“Not just 2024, Modi will be PM in 2029 too… people want him to continue,” says Rajnath Singh | India news

Despite a lower back injury, Minister of Defence Rajnath Singh keeps a grueling schedule, criss-crosses the country to campaign BJP candidates. During his brief stopover a day before his constituency Lucknow was due to vote, he spoke TOI on a number of different issues. Excerpt from the interview:
The BJP’s slogan is ‘400 paar’ for the NDA, whereas opposition parties claim that it will not be able to cross even 200 seats. The gap between the two claims is gaping. Who to trust?
■ Our aim is our promise (sankalp)… The four rounds of polls have already given majority to BJP and we are well on our way to win more than 400 seats for the alliance. Our goals are based on surging support and feedback from people. We have made a realistic assessment of our prospects, and the goal is realistic.
Struggle for power after two terms is inevitable. It is not possible to meet everyone’s expectations, and disappointment is a natural consequence. Why do you still feel so confident?
■ There is no doubt that it is a challenging task to fulfill 100% expectations and hopes for one and all. However, there should not be a question mark about the credibility of the party members. Everyone has seen that the BJP brass have fulfilled what they have promised. You can look at our party manifesto since 1950… when we got majority we acted on our promises and delivered.
But there must be some apprehension about whether candidates who have already completed two terms can be won… there might be anti-power against them.
■ Look, I don’t deny that it is possible to some extent. But it is trumped by the bigger issues at stake: the way the country’s status has risen globally, the way social welfare schemes have touched every household and empowered them, I am sure people will rest faith in the BJP . People sometimes express dissatisfaction with a particular individual, but their confidence in the leadership of Narendra Modi is adamant and they say ‘aayega to Modi hello’.
There was anger among workers, especially in western UP, against some candidates.
■ Each party goes for assessment through some agency. Most decisions are made on the basis of the observations after the assessment. I wouldn’t say that the decisions made this way are 100% correct. The probability of error is there in everything.
Why, then, does the Hindu-Muslim debate dominate the election discourse?
■ We never do Hindu-Muslim politics. We believe in the mantra of ‘Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam’ – the whole world is one family – given by our sages since ancient times. So there is no question of discrimination on caste and community lines. Has there been any discrimination in the provision of social welfare schemes? I would like you to quote PM Modi on this issue and I can give you a number of examples once the PM himself has clarified.
But top BJP functionaries, including the prime minister, say properties will be taken over by the Congress and given to Muslims.
Your party is talking about inheritance tax and x-ray of properties, which Rahul Gandhi mentioned in his speeches.
■ We never say that it will be given exclusively to Muslims. But what kind of ideas does the opposition get? They should learn from examples of other countries like Brazil, Venezuela etc. They went bankrupt only because of such ideologies. I am surprised that such views still have traction. What do you do with such a mindset? Why does an investor come? Why would one want to serve if it will eventually be taken away by the likes of Sam Pitroda?
Opposition parties, particularly Arvind Kejriwal, claim that Modi will pass the baton to Amit Shah.
■ First of all, their claim carries a message that they have already accepted their defeat and conceded that Modi will be the Prime Minister again. But who is he (Kejriwal) to take a decision for BJP? Such a decision can only be taken by the political party concerned… in our case it is the parliamentary board that takes such decisions. The Board has already announced that Modi will be the Prime Minister. In fact, Modi will also be the Prime Minister 2029. India will be a developed nation under his stewardship. People in the country want him to continue as Prime Minister.
Kejriwal also says that Yogi Adityanath will be replaced as Uttar Pradesh CM if BJP returns to office.
■ Why? He (Adityanath) has done an excellent job as Chief Minister. The law and order situation is at its best. The state has witnessed an unprecedented development. Kaise hata diya jaayega? But let me tell you one thing, such talk by opposition parties also reflects that they have nothing to speak against Modi government, its achievements as they are more focused on talking about BJP and making wild statements. It shows that the Congress and the opposition bloc are distressed and desperate.
But such claims gained credence after Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Manohar Lal Khattar were replaced as CMs of MP and Haryana respectively?
