'We are not marketing (the) Modi name but the work and trust that it projects.
'Modi symbol hai desh ke garib ke kalyan ka, Modi symbol hai is desh ke gaurav ko badhane ka, Modi symbol hai desh ki suraksha ka (Modi is the national symbol for poverty alleviation, Modi is a symbol for building national pride, Modi is a symbol for securing the nation).'
Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah has been targeting Bengal with laser-like focus, determined to ensure that the party sees an uptick in the number of seats it won in 2014 (two seats).
The ruling Trinamool Congress has been equally determined to defend its fortress, and the outcome has been a case of an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object.
Against the backdrop of Tuesday's violence sparked off in the wake of Shah's road show in Kolkata, I thought it would be educative to revisit some of his recent interviews, to get an idea of his mental processes. Here's a selection.
When The Week asked him about Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu saying there would not be any more elections if Modi was elected again
There will be elections again. But after the voters teach him a lesson, no one will know whether he will take part in elections the next time or not.
On candidate selection criteria
Winnability and representation to all classes of society are the two criteria for selecting BJP candidates.
If he was a future PM candidate
There is no question of that. There are many senior leaders in the party before me. I respect them all.
Modiji will stay as prime minister for a long time. We are all standing beside Modiji.
I have been an MLA for 25 years. I am a political worker who stays among the people.
When my assembly term ended, there was no Lok Sabha election. So, I went to the Rajya Sabha.
I wanted a direct mandate from the people to go to Parliament and the party agreed.
One can become a minister even from the Rajya Sabha.
The party has given me a big responsibility. I am the party president and it is an important responsibility in a party like the BJP. I am satisfied with whatever responsibility I have.
Interview to India Today TV
The people of Bengal are in search of development.
The kind of response I am getting in Bengal, I think this time we are on the threshold of a big change.
In Mamataji's rule the entire state is in the hands of infiltrators, in the hands of goondas.
We are not planning to make her government fall, but what if it falls under its own weight?
It is her job to keep her MLAs united.
There is tremendous anger among the public against her government, even her legislators are seeing it. It's not against them, but against Mamataji and her nephew, against Mamataji and her goondas.
To the Indian Express
On Uttar Pradesh
Even today, I am confident we will maintain our 73 seats and can go up beyond 74. You may not accept it, but I will reiterate. Our 73 will not become 72, it can only become 74.
On hate speech by party leaders
We are a big party with 11 crore members. The media will have to decide whom they consider as party.
The party has a structure: we have spokespersons, office-bearers, people selected in the government.
Sometimes, people blurt out a few sentences in the flow of their sentiment. They should be judged by (their) actions, on the basis of what is their action.
If there is some action, then I will have to own up to your questions and face finger-pointing.
On his Wayanad in Pakistan comment
No, no, I didn’t say (anything) about the people. I was referring to the procession, the visuals, the flags. You should look it up.
The question is mahaul kaisa hai aur kyun aisa mahaul hai (how’s the atmosphere and why is it so). I didn’t say about the people or the region.
But the mahaul (atmosphere) in the procession was a classic case of appeasement.
On those who vote against BJP
Those who do not vote (for the BJP) are free to have their voting choice.
I do not believe that only those voting for the BJP are deshbhakts (patriots).
On cow vigilantism
Mob lynching is a question of law and order. If you compare statistics, it was similar during the previous government.
I will own up if we (BJP governments) have dithered in tackling any case. Challans have been issued. Section 302 has been invoked in all cases. Punishments have been announced in three cases.
We haven’t taken any case lightly.
On dropping PDP, and Kashmiri Muslims
I cannot make public the reason behind our exit as it was a matter between the two parties.
But I can tell you categorically that whenever the BJP talks about terrorism, it isn’t a euphemism either for Kashmiris or Muslims. It only refers to terrorists.
On failure in the jobs front
There can’t be 125 crore government jobs in a country of 125 crore people.
We have tried to generate jobs.
Jobs will automatically get generated if we speed up the pace of road construction.
If Railway works happen at more than twice the speed, it will generate more jobs.
If we connect one lakh villages with optical fibre, there will be job generation.
Constructing eight crore toilets, two crore houses, and the economy growing at the rate of 7-8 per cent will generate jobs.
On over-reliance on Modi's name
If I start saying ‘Ravish, Ravish, Ravish’, will it fetch votes?
They (the Congress) are chanting ‘Rahul, Rahul, Rahul’, where are the votes?
People vote when they trust the work done by the person. You are discounting the trust element. There is work behind that name, there has to be trust behind that name.
You are discounting this and only focusing on the name.
We are not marketing (the) Modi name but the work and trust that it projects.
Modi symbol hai desh ke garib ke kalyan ka, Modi symbol hai is desh ke gaurav ko badhane ka, Modi symbol hai desh ki suraksha ka (Modi is the national symbol for poverty alleviation, Modi is a symbol for building national pride, Modi is a symbol for securing the nation).
On candidate selection
We took 86 hours of deliberations to finalise our candidates. The top 11 people spent time.
It doesn’t take time to run through 500 names but (if there was no disagreement) why should we take so much time?
The seats left out are still being discussed with state units. No other party has such a detailed consultation process.
On Dalit disenchantment with BJP
It’s not about the BJP, there is an effort going on to foment discontent against the system. We will have to face it as a country.
Every party has its cadres. They can mobilise for protests. We can do that as well. You wait for counting day. The BJP will sweep almost every Dalit seat.
Interview to Mint
On new voter behaviour
The country has emerged from the politics based on family, caste and appeasement; if I can say it bluntly, minority appeasement.
This is because the country has witnessed the politics of performance in the last five years and voters have accepted this new metric.
On motormouths in the BJP
A politician gives a 40-minute speech and for two minutes they say something controversial that becomes front page news; for TRP reasons this is played in a loop. And 38 minutes of the speech is ignored.
On culture clash with new entrants
BJP ka hajma bada mazboot hai (BJP has a strong constitution and can assimilate them).
This is a process. They cannot change BJP; instead, staying with the BJP they will revisit their own thinking.