not want to or cannot afford it do not have to. It is voluntary.

Does this have Narendra Modi’s approval?

This is a state BJP policy. No, we have not informed him about this. But because this is voluntary, nobody would have any problem with this. The idea of this conclave is to motivate the youth.

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Image: (Inset) Andhra Pradesh BJP chief Kishan Reddy


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Why has Modi chosen to commence his southern campaign from Andhra Pradesh, which is a weak state for the BJP?

The BJP may be making a start in Andhra Pradesh, but every survey in the state says that they would vote for Modi as prime minister. We have spoken to many party leaders in the state, including the Congress, who say that Modi is best suited to be prime minister. 

In fact, a Congress leader told me recently that his wife and children say they would vote for Modi. They may not believe in the BJP’s ideology, but will vote for Modi. That’s the general mood in the state.

Do you expect Modi to be a success in Andhra Pradesh?

Yes, he will be a big hit here. It is a historic milestone. We have conducted surveys in all parts of the states and there is a pro-Modi wave. The youth, in particular, are his biggest followers. Andhra Pradesh has a many educational institutions and hence the number of young followers is very high.

Why do you think Modi is more popular in north India compared to south?

There is more entrepreneurship in the northern states and hence they connect with him very well. Today however, down south, people have realised that they want him as their leader. The 2014 elections will be all about development and issues of corruption. Modi is not corrupt and he has proven to be pro-development. The following in southern India has gone up and will continue to increase. 

In Andhra Pradesh, the only issue that the BJP is raising is good governance, development and able leadership and Modi fits the bracket in all these three departments.

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Do you see the fortunes of the BJP changing in Andhra Pradesh after Modi’s arrival? The party is number 4 now in the state?

As I said earlier, we will have a good result for the BJP. Regional parties will be marginalised and 70 out of 100 people will vote for Modi as prime minister.

It is often said that Modi has more appeal in the urban areas only. What is the scenario in rural Andhra Pradesh?

That is not correct. His appeal covers all areas. Go to any village in Andhra Pradesh and you will find out how much people want Modi as their leader. People in the rural areas are ready to work for Modi irrespective of the party he belongs to.

Telangana is a major issue as you know. What is the party’s stand today on the issue?

The Congress will never give Telangana. But if the BJP comes to power, Telangana will happen in 100 days. L K Advani had made this assurance.

Will Narendra Modi share the same view?

Yes, he will and I have no doubt about that.

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