In exclusive interview to The Sentinel, State BJP president Siddhartha Bhattacharjee exudes confidence of propelling the party to 'absolute majority' in 2016
By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, July 10: 126 seats and over 3,000 applications for tickets! Faced with a problem of plenty, the BJP has come up with an innovative idea to zero in on the best suitable candidate for the 2016 assembly elections. The party will conduct a survey in the constituencies through an independent agency and gauge the hold of the applicants at the grass-roots in their respective constituencies, State unit president Siddhartha Bhattacharjee told The Sentinel in an interview. Bhattacharjee also stated that tickets could also go to people who had not applied, but the fil decision will be taken by the Central and State election committees after extensive consultations with its sister organizations. The State BJP president also did not rule out a pre-poll or post-poll alliance with "like-minded" parties. Following are excerpts of the interview.
Q: What will be the BJP's campaign strategy in the assembly elections? Which issues will take centre-stage in the campaign?
A: Of course, the corruption and misrule of the Congress government during its 15 year rule will be one of the major issues we will take to the people. However, we will stress on positive campaign. We will highlight the changes we intend to bring about. We will project our vision vis-à-vis various issues afflicting the State. For example, we will tell voters how we plan to resolve the State's power crisis, the perennial flood and erosion problem etc. Development and security will be our major poll planks.
Q: Over 3,000 aspirants have applied for tickets. How do you plan to go about the candidate selection process?
A: Yes, there are over 3,000 applicants. The Central committee has roped in an independent agency which will conduct a survey in each constituency to ascertain the hold of each applicant in their respective constituencies. The agency will submit a report to the Central committee. Secondly, the Central and State election committees will hold extensive discussions with the party's sister organizations on the issue of candidate selection. We will also hold face-to-face sittings with the aspirants, before filizing the candidates.
Q: Given the huge number of aspirants, are you apprehensive of a revolt from those who fail to get tickets?
A: Every applicant will be told in detail what criteria were adopted in filizing the candidate. We will try to convince the other aspirants as to why the candidate who got the ticket was given precedence… about the edge he or she has, and why others were rejected. If even after that, anyone indulges in anti-party activities, we will take a stern view and the party will be strict.
Q: Is there a possibility that the party may give tickets to persons who have not applied at all?
A: Yes, there could be some in that category as well. A lot of factors will come into play.
Q: Some issues continue to perturb the party, like big dams, infiltration, the reported change in Central funding pattern and slashing of funds. The Congress has been targeting the BJP on these issues accusing it of U-turns. Will these issues affect your poll prospects?
A: A technical expert committee is already looking into the big dam issue. The government will proceed on the issue on the basis of its report. I persolly do not think that the committee will give an anti-people or anti-Assam report. On the infiltration issue, one must admit that influx has come down after the BJP came to power at the Centre. The prime Minister and the party is firm that all those infiltrators who entered Assam after 1971 must go. But at the same time, we must ensure that no genuine Indian citizen is harassed in the process. Regarding the funding pattern, the government has formed a committee headed by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The committee has not submitted its report and the government is yet to take a fil call in this regard. It has been a propaganda by the Congress to mislead people on the issue. You have seen that the NITI Aayog has been functioning better than the Planning Commission. The share of states in central taxes has also been increased from 32 per cent to 42 per cent.
Q: In the current assembly, you have just six seats. You need 64 seats to form the government. How will it be possible?
A: It is my job to make the impossible possible. Before the Lok Sabha elections last year, the State BJP unit had just 2.5 lakh members. Today, we have more than 25 lakh members. How has this been possible? In fact, percentagewise, the Assam BJP unit has recorded the highest increase in the number of members among all the states in the country. We are confident of getting absolute majority.
Q: Are you open to a poll alliance?
A: So far there has been no discussion on the issue, not has the BJP got any proposal from any party. However, if any proposal comes from a like-minded party, we will definitely discuss it. But our primary job now is to strengthen the BJP in the State.