L K Advani, the prime ministerial candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party, says that his party's manifesto for the coming Lok Sabha elections is aimed at achieving the party's envisioned ideal state -- the Ram Rajya. Interacting with reporters while announcing the party's election manifesto, the senior BJP leader also touched upon issues like its promises of good governance and the emergence of the Third Front. Excerpts:
Your party was criticised for inviting the prime minister for a television debate. The Left parties even said the BJP was trying to push the political system to a two-party system. What is your opinion on this?
I do not know why our course of action which seeks to strengthen democracy and enables us to communicate with people should bother others. If this means pushing the Indian polity to a two-party system, all the better it is. The BJP can claim to be a party which in the last sixty years has single-handedly challenged the dominant party in the country and created a system of bi-polar politics.
What do you have to say on the emergence of the Third Front?
There is no scope for a Third Front. It is a farcical illusion. No Third Front can survive without the support of either the BJP or the Congress. Also it is a sad situation at the end of the Congress, where all its allies have deserted it. The United Progressive Alliance is non-existent.
How sure are you about the acceptability of the contentious issues like the Ram temple by your allies in the National Democratic Alliance?
You should know that our partners in the NDA had in the past agreed to go by the court judgment on the Ram temple issue. Last time, the NDA manifesto had said that either the court judgment or any amicable solution arrived between the two communities through negotiations would be implemented in letter and spirit. In fact, the Chandrashekhar government had even taken a step forward.
What would the BJP do with Sachar Committee (on the social, economic and educational status of Muslims) report in case it comes to power?
I regard the Sachar Committee report as an eye-opener for the country. Through its revelations the Congress had to finally accept that the condition of Muslims had not improved in all the years it had ruled the country. It is, after all, the duty of every government to see that every citizen gets justice.
The BJP has apparently shifted its focus from Hindutva-related issues. It is a deliberate and major shift?
If you look at the past, rashtravad (nationalism) had always been our agenda. I often tell people that for us, words like Indianness, Hindutva and nationalism are synonymous. If I have to describe the BJP in terms of its ideology, I would say we are the 'mation-first' party.
Your manifesto does not mention corruption.
Corruption is a big issue, particularly after what we saw in Parliament last year (display of money allegedly paid to MPs). Our performance in the field of probity would be judged by our actions. Anyway, the good governance, which we are promising, would take care of the corruption.
Do your agree that Varun Gandhi is emerging as a bigger Hindutva leader?
These are the categories created by you people. I have nothing to say on this.
Why is the prime minister angry with you?
I can make out why he is so upset with me. Because I believe that in a democracy the prime minister's post is sacrosanct. I openly said this and also that this prime minister had devalued this post.
What will be your first job after becoming the prime minister -- to hang Afzal Guru (convict in the Parliament attack case) or Ajmal Kasab (the Pakistani terrorist lodged in a Mumbai jail)?
Is it mandatory for me to make a choice between the two of them? I have lots of other works to do.