Ahmedabad: Following are excerpts of senior BJP leader and Union Home Minister Amit Shah's interview to PTI where he answered questions on a range of issues, including Gujarat polls, anti-radicalisation measures, the party's growth and changes in education.
Q. How do you see AAP as a political force, its announcement of populist measures and what will it achieve in Gujarat state assembly polls?
A. Every party has the right to work in any part of the country, but it is up to the people whether they accept the party or not. Wait for the election results, maybe AAP’s name would not figure in the list of successful candidates.
And people also know that if someone makes promises more than the budget, they cannot be fulfilled. AAP is nowhere in the minds of the people of Gujarat.
Q. The Opposition has accused the government of misusing investigation agencies against its political opponents.
A. There is an independent and neutral judiciary in the country, and if there is any misuse of investigative agencies, they can approach the judiciary.
Q. The Popular Front of India (PFI) was banned by the government - what was the need?
A. The Modi government decided to ban PFI after gathering a lot of information and proof related to their anti-national activities, especially their activities to push youths towards terrorism by radicalising them.
Such activities clearly mention their intentions and their objectives, and several states have demanded a ban on the PFI.
Such activities by any organisation will not be tolerated by the Modi government. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a policy of zero tolerance towards terrorism and radicalisation.
Q. Recently, the BJP announced the formation of anti-radical cells in its manifesto for the Gujarat assembly polls. Will a similar measure be taken in other BJP-ruled states?
A. The BJP’s Gujarat unit has taken a good initiative and let it get materialised first. It will be given a shape; its working mechanism will be decided.
Radicalisation should be checked not only in Gujarat but in the entire country. We all should try to check radicalisation as it is not good for society and the country. And it can be considered at the national level and in other states.
Radicalisation has nothing to do with any sect but we all know which forces are promoting radicalisation. And the entire world is concerned about it.
Q. In the Gujarat election, national issues are being raised. What was the need for raising national issues in a state poll?
A. Is the security of Gujarat associated with national security or not? Security of Gujarat and national security are not different issues.
And if the country is not secure, how can Gujarat be secure? Therefore, national security is a major issue in all state assembly polls.
We cannot afford to have national security impacted at any one location in the country. And being a border state, the people of Gujarat are sensitive about national security. But we have lived up to their expectations.
Q. As you said national security is a major issue, do people get influenced by it or not? Or issues like inflation matter more to them.
A. See my job is to put forward my message. I try to convey my message to people. The results will tell whether the public accepts it or not.
And inflation is a global challenge. India is the least impacted by it and I am confident that India will effectively tackle this problem.
Q. Law and order in Gujarat is being discussed and raised by BJP continuously during electioneering.
A. It is our achievement that there is no law and order issue in the border state of Gujarat. We are explaining and telling people that because they reposed faith in the BJP, there are no such issues here.
Q. The BJP has been focusing on its expansion in southern and eastern states, but it is still not able to form a government in states like Kerala and West Bengal.
A. Our vote share in West Bengal has jumped to 40 percent and the BJP won 18 Lok Sabha seats. It will further improve its tally in the next Lok Sabha polls and will form a government in near future.
Our vote share has increased in Odisha. In Telangana, we have become the main opposition party. We will perform well in Andhra Pradesh. Party is doing well in Tamil Nadu. The expansion of cadre-based parties is not possible overnight. It takes time but we are doing well in these states.
Q. You have been emphasising on giving technical education in Hindi and regional languages. What is the need for it?
A. Technical, medical, and law all should be taught in Hindi and regional languages. All state governments should take initiative to properly translate the curriculum of these three fields of education into regional languages and plan so that students can learn in these three fields in their mother language. This will promote the country’s talent in higher education.
Today we can use only five percent of the country’s talent but with this initiative, we would be able to use 100 percent.
And this five percent comes from an English background. And I have nothing against English as a language per se. It is that 'maulik chintan' (original thinking) of a student can be better in the mother tongue and there is a strong connection between 'maulik chintan' and 'anusandhan' (research).
Q. You say that you are a student of History and have been making several suggestions about the History curriculum.
A. I have appealed to the students of History that they should study 300 such leaders from our past who were ignored by historians and 30 such kingdoms which ruled India for more than 150 years and gave a highly effective model of governance.
Students should study and write about them, and professors should motivate them. Till when will we make a hue and cry on what the historians have written. Now that times have changed in the country, people should know about the real history.
Q. The BJP has been winning elections, but its dependence on the prime minister is increasing.
A. He is our leader, and the party believes that when we have such a popular leader, why should we not contest elections in his name? He is the most popular leader in the country. There is no reason why we should not contest the election in the name of our top leader. And he also leads from the front.
Q. Why does the BJP keep returning to power?
A. If the party and the government keep evolving and adapting as per the expectations of people and changing times. That is what we have done here.
Normally you will see a government will have one or two thrust areas, but here the BJP government under the leadership of Narendra Modi established a model of inclusive and comprehensive development. And people have felt this development.
Q. Where do you see the Congress standing in this Gujarat election?
A. In Gujarat, the Congress is still the main opposition party but it is facing a crisis across the country and its impact is visible in Gujarat.
Q. How many seats will the BJP get in Gujarat?
A. I do not want to get into the number game. This time, the BJP will get unprecedented seats and vote percentage in Gujarat.
Q. How do you see the attempts of bringing all regional parties on one stage?
A. If you look at the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the government he gave in the last eight years, I do not think such alliances will have any impact.
These regional parties do not have anything outside their respective states. See if the Samajwadi Party allies with the Congress, but it has nothing in Gujarat. So, it exists only on paper and is good for headlines.
Q. How do you see Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Yatra and its outcomes?
A. I have always been of the view that politicians need to be hard working and it is good when someone works hard. But in politics only sustained efforts show results. So let's wait and see.
Q. There has been an increase in the number of targeted killings in Jammu and Kashmir. And when can Assembly elections be held?
A. Targeted killings have rather come down. They have come down drastically in recent times.
And as far as Assembly elections are concerned, they can be held after the electoral rolls are ready. And it also depends on when the Election Commission will announce the schedule.