'Balakot Strikes Touched People's Hearts': Manoj Sinha Says IAF Action Did Help BJP in Elections
Senior BJP leader Manoj Sinha said Rafale did not become an election issue as Rahul Gandhi admitted in Supreme Court that he was 'lying for political benefits'.
File image of Manoj Sinha. (Image: PTI)
Campaigning has reached its peak for the seventh and last phase of Lok Sabha elections and Union minister Manoj Sinha, the sitting member of Parliament from Ghazipur in eastern Uttar Pradesh, is busy giving a final push to his poll campaign.
Taking out time from his busy schedule, he speaks to CNN-News18 about Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s “admission” in Supreme Court over Rafale issue, contesting from the high-profile Ghazipur seat and counters allegations that nationalism is dominating country’s growth and employment. Edited excerpts:
Voting for six phases of the Lok Sabha elections is over and only the last phase is left. What are you expecting the results to be?
I have a strong feeling that the BJP, along with its NDA allies, will get a much bigger mandate than what it got in the last elections and it will form the government with a bigger majority compared to 2014. I am seeing that on ground and the kind of response people are giving to us is unbelievable.
Incumbent governments often face anti-incumbency as people make an assessment of the work done by them. In this context, why should people vote Narendra Modi back to power?
I am myself surprised that first-time voters are participating in the electoral process to form the government. The reason behind this is the quality of work done for people under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. People were not expecting this much so there is no anti-incumbency against the government. There is pro-incumbency and people are voting to reelect the government as they want it to continue at the Centre.
How do you counter Opposition’s allegations that the issue of nationalism is dominating growth and employment issues because you have failed on these fronts?
The allegations are baseless. In comparison to the investment prior to 2014, the investment has increased 2.5 to 3 times in infrastructure projects such as highways, railways, ports, airports, etc. Bharat Mala and Sagar Mala are another examples. So, naturally, employment has increased because investment has increased. As far as government jobs are concerned, due procedures have been followed. Mudra bank and skill development schemed have played an important role in giving employment as one person taking loan has given employment to another one or two people. So there is no question of decreasing employment and it is nothing but a rumour.
Another point you talked about is economic growth. It has remained highest in comparison to other countries in these five years after independence. We could control inflation as well. So work of the government on both the issues — employment and growth—is commendable.
As far as nationalism is concerned, it has always been a top priority for us. People believe that the nation is more secured in the hand of Narendra Modi. We had not invited terrorists to Pulwama. If the government had not paid back in the same coins, the same Opposition would have mocked us.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi focused his entire campaign on targeting Modi on Rafale issue. Do you think that it created any dent in your government's image that has been free of corruption charges in five years? Do you think it would impact the election results?
I don’t think nation trusts Rahul Gandhi’s statement. Rahul has already admitted through his affidavit in Supreme Court that he was lying for political benefits. The Supreme Court and CAG have given a clean chit on the issue so it has not become an issue in the elections.
The BJP won 73 seats in Uttar Pradesh in 2014 Lok Sabha elections and it helped the party fetch an absolute majority. Do you think the SP-BSP alliance can cause dent BJP’s prospects in the state?
I don’t think there will be any loss as their alliance is not working on the ground. The performance of SP and BSP was not satisfactory so people are not going to repose faith in them. It is an alliance of parties but their hearts have not come together (Dalon ka gathjod hai dilon ka nahi). Our vote percentage has increased by manifold so we will repeat the performance of 2014 in Uttar Pradesh for sure.
You are campaigning in Bihar. How do you find NDA’s performance in the state? Is alliance working on the ground?
Our alliance is cohesive and the BJP, JD(U) and LJP are working together to perform better than 2014. I am sure that NDA will win a higher number of seats. The grand alliance is facing internal bickering and their own alliance leaders are working against each other to score the points.
Is this election being fought on Modi’s personality?
It is quite natural as Modi is the Prime Minister of the country and BJP’s tallest leader. The work of Modi government has been impressive in the last five years. People feel only Modi ji can give security to the nation. Hence the election revolves around Modi ji.
Has the military action in Balakot helped you in the elections?
India is an emotional country and this emotion touches the people hearts. This action has induced people with vigorous energy. They felt India can avenge if subject to an offense. (Bharat chhedta nahi hai par chhedta hai to chhorta nahi hai). I strongly feel this action is helping us in the elections.
You are contesting from Ghazipur and fighting against mahagathbandhan candidate Afzal Ansari, who is known to be a strongman. It is also believed that the social equation of the alliance is against you. Does this caste equation really work on the ground?
Ghazipur and UP are suffering from the menace of caste politics since long. However, this time people are voting for development and driving fear and musclemen out of Ghazipur. My support base is increasing every day. I have support of every section of the society. This election is not being fought by the BJP but by the commoners of Ghazipur.
People call you Vikash Purush in Ghazipur . Do you think, people will reward you for your work and vote against Afzal Ansari?
I believe this election is between development and crime (vikas banam Bahubal). I am certain that people of Ghazipur will vote for development.
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