In an interview with Hindustan Times, Bharatiya Janata Party’s national general secretary Ram Madhav spoke extensively on Kashmir, where he was one of the architects of the BJP forming an alliance with the Peoples Democratic Party in 2015 that broke…

New Delhi,  May 5:

In an interview with Sunetra Choudhury, Bharatiya Janata Party’s national general secretary Ram Madhav spoke extensively on Kashmir, where he was one of the architects of the BJP forming an alliance with the Peoples Democratic Party in 2015 that broke down last year. Edited excerpts:

Q. You’ve been touring Jammu and Kashmir, where there’s anger against the BJP’s position on Article 35A and Article 370. Is there a divergence of opinion between you and other BJP leaders on this point? Your party leaders have spoken about doing away with both while you have been talking about a resolution through discussions

A. No question because removal of Article 370 has been the core conviction of our party, right from the beginning. We are all committed to removal of Article 370 because we see it as a big hinderance in the process of emotional integration of the people of Kashmir valley with the rest of the country. It creates an emotional barrier.

About the process, yes, it has to go to parliament. That’s why it has taken so long and we are unable to see it happen. Article 35A is before the Supreme Court of India, let the court take a view because our main contention against it is that it was introduced in a surreptitious and illegal manner.

Interview I Ram Madhav on BJP’s post poll strategy, alliances and more

Q. The court seems to be very clear in not disrupting the status quo

A. I don’t know what line the court will finally take but it is true that the legal process is taking time. If not today or tomorrow, the court will take a view on that.

Our case, by our I mean those who have gone to court, is very strong. Any amendment to the Constitution is the prerogative of Parliament but in this case, it was introduced through a Presidential proclamation. Presidential office, although very respected, doesn’t enjoy that power. That is the crux, it is a technical issue.

Q. Your former ally, the Peoples Democratic Party, says that BJP leaders make statements about doing away with 370 and 35A but let them come to the Valley and say it. Isn’t it true that you say something else there? Will you accept this challenge?

Valley is very much a part of India. What we say in Delhi or Srinagar or wherever, we say the same thing. I have said it myself. Sometimes media picks up a statement which is convenient for them, to say no, no, somebody has taken a slightly moderate stand. Our stand is very clear and we are committed to removing it.

Q. In retrospect, when you think of it, as one of the architects of the BJP-PDP alliance, was it a mistake?

A. There was a peculiar political mandate in 2014 which created a situation where there was no alternative to these two parties coming together and forming the government. Otherwise, it was going to be President’s rule again and elections again. We felt since there was a mandate by the people, why not respect it, we attempted a coalition. We had a common minimum programme that spelt out our differences also… Remember, there was no compulsion to leave the government excepting the fact that in the larger national interest, we felt that continuing in that government is not serving the larger cause of the country. We simply walked out. We did not make any compromises.

Q. There seems to be a divergence of opinion. The Prime Minister said so because he called the alliance “a mahamilawat’’ (grand adulteration)?

A. No no, Prime Minister did say that there was a mandate, a peculiar mandate, which ought to be respected by everybody. That’s why we attempted it. Ultimately we felt that no, we cannot.

I think the word he used is “mahamilawat.” So he obviously thinks it was a complete mistake?

No no, you are only taking one sentence of his interview. Prime Minister Modiji was very much part of the decision and he was there when the government was formed. So there is no question of anybody saying that the whole effort was wrong.

Q. Nitish Kumar bringing out a resolution against Article 35A right now, isn’t that problematic? Going into an election where numbers could go any which way, isn’t this something that could break you?

A. Firstly, things are not going to go any which way. They are only going in one direction of PM Modi returning to power with absolute majority at the centre. Number 2, these are not new things. These convictions are not our alliance partners. In any case, we will cross this bridge when we reach. We are not worried about it.

I wanted to ask you about former PM Dr Manmohan Singh saying that there were multiple surgical strikes. PM Modi has now said that by saying this, he’s just being “Me too’’. Some people feel that is playing down the achievements of the soldiers or service people who were involved.

Firstly, let the Congress party now stop criticising us for politicising the actions of the military. Now that their own former Prime Minister came forward to say they did, or so and so did. I have seen army giving a reply last year that they did not give any regard to surgical strikes all these years. Army doesn’t know, nation doesn’t know, Parliament doesn’t know, only known to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Such mysterious surgical strikes if they happened, we do not know.

Q. You have said you don’t need kingmakers, you are feeling very comfortable. But where will you get the numbers?

A. First of all, we have the King so we do not need any Kingmakers. (In the Northeast), BJP’s strength will at least double. We are hoping to get 14-15 seats for the BJP plus with our alliance partners, we will get 20 out of 25 seats. In Assam, we are hoping to win all 10 seats we have contested. We are getting many seats from Odisha and Bengal and Karnataka is going to give us more seats. We are hoping to pick up more seats in Telangana where we have one but we might pick up a couple more. So overall we are not expecting any big losses.

Q. In case it doesn’t work, are you in touch with Biju Janata Dal, Telangana Rashtra Samithi, Jagan Reddy of the YSR Congress?

A. Our best case scenario is 2014 performance, our worst case scenario is together with the National Democratic Alliance. We will get 300 seats.

Courtesy: Hindustan Times