As the countdown to Uttar Pradesh assembly polls begins, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh says the BJP will win a clear majority in the state. Exuding confidence, Singh, who hails from UP, asserts that the performance of the BJP at the Centre and other states has convinced the people that if there is any government that can deliver good governance, it is the BJP. When asked about him being the possible chief ministerial candidate of UP, Singh brushes aside the reports saying there is no dearth of leaders for the top job.
As home minister, you are holding one of the most important and challenging portfolios in the NDA government. What is your biggest achievement in two years?
The overall internal security situation in the country has improved. Be it Maoism, insurgency or terrorism, if you see the figures over the last 8-10 years, they are at the lowest levels now. Infiltration along the border have also seen a 50 per cent decline. Communal incidents have also come down.
You are popularly called the "troubleshooter" of the BJP government. The opposition Congress has been blocking major bills in Parliament. Do you have a roadmap to end the logjam?
We keep talking to the opposition parties and try to get their cooperation. We are all part of a healthy democracy and in a healthy democracy our constant effort is to take everyone along. If you see, we have cleared a number of bills in the last budget session of Parliament.
Uttar Pradesh is your home state and it will go to polls next year. You are the tallest leader in the NDA government from the state. There are high expectations from you, how would you like to serve people?
We will get a clear majority in UP this time. People's confidence in the BJP has increased. It is only after seeing the performance of the BJP at the Centre and other states that people have reached a unanimous conclusion that if there is any government that can deliver good governance, it is the BJP. And if there is any better alliance, it is the NDA.
If your party makes you the chief ministerial face of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, would you accept it?
I think there are many senior leaders in the state. BJP has no dearth of leaders in UP and the state party organisation is very strong. People still remember the performance of the previous BJP governments in UP.
Among parties like the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samajwadi Party, the Congress and the BJP, people consider the BJP as the only party that can deliver good governance. As far as Congress is concerned, it's political relevance is diminishing not only in Uttar Pradesh but in the entire country.
The SP will be give contest to BJP in some places while BSP in other places.
There are apprehensions that the BJP will polarise voters leading to communal clashes in Uttar Pradesh ahead of the polls next year. What are your views?
The politics of polarisation is being done by the "so-called" secular parties. But if there is any real secular political party in the country, then it is the BJP. We do not do politics on the basis of caste, creed, religion. BJP's politics is based on insaaf (justice) and insaniyat (humanity).
Charges of intolerance and communal politics have stuck with Modi government for two years now. Is it time for an image overhaul?
Such attempts and claims have been punctured. These were all baseless and mischievous allegations being levelled against the BJP. But now the election results in Assam, West Bengal and other states are for everyone to see. BJP has won a clear majority in Assam where there is a huge percentage of minority population. Even in southern states like Kerala, our vote share has drastically gone up. This means that all sections of the society are extending their support to the BJP.
The BJP has opened its account in Kerala and the vote share percentage is in double digits in the state elections for the first time. What reasons do you attribute to this change.
The biggest reason is that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been able to restore people's trust and confidence in our government. Our government has been successful in proving to be a 'decisive' government. There is transparency in decision making and projects are being cleared very fast. During the two-year tenure, not a single charge of corruption has been levelled against this government. Because of our policy initiatives, India is the world's fastest growing economy today.
We have stemmed the loot of natural resources resulting in increased power generation. While earlier projects of building 2,000-km roads had to wait for clearances, we have set a target of constructing of 25,000-30,000km of roads by 2016-17. Our focus is not just urban economy, but also developing the rural economy, development of villages, schemes for farmers and those living below poverty line, and the poor. This government has instilled confidence and hope in people's future by introducing social and economic security schemes like the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna, Jeevan Jyoti Yojana and Atal Pension Yojana.
With BJP's victory in Assam do you think you will find a permanent solution to the problem of Bangladeshi migrants in the state?
To deal with the problem of Bangladeshi migrants we have already taken some measures like strengthening border security and fencing. New methods are being adopted like laser fencing along with deployment of forces. Surveillance system and technological upgradation for effective border management is getting the desired attention. We have regularised the stay of refugees belonging to minority community from Pakistan and Bangladesh before December 2014 by making amendments in the rules.
