Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu feels that the coming together of the Opposition on the demonetization issue is a non-starter and not a threat to the BJP-led government and rules out any real political realignment before the next Lok Sabha elections.
He also says that this grouping up of Opposition parties, which are “jealous” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity, is opportunistic and will not succeed. “Any political realignment should reflect social realignment or ideological realignment. It can’t be based on opportunism propelled by the desire for power. That’s why it would not succeed,” Naidu said in an interview.
He was responding to a question on the chances of a realignment among political rivals on an anti-BJP plank fuelled by their opposition to the note-ban decision.
Asked about the coming together of these parties in the recent winter session of Parliament that was washed out, he said the Opposition is “jealous” of the popularity of the Prime Minister on account of demonetization. “Initially, they did not stop hailing the move. Then they realised, he is becoming further popular. Then they tried to find holes and slowly build a case against it. And then people in media are saying it has given scope for realignment of the political forces,” Naidu said.
Attacking the Opposition, he said they are not going to people but only to TV studios. “And they are holding joint press conferences and then falling apart. Moreover their obstruction tactics in Parliament are not appreciated by the people,” he said.
Naidu said the grouping of these Opposition parties is bound to fall apart “because there is no ideological unity, there is no unanimity on programme and there is no unanimity on leadership also”.
He added that “Mamataji (Banerjee) wants to project herself. Rahul feels he is the natural claimant to be the leader. Communists and Trinamool cannot go together. So there is no ideological cohesion or availability of a towering personality who has got the moral authority to lead the Opposition.” They are together in their “blind opposition to Modi and NDA,” they are not able to digest the fact that people have given a mandate to Modi and an ordinary man has become the prime minister and he is getting day by day popular, within the country and outside the country, he said.
So they are expressing their frustration as they are not able to do it individually as a party, they are trying to team up, Naidu said.
Otherwise Congress party never bothered to give respect to any regional party, never bothered to give respect to other parties, except as and when they are in crisis, he said. “In order to keep up the morale of their cadre – we are all together, no, no we will have some impact. You media also, when all of them march together to Rashtrapati Bhawan, you cannot ignore the news. That will be a headline. Though there is no common line, it will be the headline,” he said.
He said the rules of politics in the country have significantly changed over the last few years. “People used to say you cannot win elections on developmental agenda. Modiji has shown that you can win elections on the issue of development,” Naidu said. The I&B minister said Modi has proved it in Gujarat and in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, BJP won thrice on developmental agenda.
“We have also won Maharashtra and Jharkhand,” he said. Even after demonetization, in this recent municipal polls, 80 per cent panchayat seats have gone to BJP in Gujarat, he said. “The realignment should reflect the genuine aspirations of the people,” Naidu said, adding that people don’t want empty promises, they want something to happen to improve their living conditions. “Particularly the youth, there is thirst, urge for development. That is why the youth are rallying behind the PM across the country,” he added.
The ground realty is that note ban has found huge support of the common man on the ground, he said. “This is what has rattled Congress and some other parties.Sensible politicians and parties who have their ear to the ground know this fact. Why did Nitish Kumar and Naveen Patnaik support note withdrawal and even called for more measures to address corruption and related issues,” he asked.
Recalling the earlier occasions, Naidu said the Janata experiment came with the purpose of bringing democracy back. “We have seen the United Front which had become a divided front. We have seen a National Front, which had become a notional front. The Third Front experiment also, they remained a poor third. In 1977, the realignment was to get democracy back to the people. But all others were propelled and then ego clashes came…. that’s why the Janata experiment failed,” the senior minister said.
Referring to the talk about realignment of Opposition parties, Naidu said that it will be like a “hot balloon”. “It will go up and then burst. The only realignment what we are witnessing is more and more people coming to support Modi,” he added.
“And we have reports coming from UP, newer sections, people who were keeping distance from BJP earlier, particularly sections of the lowest strata, they are all moving towards BJP after the demonetization or remonetisation. “This will I am sure gain further momentum as the fruits of anti corruption vaccine administered by Modi become visible.”
Accusing the Opposition of blindly opposing demonetization, Naidu said that they first called for ‘Bharat bandh’ and when they found no response, they tried to distance themselves.
Congress said they had never given a call for a bandh as did other parties like TMC, Naidu said. Secondly they gave a call for Aakrosh rally, that too was a flop, he added. “Thirdly now, they are saying they will go to the people. That is the best thing they should do. They should go to the people. We have been going to the people,” Naidu said.
He said the Prime Minister and also BJP chief Amit Shah had been addressing meetings and rallies across the country from Goa to Belgaum to Hyderabad, Uttar Pradesh and northeast.