November 10, 2001


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The Rediff Interview/Jana Krishnamurthy

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has indicated on more than one occasion that the gap between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the government has widened. Vajpayee has spoken of instances where he was not even informed properly about party meetings.

But BJP president Jana Krishnamurthy denies any such miscommunication. "Atalji has himself clarified the issue and yet the media continues to blow it out of proportions," Krishnamurthy told Onkar Singh in New Delhi. He also denied that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh was unhappy with the party. Excerpts:

Why is Prime Minister Vajpayee unhappy with the manner in which the BJP is being run?

I do not know how you have this impression that Prime Minister Vajpayee is unhappy with the party or the manner in which it is being run. He has never said he is unhappy with the party.

If he is not unhappy with the party, why did he say he hadn't received the full programme of a particular function?

Atalji has already clarified that he made those comments in Delhi in a lighter tone and that there were no serious overtones in those comments. We have an excellent relationship with him.

What kind of relationship does the BJP as a party have with the government?

There is no difference between the BJP and the government at the Centre. The relations between the two are as good as they should be. The government is proceeding according to the agenda of the National Democratic Alliance, where the BJP is the largest party.

What has been the change in government policy after the September 11 terrorist attacks on America?

There is no major change in policy as such. The only change that has taken place are the developments at the international level. The Government of India has been fighting terrorism in Kashmir for the last 12 years, but the world did not take notice of it. Now, after the attack on America, the world powers have got together to launch a fight against terrorism. America is now engaged in fighting terrorism in Afghanistan and after that it will continue to fight terrorism at other places. This is for the first time that India's voice has been responded to by the leading nations of the world.

Are there any apprehensions in government circles that once America is free from Afghanistan, it might try to mediate in Kashmir?

Why should you believe that America would try to mediate in Kashmir? We have made it amply clear that Kashmir is an integral part of India and there is no question of accepting third-party mediation. This probably could have happened during the Congress government, but in the last three years there has not been a single instance where America has tried to pressurise India.

What gives you the impression that the Americans are now supporting India?

America is now changing its views. After Bill Clinton's visit to India there has been a major shift in American policy towards India. President Bush wants to improve these relations further.

When the BJP was not in power it always said, let us cross the Line of Control and finish off the terrorist camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Now that you are in power why don't you do that?

We never said that. Show me even one resolution which says this and was passed by the national executive.

But Atalji and [Union Home Minister Lal Kishenchand] Advaniji always made speeches to this effect.

What Atalji and Advaniji have said is that cross-border terrorism should stop. We never said that we would cross the Line of Control.

Do you mean there is a difference between what you say in public speeches and what is there in the form of party documents?

I have told you to show me even a single resolution that says we should cross the Line of Control. Don't go by impressions. We practise what we preach.

The BJP has always stood for scrapping Article 370, which gives a special status to Jammu & Kashmir. Now that you are in power, you have done nothing about it. Why?

We have always said that Kashmir is an integral part of India. We will ensure that every inch of Kashmir is with us. When the Agra talks began the prime minister told Pervez Musharraf that we must first talk about Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. We have not changed our stance. What we said on Kashmir before is what we are saying even today.

The RSS says it is worried about the image of the party and that is why it has agreed to send two of its pracharaks as chief ministers to Gujarat and Uttaranchal. Is the RSS taking over?

The replacement of two chief ministers does not mean the RSS is taking over. If the RSS had to take over it would have happened in the 1950s. Tell me, which party does not change chief ministers when it wants to. Recently, the Congress changed its chief minister in Pondicherry.

Are you now in the process of changing the chief minister of Jharkhand?

I do not know whether you have better contacts in the RSS than I do. There is no plan to change the chief minister in Jharkhand.

But you said the same thing when the chief ministers of Uttaranchal and Gujarat were to be changed?

The problem with the media is that it reads too much into everything. Keshubhai Patel was doing fine in Gujarat, but we needed someone to do even better, that is why Narendra Modi was sent there. The same goes for Uttaranchal, where Bhagat Singh Koshiari has taken over from Nityanand Swami.

Farooq Abdullah has alleged that the BJP is playing politics in Jammu and organising bandhs to embarrass the state government.

We have a partnership with Farooq Abdullah at the Centre and not in the state. There we are in the opposition and we play the role of the opposition. After all, elections in Jammu & Kashmir are due shortly.

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