Bharatiya Janata Party's leader Sushma Swaraj will contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections from Bhopal or Vidisha constituency in Madhya Pradesh. The final decision about her nomination will be taken by the party's central election committee on February 26, she told rediff.com's Onkar Singh in an exclusive interview.
The Lok Sabha elections are round the corner. What is your reading of the political situation?
The situation is in our favour. The Congress has lost 12 elections and won only two. If they say that their mood is upbeat because of winning these two elections, then what about the 12 times when they have been defeated?
As far as the BJP is concerned, we are preparing ourselves on almost all fronts. Advaniji is addressing a string of rallies during his Vijay Sankalp Yatra in various states and he is receiving a tremendous response. Our campaign has taken off and even in terms of selecting candidates, we are way ahead of the Congress. BJP workers are determined to go all out.
You are one of the few BJP leaders willing to contest the LS polls. Most leaders are looking for a backdoor entry via the Rajya Sabha.
The Rajya Sabha is the house of elders and it would be demeaning to say that. Many BJP leaders besides me are also contesting the LS polls including Rajnath Singh, Dr Murali Manohar Joshi and Yashwant Sinha. Senior leaders like Ravi Shankar Prasad and Rajiv Pratap Rudy also want to contest the Lok Sabha polls.
Why did you throw out Vijay Kumar Malhotra?
Nobody threw him out. The party merely endorsed his decision that he would perform better as a member of legislative assembly from Delhi.
There has been a lot of mud slinging between Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi? What is your take on that?
Everyone has his or her own style. There must have been some provocation for Modi to make such remarks. I think the firmness in one's stance can be conveyed in a different manner, without being indecent or using harsh words.
How do you rate Rahul as a politician? Has he grown in the last five years?
I think it is the media's job to talk about him. To be a leader, you have to travel through the entire length and breadth of the country. You need to khapao (adjust) with the masses before becoming their leader.
A leader is not born out of the blue. You have to know the pulse of the people from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and from Gujarat to Guwahati. You have to relate yourself with them and only then does one become a leader.
You have been a fierce critic of Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
That issue has been settled. She cannot claim to have numbers on her side to be the prime minister.
What is going to be the thrust of the BJP campaign?
The United Progressive Alliance government came to power after making promises for the common man. Our question is -- what has this government done for the aam adami? The price rise has hit the common man, who is struggling to maintain the kitchen budget. The government claims that the inflation figure has come down to 4.2 per cent, but the common man is not bothered.
The second most important thing is the safety of the common man.
Will you miss (former prime minister) Atal Bihari Vajpayee during the campaign?
He is an icon. He was our chief campaigner. We will miss him and his unique style of campaigning. We are praying that he recovers enough to address one or two rallies for the BJP.
Congress leaders say that while Advani will remain the prime-minister-in-waiting, Sushma Swaraj will steal the show?
We believe in the Hindu culture, according to which the question of succession does not arise while the father is alive. Advaniji is our undisputed leader and as long as he is around, none of us can even think of becoming the PM. Our total target in this election is to make Advaniji the next prime minister.
How many seats do you expect to win this time?
Between 190 to 200 seats.
Your partners in the National Democratic Alliance don't seem to get along with the BJP?
We will emerge as the single-largest party. Other issues depend on post poll alliances.