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When it comes to connecting with the people, we have skipped the Internet age. We are directly at the SMS stage. Almost every village is connected. There is a huge amount of mobile subscribers and we text each other to keep in touch.
When you stepped out after lunch, there were so many people jostling to get close to you and pass on chits to you. What kinds of requests do you, an MP, often get?
I get mostly local panchayat-level stuff. Some 85 per cent of requests would be police cases. The rest would be some revenue case. I forward it to the higher authorities because it obviously hasn't been followed up at the local level. The authorities then forward it to the local levels and it is fairly quickly done then.
Being somebody's son also helped. But getting elected is up to the people. My father can't get me elected. My acumen and connectivity with the people is what will get me elected.
We heard about some of the things that you have dome for the party. What are some of the things that you couldn't achieve?
I couldn't finish the water projects. They have been implemented, but not finished. It is actually ridiculous it took so long. That is what frustrates me. (Barmer is largely desert dotted with small settlements. When asked what ails their town, water scarcity is the first and sometimes only thing people mention.)
A lot has been said about your efforts to modernise madrassas. How did it happen?
When I was floating around here as a losing candidate, I noticed that there are a huge number of people who depend on the madrassas. I felt why deny them an opportunity to experience the mainstream and they too connected to the ideas and were open to it. The idea was also to dispel the myth of what a madrassa is.
My idea of a representative of the people is to represent everyone. I can't do it by dividing people.
The Muslims say they vote for you on individual merit. They do not associate you with your party. For a leader like you, youngish and liberal minded, does it bother that there exists a lunatic fringe in your party?
I don't think the party believes in any of the programmes associated with it in popular perception. This lunatic right wing fringe that you mention doesn't exist within the party.
I haven't seen it in 10 years that I have been with the party.
People may be espousing weird ideas, but they are not inside the party. They may be using the party's name.
What about incidents like Mangalore and people like Sri Ram Sene leader Pramod Muthalik? The party didn't dissociate from him for a long time.
Even if denial came on the same day, the perception is already made. In fact, in Muthalik's case, the denial came on the first day itself. But you did not hear it or were not prepared to hear it.
I am aware of how perceptions are formed and made. The party can deny it. But people who want to believe it will, and those who do not want to won't. You can't change that.
The renunciation was forced. It was not a voluntary thing. The whole world knows it was false.