Udhamsinghnagar MP and Former Chief Minister Bhagat Singh Koshyari alias Bhagatda is wielding immense influence on the politics of the poll-bound state. A former Union minister and Rajya Sabha member, Satpal Maharaj’s name is doing the rounds in the political circles as a probable chief minister with the party’s top brass having chosen to keep options open. In an Interview with dainik nation bureau Bhagatda dwelt on a string of subjects ranging from the upcoming poll to his views on the moving political trajectory of the mountain state. However, though in roundabout way through cryptic comments, he has made it abundantly clear that he is far from happy with the Central leadership running the poll show while making the state leaders to play only the second fiddle to it. Excerpts.
Q–The chief minister Harish Rawat playing caste and regional cards with aplomb, many think you are the best card for BJP to counteract the CM’s crafty strategy. Do you think that you are in chief ministerial race, supposing that BJP would come to power?
BSK—There is no scope for ‘supposing’. BJP is all set to come to power and with a thumping majority too. The question that remains relevant is whether we would get a two-third majority.
Q—Does it mean that party is winning and the credit goes to the state leaders, including you?
BSK—No. If the party wins the credit would go to the BJP’s central leadership and the workers fighting the poll battle right from the ground. We are nowhere in the picture. Actually, the central leadership selects the candidates and the party workers work to ensure victory of the candidates thus chosen. It means that while the central leaders are aware of the credibility of the candidates the workers have grass-root connect with the people who would finally decide things.
Q—These days, a number of Congress leaders have switched to BJP with the former Congress chief minister Vijay Bahuguna in the lead. Does it mean that Bahuguna’s stature in the BJP is on the rise while the stature of the former CMs from BJP is on the decline?
BSK—It is a fact known to all that Bahuguna joined BJP along with several sitting MLAs, including two cabinet ministers Yashpal Arya and Harak Singh Rawat. It makes it crystal clear that he has a good control over the MLAs who crossed over to BJP. Things should be seen from an objective perspective. However, you may ask whether the party rank and file is accepting him as their leader.
Q—Does it not mean that if the party loses you would not be held responsible?
BSK—Again you are using word ‘if’. I told you categorically that the party would win hands down and the credit for it would go to the central leadership.
Q—It seems that the party cadre is confused over their being coerced to work for the candidates who they criticised hard until recently when they were in the other party. I mean the Congress turncoats who are now in the fray as BJP candidates.
BSK— The BJP is an ideology- based party with the people from other camps joining it being impressed with the particular ideology we profess. It is a good sign that the leaders of the parties deemed as our arch rivals are now acknowledging the efficacy of the ideology we abide by. However, the case of Bahuguna and his team is entirely different. They actually revolted against the autocratic style of functioning of chief minister Harish Rawat. Pushed to the wall, they decided to quit Congress and join BJP. We welcomed them. We knew the predicament they were in while in the Congress. Chief minister is a perfect despot. He once bragged infamously that na khata na bahi Jo bole Harish Rawat wo hi sahi (neither ledger nor account but whatever Harish Rawat says is the truth). By welcoming them, the party has expanded its horizon. There is nothing wrong in it. This happens in life and politics is part of life. As far as Bahuguna and his team are concerned they are well-educated people. Some of them sacrificed the ministerial posts to cross over to BJP.
Q—Do you mean that they (dissident Congress leaders) have switched to BJP while listening to the deeper call of their hearts?
BSK—I told you that being well- educated people, they might have weighed the pros and cons before they switched sides.
Q—What is your take of the opinion doing the rounds in the BJP state circles that the entry of the cabinet minister Yashpal Arya into BJP has hurt the interests of the party?
BSK—I can hardly agree. Arya is a very senior leader. He served the state as the Speaker as well as a minister. He has come along with a large number of followers. It is for you to analyse things. But I am sure that the party is winning and that is all.
Q—Your party has fielded former MP Satpal Maharaj while denying ticket to the former BJP state president and the sitting MLA Teerath Singh Rawat. Take it with the fact that BJP election in-charge JP Nadda has recently said that the chief minister would be selected from amongst the newly elected MLAs. Does it mean that the party has already chosen Maharaj as the CM in case the party wins and he gets elected?
BSK—Maharaj desired to contest from a constituency in Pauri district where he comes from. As far as Nadda’s comment is concerned there is nothing wrong in it. CM should ideally be chosen from among the members of the house. He is a formidable leader with a massive mass following. He was preferred over the sitting MLA, given his seniority. It speaks of the far- sightedness of our central leadership. We are here to execute the assignments given to us by the central parliamentary board of the party. We are merely doing it.
Q– We have heard that your party candidates are demanding cash instead of star campaigners. Does it mean that BJP, despite ruling at the centre, is a bankrupt party?
BSK—It is true that the BJP candidates are desperately demanding cash. It is also true that since the demonetisation, the party leaders as well as the workers are short of cash. This is a good thing. It means that despite ruling at the Centre, ours is a cash-crunched party.