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2024 Lok Sabha Polls

BJP remains open to new allies, engages in ongoing discussions with SAD, Amit Shah confirms

NEW DELHI: The BJP does not believe in ”family planning” in politics and always welcomes new allies, Union Home Amit Shah asserted on Saturday and said that talks were on with the Shiromani Akali Dal.

Speaking at an event, Shah also stressed that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) will be implemented before the Lok Sabha polls and predicted the BJP will win 370 seats while the NDA will get more than 400 seats out of 543 in the elections.

Asked about the possibility of the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), headed by Jayant Singh, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and other regional parties joining the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the home minister said, ”We believe in family planning (in general) but not in politics.” ”We always want that our alliance grows and we always welcome new allies. Our ideology has remained the same since the days of Jan Sangh. Those who like to join us can come,” he said at the ET NOW Global Business Summit 2024.

When pressed further on the re-entry of SAD in NDA, he said, ”Talks are going on but nothing has been finalised.” Sukhbir Singh Badal-led SAD had pulled out of the NDA in September 2020 over the now-scrapped three farm laws.

On the possibility of joining hands with the TDP, which left the NDA in 2018, or the YSR Congress, Shah said, ”Everything is not disclosed in such platforms. Wait for some time. Everything will be clear for all.” In a major political realignment ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar switched from the opposition INDIA bloc to the NDA last month while there is talk of RLD also joining the BJP-led alliance.

Shah said the BJP has never sought separation from any alliance partner and has even let its regional allies lead state governments despite being the bigger partner.

He said many ”friends” have come and many have gone away.

”There are normally two reasons why they leave. It is because of certain incident or it is because of the political equation of a particular state. But the BJP never sought separation from any party. BJP always maintained the coalition dharma,” Shah said.

The Union minister asserted that there is no suspense over the outcome of the Lok Sabha polls and even the Congress and other opposition parties have realised that they will again have to sit in the opposition benches.

”We have abrogated Article 370 (of the Constitution, which gave a special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir). So we believe that the people of the country will bless the BJP with 370 seats and the NDA with over 400 seats,” Shah said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made a similar prediction ab winning a third consecutive term a few days back while speaking in Lok Sabha.

Shah said the 2024 polls will not be an election between the NDA and the INDI opposition bloc, but between those who deliver on the promise of development and a bright future and those who give mere slogans and represent hopelessness.

Asked about the Bharat Jodo Yatra of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, he said the Nehru-Gandhi scion has no right to go ahead with such a march as his party was responsible for the country’s partition in 1947.

Now, he said, again some people of the Congress are talking about the division of the country (South India -North India) and the party is not even distancing itself from such statements.

On the timing of a white paper tabled by the government in Parliament, Shah said it was necessary as the country has full right to know what mess the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) left behind when it lost power in 2014.

”At that time (2014), the economy was in a bad shape. There were scams everywhere. Foreign investment was not coming. Had we released a white paper at that time, it would have given a wrong message to the world.

”But after 10 years, our government has revived the economy, brought foreign investment and there is no corruption at all. So it is the right time to publish the white paper,” he said.

The home minister said the Congress was scared that their scams since 1948 would come out in the open in the white paper.

He claimed that during the two terms of the previous UPA government, there were scams to the tune of Rs 12 lakh crore.

On the CAA, Shah said the law, enacted in 2019, will be implemented before the Lok Sabha polls after issuing the rules in this regard.

”Our Muslim brothers are being misled and instigated (against the CAA). The CAA is only meant to give citizenship to those who came to India after facing religious persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. It is not for snatching anyone’s Indian citizenship,” he said.

To a query on a Uniform Civil Code, Shah said it is a constitutional agenda, signed by the country’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and others.

”But the Congress had ignored it due to appeasement. The enforcement of the UCC in Uttarakhand is a social change. It will be discussed on all forums and face legal scrutiny.

”A secular country cannot have religion-based civil codes,” he said.

About the decision to confer the Bharat Ratna on Chaudhary Charan Singh, former prime minister PV Narasimha Rao and renowned agriculture scientist MS Swaminathan, Shah said all three persons were big institutions of their times.

”In Congress’ time, Bharat Ratna was given either due to compulsion or to the family,” he said.

To a query on some leaders, including Uddhav Thackeray, asking why Bharat Ratna was not being given to Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Shah said: ”We have taken note of their suggestion”.

The home minister, however, refused to comment on the issues of Gyanvapi mosque and the Shahi Idgah mosque complex in Mathura saying these were now subject matters of courts.

Asked about the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, he said: ”The Act is in its place”.

The law prohibits conversion of any place of worship and provides for the maintenance of the religious character of any place of worship as it existed on the 15th day of August 1947, excluding Ayodhya’s Ram Janmabhoomi complex.

There has been a demand from a section including some BJP leaders that the law should be scrapped.

Shah said it is very unfortunate that there is a debate on the caste of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and alleged that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has a habit of telling lies publicly and repeating those thereafter.

Shah also said it was a Congress government in Gujarat that included Modi’s caste in the list of Other Backward Classes (OBC) in 1994 and the Centre included the prime minister’s caste in its OBC list in 2000.

”At that time also, Modi was not in a position of power – not an MP, not an MLA nor even a sarpanch. He became the chief minister in 2001. These people have a habit of distorting facts,” Shah said.

Source: Press Trust of India

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