Who do you think is the ideological adversary of the BJP at the moment? Is it the Congress or the Left parties?
We do not compromise on our ideology. The ideology on which we began our political journey , we are moving forward on that same ideology. I would like to repeat that the basis of our ideology is justice and humanity. We don't consider anyone our adversary. The BJP moto is sabka saath sabha vikas.
Will the BJP be able to snatch Karnataka back in 2018?
Yes, definitely, the BJP will win a clear majority in Karnataka when the assembly elections take place.
Maoists continue to target security forces. Left-wing extremism has been termed as one of the biggest threats to internal security. Do you agree?
We have been able to control threat of Left-wing extremism to a great extent. I think we have managed to bring down such incidents in the country by 35-40 per cent. Development of the Maoist-affected districts is taking place at a fast pace. The Union government has its role but states are expected to discharge their duties as well. And during our tenure, the states have cooperated and helped in bringing down the threat.
New militancy is gaining ground in Jammu and Kashmir where your party is in alliance with the PDP. How are you going to tackle it?
I do not think so. There is a new government in the state and it will take some time. As compared to earlier, the security situation in J&K has improved. The stone pelting incidents have seen a 50 per cent decline and a large number of terrorists have been killed in the state. In the last two years, losses of our security forces in naxal attacks, fighting insurgents or terrorists has come down. Our central security forces and Army jawans are working with full zeal.
Islamic State is posing a major threat across the globe, does the home ministry have a fresh strategy to deal with it?
I am confident India—including the community that believes in Islam, living here—will not allow IS to spread its tentacles. The reason being that Muslims are deeply intertwined in India's tradition and culture. Small incidents can take place here and there but the minority of this country will never want IS to spread its influence. So, we are confident the IS will not pose a major threat to India.
Sadhvi Pragya has been let off by NIA in its chargesheet in the Malegaon 2008 blast case and charges have been diluted against all other accused. The opposition is alleging the NIA did it under political pressure. Your comments.
We consider it our moral responsibility to maintain the autonomy of all the investigating agencies in the country. We do not interfere in the working of autonomous agencies.
The term saffron terror was coined during the UPA rule. How big is the threat from right-wing extremists today?
We do not do politics of polarisation. Terrorism has no colour, religion or caste and whichever government comes to power must work impartially. We do not do politics merely to form governments, but we do politics for nation building. Those who are doing politics of polarisation are the ones who give colour to terrorism.
We have heard you were not very keen on Pakistan's Joint Investigation Team (JIT) visiting India to probe the Pathankot terror strike. Since the JIT team has already visited, a reciprocal visit of the NIA team is now pending. Tell us about the way forward.
Talks have taken place and there is a proposal to send an NIA team to Pakistan but we are awaiting their response. One thing I would like to point out to Pakistan is that there are many international criminals taking shelter there and India has shared documents on many of them but no action has come forth. I would urge the international community to persuade Pakistan and build pressure on it to act against the international criminals. Terrorism is a global concern.
You had said your government will try to bring back Dawood Ibrahim. Can we say this task will be accomplished during your tenure as home minister?
I did not say that but yes, Dawood is an international criminal and in that context whatever dossiers are there, they have been provided to Pakistan. Whatever action has to be taken as per Indian law and international laws, will be taken. But the international community should also play a role here. Today, terrorism has become part of diplomacy and whenever Prime Minister Narendra Modi goes to different countries, terrorism is high on the agenda for discussion.
When does your government propose to hold the chief ministers conference on internal security?
We propose to hold it this year.
When the Naga peace accord was signed, it was said that the home ministry was not in the loop. When can we expect a permanent solution to Naga insurgency?
This is a completely baseless allegation. Such decisions are not taken by making a lot of noise. I believe that the framework agreement with National Socialist Council of Nagaland Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) was a major decision and achievement of this government. Work is progressing fast and I think in the next few months we will be able to complete it.
What are your unfinished tasks in the home ministry?
We are working on border security and border management. Another area of concern is the need to check cyber crime and make the system more robust. Cyber security is a major challenge today not just for India but the entire international community.