May 30, 2001


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The Rediff Interview/BJP President K Jana Krishnamurthy

'There will be no need to whip the Ram agenda'

Bharatiya Janata Party President K Jana Krishnamurthy has denied any indiscipline in the Manipur unit of the party.

The state was plunged into a crisis after the Samata Party-led coalition government lost a vote of confidence on May 21 because BJP legislators voted against the motion. Krishnamurthy, instead, blames the Samata leaders for precipitating the crisis.

He also clarified that there was no move to give Brajesh Mishra -- principal secretary to the prime minister and national security adviser -- a Rajya Sabha ticket from Uttar Pradesh. The state, which is the party's next big challenge, dominated a great length of his conversation with Onkar Singh where Krishnamurthy reiterated that his party would be voted back to power with a thumping majority. Excerpts:

Despite assurances from the BJP, the Samata government still fell in Manipur. Why did this happen?

I would find fault with the Samata leaders. They could not understand the situation in Manipur. It was confusing. Perhaps they were not getting the right signals from their party unit. Perhaps there was some misapprehension that the BJP was trying to bring down their government.

I explained the whole thing to George Fernandes (convenor of the National Democratic Alliance) and others. They understood that whatever happened was due to the local situation. And whatever happened was despite the best intention of the BJP leadership at the Centre.

But the Samata party leaders were angry that their government fell because you did not issue a whip on the day of voting.

I think George Fernandes had not understood the whole situation. The communication gap between him and the NDA has already been sorted out. As far as the party directive to issue a whip to vote in favour of the Radhabinod Koijam government is concerned, the party MLAs told us that they learnt about it much later. By then the whole thing was over.

Don't you think there is a need to discipline your party MLAs in the northeastern states?

You must understand that our original strength was only six. Then two joined us. Then another two. Then 18 others joined us. It is those who joined us later who are the source of trouble. As far as the original six are concerned they are going with the directive of the party's central leadership.

News reports say that Brajesh Misra might get the party's ticket for a Rajya Sabha seat from Uttar Pradesh. Is it true?

No, there is no truth in it. He has not approached the party for a ticket. He has been discharging his duties as principal secretary to the prime minister and as the national security adviser.

In case he does, will he resign from his posts?

There is no question of any such contingency arising at the moment. He was a member of the party when he was appointed to work in the PMO. He resigned before taking the assignment.

In view of the poor performance of the party in the recent assembly polls, do you think the BJP can afford to go in for early polls in Uttar Pradesh?

The question of deciding early polls in UP is not in our hands. We are ready to face the election whenever it is due. As the party president, it is my duty to ensure that if the election is held early for some reason, we should be prepared to take up the challenge.

The earliest we can have the election in UP is November. Otherwise they will be held as scheduled in February next year.

The UP election is important for the BJP as well as the NDA, isn't it?

Of course this is true. Surely we would like to win the election in Uttar Pradesh. Despite the fact that Uttaranchal has been carved out of UP, it still has more than 400 assembly seats.

Would you be whipping up the Ram agenda again to win the election in UP?

There will be no need for this. We have performed well in Uttar Pradesh and on the basis of our performance we should be able to win.

Do you think you have done enough to win in UP solely on the basis of your performance?

Of course we have given a good government to the people of Uttar Pradesh. Whether the media likes it or not, the people of the state will not only assess our performance favourably, but will also vote us back to power.

Would you also tell the people why you have not been able to perform?

If need be, we will do so. But that need may not arise because we have achieved a large number of goals. There might be a shortfall here or there.

Chief Minister Rajnath Singh wants to nominate someone else for the Rajya Sabha while Kalraj Misra [Uttar Pradesh BJP president] is supporting another person. Why such a controversy over a lone seat?

As far as the BJP is concerned, there is no controversy about the Rajya Sabha seat. The controversy is more in the media than in the party.

Why has the party changed chief ministers in UP so frequently. When you changed the chief minister midstream before the Delhi election, you lost...

We did not lose the election because of a change in leadership. We lost because the price of onions shot up and the electorate held us responsible. This happened for the first time in 1967 in Tamil Nadu when the DMK defeated the Congress because of the high price of onions.

You had promised to reconstitute the party network. When are you going to do this?

I am already working on it and should be able to announce it shortly.

Design: Dominic Xavier

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