Buoyed by the results of exit polls that gave the Bharatiya Janata Party an edge in the Maharashtra assembly elections, State unit chief Devendra Fadnavis said the party would form the Government in the State. In an interview before the final results came in, Fadnavis, a leading contender for the Chief Minister’s post, spoke on the party’s performance. Edited excerpts:
Was the BJP really prepared to go solo?
I must admit that after the alliance broke with the Shiv Sena, our party was not ready. It was a big challenge. However, we decided to convert the challenge into an opportunity. We were aware that there was strong resentment against the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party. We decided to exploit it.
How did your party run its campaign?
As we knew that voters were displeased and angry with the 15-year rule of the Congress and NCP combine, we worked out our campaign to appeal to voters that the BJP can be the best alternative. Modi played a crucial role. By addressing 27 rallies across the State, Modi and our party were successful to convince voters that the party can provide the best alternative. Here is the party which is led by a strong leader like Modi, monitored and guided by Modi. We approached voters on a positive agenda.
What are the factors which helped the BJP put up a good fight?
We succeeded in projecting the BJP as a strong national party, which can play a crucial role in the State too. Credit goes to Modi. Besides, BJP president Amit Shah equally deserves the credit. Shah empowered party leaders who were accountable for the jobs assigned to them during the campaign. It worked well. Due to the active role of the central leaders, we were able to put up a good fight and also address a number of rallies. Even I could address 60 rallies, as I was sure about the guidance and support from the central leaders. (If the BJP become victorious), it will be a mandate for the strong leadership of Prime Minister Modi, effective poll management of Amit Shah, collective State leadership and more important to the party’s development agenda.
Your former ally, Shiv Sena, and other parties attacked Modi during campaign. What is your response?
Modi and our party leaders spoke 30 per cent on the Congress-NCP Government in their speeches, and its involvement in corruption, while 70 per cent focus was on the party’s development vision, what the party can do for the country and for Maharashtra. Ironically, the Sena entered our rivals’ trap and stepped up their attack against Modi. The Sena wasted its energy in targeting Modi instead of exposing the Congress-NCP Government’s scams and misrule.
Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray attacked Modi personally. Do you think it should have been avoided?
Of course. These remarks had not gone down well with the voters.
So, are you ready to become the Maharashtra chief minister?
(Laughs) I am president of State unit. The decision on the chief ministerial candidate will be taken by the party’s parliamentary board. I must confess here that I am ready to accept any decision taken by our parliamentary board.
The BJP had taken on the Congress and NCP on corruption. Will your Government order probe into scams during their tenure?
Our Government will certainly investigate corruption cases and various scams surfaced during the Congress-NCP rule. However, our Government will not indulge in political vendetta and the probe will be free and fair.