'The UP election results show that people voted not on caste and religion lines; they went above that and voted for development, honesty, pride in the country, etc.'
'If UP can show the way, the rest of the country also can follow.'
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
Alphons Kannanthanam, a former IAS officer, was known as the 'Demolition man' when he was the Delhi Development Authority commissioner. He was also instrumental in making Kottayam the first 100% literate state in India.
After winning election to the Kerala assembly as an Independent with the Left's support, Alphons joined the BJP in 2011.
A member of the BJP national executive, he discusses his party's biggest win after the 2014 Lok Sabha election with Rediff.com's Shobha Warrier.
The BJP had not projected a chief ministerial candidate and it was Narendra Modi all the way. Do you feel it is Modi's victory that we see in UP?
It is the victory for the BJP, and the party is led by the prime minister, who is the most charismatic leader today, and also party chief Amit Shah.
Though the victory is for the party, it is a vote for Modi and the great organisational capacity of Amit Shah.
You mean the architect of the victory is Amit Shah and the face is that of Narendra Modi?
What has played a major role is the charisma of Modi and what he has done in the past two-and-a-half years for the poor as prime minister, and the economic direction he has given to the country.
One thing we can proudly say: We could wipe off corruption which no country could hope to achieve in such a short span.
What not even the US or any other country could achieve, Modi was able to do.
So, this is an endorsement on what he has been doing as prime minister of the country.
Demonetisation was described as anti-people by the media and this election was described as a referendum on Modi's move.
But from the election results, it appears the people, especially the poor, support what Modi has done.
At the party level, do you feel demonetisation has touched a chord with the people?
Absolutely. Modi said what he was doing was for the poor.
It was a hugely daring decision by the prime minister as we were hitting out against our own constituency.
But he said this country had to be cleaned up, and he had the courage to do so.
People understood what he said, that this country is not only for the rich and the corrupt, but also for the honest man.
So, this vote is for the honest face of the prime minister.
I would go on to say it is a huge victory for democracy.
Do you feel caste and religion are slowly disappearing from Indian politics, or it will take a long time for it to happen?
The UP election results show that people voted not on caste and religion lines; they went above that and voted for development, honesty, pride in the country, etc.
If UP can show the way, the rest of the country also can follow.
It will still take some more time for caste and religion to disappear from Indian politics.
It's just the beginning.
How long will it take for the BJP to shed the communal tag?
If you look at the-two-and-a-half years of the Modi government, has anything been done on a communal basis?
He has made it very clear in Parliament that the country belongs to everybody and he will look after everybody's welfare.
This is the end of communal politics. Just look at what we have been doing and then, talk.
The BJP is perceived as a Hindu party by many and you are a Christian. Do you feel comfortable in the party?
I am fine and what do I look for when I am in politics?
A corruption-free government which is ready to deliver what people wants. That is exactly what the prime minister is doing.
I would say it is a fantastic administration for all. He has been very, very, fair.
All my life as an IAS officer, I fought against corruption and tried to deliver things to the people.
That is what Modi and the BJP are doing now. That is why I am happy with him and the party.
It is expected that if Modi won UP, he would go into top gear to implement most of the economic decisions. Will that happen now that he has won a huge victory in UP?
It is a big win and obviously, he will have more confidence in what he wants to do.
UP is the biggest state in India and without UP, nobody can say that the whole country is with you.
Now that we won the Parliament elections and assembly elections in a big way, this shows the faith people have in the party and the prime minister.
Therefore, the government will go ahead much more aggressively against corruption and for development.