‘Mission 350 for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections is just a term coined by the media, BJP President Amit Shah has said adding that the party actually wants to expand and reach every poll booth across the country.
Shah, in an interview with CNN-News18, spoke about a range of issues, including how the BJP was expanding its base in West Bengal, Odisha, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and the country’s northeast region.
“Yes, it is certain that the party wants to expand. We are doing our groundwork well and I am sure that we will achieve electoral success in these states,” Shah said.
With the party already having 11 crore members across the country, Shah was asked what was in it for him. The BJP President shot back: “I have no personal agenda.”
“The party had an agenda of taking the BJP to every booth in the country. If I had thought about the future, I would not be where I am right now. I have achieved this only because I never thought about (my personal) future. I just keep on working, and I try and fulfil whatever responsibility the party gives me.”
He said the BJP in its three years of rule had dumped “caste, nepotism and appeasement” — the three aspects governing Indian politics hitherto.
“Now, however, under the able leadership of (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi, India has seen tremendous development and change. The three aspects I mentioned have been dumped by the citizens of the country. The BJP has always focused on performance-based politics and, on the basis of this, democracy has a new vision and direction.
“This is the reason why we have been successful. We have only concentrated on performance, nothing else. There have been controversies, but we have never been affected by it. We have our eyes set firmly on the target. Making politics of performance the central point in Indian polity has been our biggest plus-point.”
Asked about the problems BJP was facing in conducting rallies in West Bengal, Shah asserted that the Mamata Banerjee government denying permission to hold events would not work as “starting from Indira Gandhi, many leaders have tried to suppress voices but it has not happened”.
“I will go to Bengal for sure and conduct an event,” he said.
On the party’s expansion strategy in Bengal and Odisha, Shah said that in both states the BJP has emerged as the principal opposition and added that he sees anti-incumbency in both states, “which is favourable to the principal opposition”.
On springing surprises with the choice of candidates, be it President Ramnath Kovind or Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu’s candidature, Shah said the BJP has “always worked like this”.
“The BJP has always worked from the party office and not from any leader’s house,” he said in a veiled jibe at the Congress’s functioning where Sonia Gandhi’s residence 10, Janpath is considered its real power centre.
On the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which is perceived to be actually controlling the BJP, Shah said: “The equation is as it should be. The BJP and the RSS have the same equation that a nationalist party should have with the largest nationalist organisation. And it is a good equation.”