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Rediff.com  » Election » 'Constructing Ram temple is not the BJP's business'

'Constructing Ram temple is not the BJP's business'

May 04, 2009 13:36 IST
L Ganesan is president of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Tamil Nadu. He is also the party's candidate from the prestigious South Chennai constituency. The BJP is virtually fighting a lonely battle this time with only a few fringe parties as its companions.

While the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam stuck with the Congress, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam ignored the BJP and chose to be with the Third Front.

Ganesan spoke to Shobha Warrier about his chances and also his party's prospects in Tamil Nadu and at the Centre.

How disadvantageous is it for the BJP to fight alone, without the help of the two formidable Dravidian alliances?

We had decided long back that the BJP would face the elections on its own. We are not contesting in all the constituencies, but only in limited ones where we have enough work-force to take care of the constituencies.

What you need to win the elections is public support. Even in Tamil Nadu, many people tell us that (BJP prime ministerial candidate L K) Advani will be the next prime minister. But people should understand that this is a parliamentary election and it is not to select (DMK chief ) Karunanidhi or (AIADMK chief) Jayalalithaa that elections are being held now.

This is a fight between (Congress chief) Sonia Gandhi or the puppet of Sonia Gandhi and L K Advani.

In most places, ordinary people take local issues into consideration while voting even for Lok Sabha elections. Is that not the reason regional parties are getting stronger and stronger?

I divide the voters into two categories. One category comprises those who are economically and socially at the lower level. Because of the way they suffer, only local issues matter to them. Freebies are announced to attract them.

The second category comprises voters from middle and upper middle classes, government servants, retired officers, and educated people. Majority of these people do not go out and vote. I am targeting this group.

How will you bring these people out of their homes to the polling booth?

That is why I have started an e-campaign. I want these people to understand that they should also decide the destiny of the country. Unfortunately, the educated don't have that social consciousness. Through rediff.com, I want to appeal to this section: Please Vote!

What is it about the party that may appeal to this section?

The BJP is the only political party that is different. Have you heard of a single corruption charge during Atal(Bihari Vajpayee)ji's period? Is there any blemish in our present prime ministerial candidate?

After the Mumbai attacks, people are more worried about the security of the country. They are confident only about Advaniji and (Gujarat Chief Minister) Narendra Modi. What Modi did in Gujarat, Advani will do for the whole country.

These are some of the things that make these people have faith in the BJP. They will definitely come and vote for us. I am counting on them.

In Tamil Nadu, what issues will you take up?

Price rise is the major issue across the country. Threat to life is the next. In South Chennai, we are the only national political party.

The other parties like the DMK are not going to form the government; they may be a part of an alliance. The AIADMK is contesting for bargaining power. (Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam chief and movie star) Vijayakanth is contesting to split the votes.

How big will be the Sri Lankan issue in this election?

It is a big issue -- an emotional issue for the people. The Sri Lankan Tamils issue is agitating the minds of all people in Tamil Nadu. That is why at the last minute, Jayalalithaa undertook a fast. The Congress also started collecting medicines.

What is the BJP stand on the Sri Lankan Tamil issue?

We want a ceasefire immediately. In the name of attacking the LTTE, the Sri Lankan government is killing innocent people; their own people. At no cost can we allow this. There is no question of the BJP supporting the LTTE. At the same time, we cannot tolerate the killing of innocent people.

Is the Ram Sethu an emotional issue for the BJP? The BJP had once accepted the project.

When Atalji was the prime minister, in principle, he agreed to implement the Sethu Samudram canal project. Finally, when we left office, it was decided to implement the 4th alignment, which is without disturbing Ram Sethu.

When the new government came, they changed the route and wanted to demolish the Ram Sethu. We opposed it and the opposition grew when people like Karunanidhi questioned Ram and many other things. Suddenly, the whole country became alert and it became a national issue.

Now they are not uttering a single word about Ram; they will not dare to till the elections are over.

In our manifesto, we have said we would declare the Ram Sethu as a national monument. So, Ram Sethu is an issue.

Your manifesto also talks about a Ram temple at Ayodhya. In today's times, how relevant is building a temple there?

The Ram temple is always relevant. Constructing the Ram temple is not the business of the BJP. There is an organisation preparing for it after the judgment is out.

Is it as important as removing poverty?

Man needs both mundane and emotional things in life. We are not asking people to suffer for the temple. What is this Ram temple? It was the Ram Janmabhoomi. There are thousands and thousands of Ram temples in India, but there he was born only in one place. We will feel proud if we can construct a Ram temple there.

Do you think the Ram Sene's activities will affect the BJP?

We have nothing to do with the Ram Sene. They have even put up a candidate against the BJP. At the same time, we do not approve of celebrating events like Valentine's Day and all that. Unfortunately, this new culture has crept into our country.

We don't accept what the Ram Sene did, but we don't accept pub culture either.

Is that not infringing upon personal freedom? What has the State got to do with personal celebration?

You can do whatever you want in your house. But if you do all this outside, we will not tolerate.

What is happening on New Year's Day? If the atma (soul) of this country is lost, its identity will go.

Are you saying that if the BJP comes to power, you will put an end to pub culture?

No, we will educate the people.