Confident of forming the next government in Manipur by two-third majority, Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav feels the Congress is a victim of its own negative mindset and he cant recall one positive thing that the Congress has said since 2014.
In an exclusive interview with IANS, BJP’s Manipur election in-charge Yadav said that over the last five years, the N. Biren Singh-led BJP government has worked towards giving shape to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision for the growth of Manipur.
When asked about BJP’s Chief Ministerial face, Yadav said, “In BJP, we follow democratic principles in making choices for positions whether within the party or the government. We will make the official announcement when the time comes.”
“Our parliamentary board decides the Chief Minister. But for now, BJP leaders have just one goal in mind. We have to work for Manipur’s development,” Yadav said.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q: How do you see BJP’s chances in Manipur this time?
A: BJP is going to form the government in Manipur once again. We will get a two-third majority.
Q: What are the achievements of the BJP government in the last five years on which the party is seeking re-election?
A: In the last five years, we have seen Manipur emerge from the shadows of insurgency and march on the path of development. The double-engine government with BJP at the Centre and BJP in Manipur helped bring faster development to the state.
The state has seen 10 lakh new bank accounts opened under the Jan Dhan Yojna while 1.56 lakh gas connections have been provided to people under the Ujjwala Yojana. Starting in 2017, Manipur has been electrified. Under the Jal Jeevan Mission, BJP has provided tap water connections to 64 per cent of households in Manipur.
We have taken the initiative to establish the country’s first National Sports University in Imphal. This is a significant step to promote sports, sports education, sports management, and technology.
With Imphal airport getting international status, connectivity of northeastern states with other major cities has been improved. Work is also going on in full swing on the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway. Manipur is also going to get the benefit of the natural gas pipeline being laid in the northeast costing Rs 9,000 crore.
The list is endless and that is why people are supporting us so wholeheartedly.
Q: What are the key issues in the upcoming elections in Manipur?
A: For BJP, there is only one issue and that issue is development. In January you saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi lay the foundation stone for 22 development projects worth Rs 4,815 crore. The Prime Minister, as you know, has a special place in his heart for the northeast and that is why he remains committed to providing the people of Manipur unprecedented development which is in sync with their cultural ethos.
Over the last five years, the N. Biren Singh-led BJP government has worked towards giving shape to Prime Minister Modi’s vision for the growth of Manipur. We are telling people about what we have done in the past five years. Ours is a positive campaign which is focused. And why not? We have done a lot of work.
Q: Why did the NPP leave the alliance?
A: This question, I believe, should be posed to the NPP. But since you are asking me, I think each party thinks about its own future and decides. Maybe they thought contesting elections with us would overshadow them since they are a smaller party. But in BJP, we respect regional parties as they represent regional aspirations.
Q: Is there any possibility of joining hands with the NPP after the polls?
A: I began this interview by saying that we are coming to power with a two-third majority. On March 10, you will see the results yourself.
Q: Trinamool Congress is also challenging you in Manipur like in Goa. Do you see Trinamool as a challenger in Manipur?
A: No. India is a strong democracy. Anyone can contest from anywhere but just because someone is contesting doesn’t mean they become a challenge. Trinamool has no base in Manipur. There is no challenger for us in Manipur. And I say this with full humility. We are winning because of the work we have done under Prime Minister Modi’s vision and Biren Singh’s leadership.
Q: AFSPA is a major issue in the northeast and it did not find a mention in BJP’s manifesto. Your take
A: India’s sovereignty and security are major issues and so is the peace and prosperity of India’s people. We care for Manipur and we will work for the region’s peace and security.
Q: What would you say on the speculation about the future Chief Minister doing rounds in the absence of an official announcement?
A: It is the media’s job to speculate. Within the party, all we are thinking about is the work we need to do for Manipur after March 10. In BJP, post is not important. We are a team. We call ourselves the ‘Bhajpa Parivar’. In BJP, we follow democratic principles in making choices for positions whether within the party or the government. We will make the official announcement when the time comes.
Q: Who will be the Chief Minister if BJP wins, Biren Singh or someone else?
A: Biren Singh has done commendable work for the state. Under him since 2017, the state has seen growth and peace. He has given shape to Prime Minister Modi’s vision for the state. In the party, we follow a process in choosing leaders. Our parliamentary board decides the Chief Minister. But for now, BJP leaders have just one goal in mind. We have to work for Manipur’s development.
Q: The opposition, especially the Congress, is alleging that no development has taken place in the state in the last five years and unemployment has increased under BJP’s rule. What would you say on this?
A: The Congress is a victim of its own negative mindset. I can’t recall one positive thing the Congress has said since 2014. That is why people do not believe them. People are seeing development and voting for us.
Q: Congress is alleging poaching of their MLAs after the elections. How do you react to Congress’ allegation?
A: No Congress MLA is going to win. So that will save them from poaching.
Q: What would you say about infighting in the party after ticket distribution?
A: People have aspirations. That is a healthy thing. Some may think that they deserve a ticket and the party leadership may think otherwise. This is par for the course. Those who do not get tickets can feel wronged. But the media makes the whole thing look bigger than it is. In BJP, there is discipline and commitment to ideology. We are not a party where tickets are for sale.
(Shashi Bhushan be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)