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UP Elections 2017: BJP Will Get 2/3rd Majority in UP; Will Better Our Lok Sabha Majority in 2019, Says Amit Shah

The BJP will come to power with a 2/3rd majority in Uttar Pradesh, party national president Amit Shah told Network18 in an exclusive interview, adding that the voters were smart enough to see through Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s attempts to use the Samajwadi Party family drama to cover up his poor track record.

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Updated:January 30, 2017, 6:44 PM IST
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New Delhi: The BJP will come to power with a 2/3rd majority in Uttar Pradesh, party national president Amit Shah told Network18 in an exclusive interview, adding that the voters were smart enough to see through Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s attempts to use the Samajwadi Party family drama to cover up his poor track record.

The BJP is pitted against a formidable alliance that saw SP chief Akhilesh and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi sharing stage for the first time on Sunday. Talking to Network 18 Group Editor-in-Chief Rahul Joshi, the BJP chief conceded his main rival was the SP-Congress combo, but he said Akhilesh’s failure to ensure rule of law will be his undoing.

“Massive cattle theft has robbed people of their livelihoods, families are being raped in highways, parents are afraid to send their girls to colleges, and people are migrating because of fear and joblessness... The election will be on this issue (of law & order). Akhilesh is wrong if he thinks he can fool people with his family drama and an alliance,” Shah said.

The UP assembly polls are crucial for both Amit Shah and Modi not the least because of the political significance of grabbing power India’s most populous state. Successive drubbings in Delhi and Bihar had put question marks on the “high command” structure of the BJP where the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah duo takes all crucial decisions. Besides, this would be the first major poll after the demonetisation drive announced by PM Modi last November, a defeat in UP will be interpreted by Opposition as a thumbs down to note ban.

Talking to Network18, Shah said he believed demonetisation will help BJP in UP. However, he was reluctant to call the polls a referendum on the decision. “It won’t be correct to say the UP polls would be a referendum on note ban. Because in UP there are so many anti-incumbency issues. But if the Opposition wants a referendum on note ban, we are open to it. In the issue of not ban, the people of UP are with BJP. And they will vote on the lotus symbol,” he said.

Amit Shah to Network18

Shah also sought to play down recent comments made by RSS spokesperson Manmohan Vaidya on reservations and said the remarks were taken out of context. “Both BJP and RSS have made it amply clear that in the prevailing situation the current system of reservation must continue. There is no question of revisiting the issue,” he said.

Amit Shah to Network18

Shah made it amply clear that BJP would take on the alliance with law and order as the major focus. He also rubbished allegations that the party’s emphasis on women’s security, cattle theft and exodus was part of a strategy to keep the communal cauldron burning.

“UP presents a peculiar condition. There's anger among the general public. If someone speaks up against the politics of appeasement and vote bank, he is only articulating public mood. But I agree there should be no communal agenda in polls. If we appeal to shut mechanised slaughterhouses, then it cannot be called communal, we are doing it for the farmers. A taskforce against exodus in western UP can’t be termed communal, it is a constitutional right of the people. In UP, people have stopped sending their daughters to colleges because the girls get harassed. We have promised that BJP will form an anti-Romeo Squad to save these girls. This is not communal,” Shah said.

Amit Shah to Network18

When asked why the Ram Temple issue suddenly cropped up in the BJP poll manifesto even when the party has clarified it is fighting the polls on developmental issues, Shah said BJP is “very clear” about building the Ram temple. “It can only be done under the Constitutional provisions: either through dialogue or through court order. Yes, we are definitely committed to building a Ram temple, but within the Constitutional provisions,” he said.

Amit Shah to Network18

Shah also said his party was of the firm view that triple talaq curtails fundamental rights of women guaranteed by the Constitution.

Amit Shah to Network18

As for the other elections happening along with UP, Shah said his party will win Uttarakhand easily while in Punjab it was a triangular fight. As for sending Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar back to Goa as CM if the party comes back to power, Shah had this to say: “The party has not yet decided to send Manohar Parrikar back to Goa as CM. What we have said is that if people of Goa and the elected MLAs want, both the options are open.”

Shah also dismissed charges that BJP was embracing dynasty politics by allotting tickets to the kith and kin of party leaders. In the interview, he sought to make a distinction between BJP and Congress on this matter.

Amit Shah to Network18

“In BJP, family members of leaders are free to work hard for the party, run for elections and become MLAs. But whether they will become CM or not depends solely on their merit. So let’s not have simplistic definitions on dynasty politics,” he said.

“If Rahul Gandhi has a child, there is no confusion then who will be the next Congress president. But can you guess who will be the next BJP president? No you cannot. This is the difference between the BJP and all other parties,” he said.

Shah said he wanted the party to do better bin the 2019 general elections than it did in 2014. Ruling out any plans to return to his home state of Gujarat as chief minister, Shah said he had no time to think of such things because he was focused on the 2019 polls.

ALSO READ | Reading Between Amit Shah's Lines: Back to Basics, With a Twist
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ALSO READ | In Western UP, Slaughterhouses Are Once Again in BJP's Crosshairs

WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE
Amit Shah to Network18

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