■ (disconnect). Shivraj Singh Chouhan had an impeccable record as CM. He was CM for 18-19 years. He is a senior member of our party. There is a lot of responsibility in the party… Center is there too.
It is said that there was a party rule that people over the age of 75 would not participate in polls. The decision was made when you were party chairman.
■ (disconnect). It was never decided. You can write in bold letters that no such decision was made… I was the party chairman and I say it emphatically that there was no such decision at all. Had it been decided, it would have been mentioned in the party constitution. Moreover, had there been such a decision, our senior member LK Advani ji would not have contested the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. There were several others above 75 years who contested and won the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
You have spoken several times that India will recover POK.
■ I have been talking about this for many years, it is our commitment. I expect people from POK will take a call and claim that they want to secede from Pakistan and merge with India. You must have seen people from POK removing the Pakistani flag.
There is a statement from you that India will kill its enemies even if they are hiding in another country.
■ Let me repeat exactly what I said. India has never attacked any country or conquered its land. We don’t look anyone in the eye, but someone shows us the power to give a big answer (We don’t go around threatening, but are able to fight back if someone tries to mess with us).
Your party is claiming big gains in South India. You had several rallies there. Do you think BJP will do better in these states?
■ We are confident of a better performance. Even in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, our party is expected to win a few seats. Our vote share will increase significantly even in Tamil Nadu. However, our party is sure to win big in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
There is a perception in Odisha that BJD and BJP are engaged in shadow boxing and Naveen Patnaik will let BJP improve its share of Lok Sabha seats and in return you will not prevent another term for him.
■ That is not true at all. Politics is serious business. BJP is an ideology driven party and it does not resort to such games.
From 2014 to 2019 you were Minister of the Interior and then Minister of Defence. What role do you see for yourself in the future?
■ It is up to the party to decide. It is not necessary that one continues to have responsibility throughout one’s life. Until the time I can work, I will carry out my responsibilities honestly and with ideological commitment. There is no discrimination at all. I believe that our ideology does not allow discrimination based on caste, creed and religion.
You said that one issue in this election is that India’s pride and respect has increased abroad. How did you come to this conclusion?
■ I had mentioned an example of an event held a few days ago where the US ambassador spoke. He said if you want to feel the future, come to India; if you want to see the future come to India and if you want to work in the future come to India. Several heads of state have already said that the 21st century belongs to India. There is no confusion that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done exemplary work. Even the opponents would not deny this if asked in private. He has made the country’s economy stronger.
BJP is raising the Swati Maliwal issue in a big way.
■ It is very sad and unfortunate. I said a day ago that it is unfortunate that such misbehavior with a woman Rajya Sabha member has taken place in the CM’s residence. I need not say anything about Akhilesh Yadav but as a well wisher my suggestion is that he should not have shared the dais with Arvind Kejriwal.
Some people say that RSS is not actively involved in polls this time.
■ (laughs). There is no basis for that. It is a wrong narrative. Shows the desperation of our opponents.
This is the first choice after the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya. It was thought that there would be excitement among people. However, the drop in the vote indicates otherwise.
■ Results haven’t come yet… (smiles). Secondly, BJP has never treated the Ram temple as an election issue. It is a matter of faith, belief and heritage. We have never seen this through the lens of politics. There should be development along with preservation of heritage and cultural heritage.
Are there concerns about polling rates?
■ It is hot these days. Second, the INDI Alliance has not been effective. There is no enthusiasm among its voters.
What is your prediction for Amethi and Rae Bareli?
■ BJP.
Will your margin of victory in Lucknow increase?
■ It will cross 5 lakh if ​​voter turnout improves.
Your government has taken a pledge (Viksit Bharat sankalp) to make India a developed country by 2047. In the last 10 years the foundation for the same is being laid. How good is progress?
■ The foundation is very strong. It is for this reason that the country has emerged as the fastest growing economy. The sheer size of the economy as well as the pace at which it is growing proves that the country will achieve the goal of becoming a developed nation by 2047.

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