Hafiz Saeed's house arrest is just a fake step, says Rajnath Singh

Rajnath Singh said the BJP would act against those who were hampering the security operation in Kashmir. Photograph:( AFP )

WION New Delhi, India Feb 22, 2017, 01.15 PM (IST) Kartikeya Sharma

In an exclusive interview with WION, India's Home minister Rajnath Singh spoke about BJP's chances of winning the upcoming assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. He also defended Prime Minister Narendra Modi's demonetisation policy, and the allegation that he was responsible for the logjam in Parliament following the 'raincoat' jibe against former PM Manmohan Singh. The Home minister called on Pakistan to take tougher measures against Jama'at-ud-Da'wah (JuD) terrorist Hafiz Saeed who is currently under house arrest in Pakistan.

Q: What is your political assessment of Uttar Pradesh?
A: BJP will get full majority in Uttar Pradesh.

Q: It is believed that RLD did a good job in the first phase?
A: I don’t believe this. We will also get a substantial chunk of Jat votes.

Q: How come the BJP changed goalposts during the middle of the elections. From development to cremation ground. Why did this happen?

A: People should not misinterpret the statement of the prime minister. What prime minister meant was that there shouldn’t be any discrimination on the basis of caste and creed at an individual basis. He was speaking against vote bank politics and implementation of policies on the basis of captive votes. You don’t do politics to come to power.

Q: Do you believe that SP discriminated on the basis of religion on the issue of subsidy
A: SP has always believed in the divide and rule policy. Even BSP does it. They say, this community votes for us but this is the language which we can never use. 

Q: Opposition has accused you of polarising politics?
A: I’m opposed to polarisation. It is injurious to this country. I don’t believe in such politics.

Q: PM has been attacked up, close and personal in these elections? Leaders are targeting each other at a personal level?
A: People should be careful about the words they use. PM is an institution and the dignity of the institution should be respected and the system shouldn’t be broken. The consequence of such politics can be grave...

Q: PM is being projected as an outsider in the SP-Congress campaign?
A: The PM belongs to the country...

Q: Akhilesh Yadav has made certain personal remarks about the PM?
A: It is very unfortunate. If I would have been in his place and if I would have said something like it, I would have withdrawn my statement... 

Q: How’s the SP-Congress alliance doing?
A: Minus plus minus will be zero. Two weak elements have come together to fight. It will have no impact on the Uttar Pradesh elections.

Q: Parliament has stopped functioning. What is the reason?
A: It has to be taken very seriously. We have made all the outreach. People should come together and talk. We have tried our best to get the Opposition to talk to us. We did our bit...

Q: What about the current logjam?
A: This can only be explained by the opposition not us...

Q: Is it because of the fact that the Congress has failed to accept that BJP has a full majority?
A: I think they have not been able to reconcile to our massive victory in the 2014 elections.

Q: The House ended on the raincoat controversy. Where does Parliament go from here?
A: They should understand that PM actually praised Manmohan Singh but it should also not be forgotten that it was Manmohan Singh who called demonetisation the biggest organized loot. Was he referring to Prime Minister Modi? On the basis of same interpretation, we should have got very angry as he was calling our PM "lootera" (looter) and criminal. No one blamed Manmohan Singh for corruption....

Q: How do you assess Rahul Gandhi as a leader? Opposition leaders play an important role in democratic a set-up...
A: I wish Rahul Gandhi best of luck that he emerges as a seasoned, dynamic, visionary and a mature leader. He has my "aashirwaad" (blessings).

Q: Who is your opponent in Uttar Pradesh?
A: It is a mixed bag. There are areas in which the SP is fighting us and in some areas, the SP-Congress alliance is giving us a fight...

Q: What makes BJP a player after 15 years in UP?
A: I know the reason but will not share it. What I can say is that BJP’s credibility has increased. People believe that BJP commits itself to word and deed. They find no difference between the word and the deed. There are no corruption charges against leaders in this government. The economy is doing well. All of this has helped us...

Q: How come not a single Muslim got a ticket from BJP. You earlier said that BJP believes in "sabka saath sabka vikas" (development for everyone)?
A: This is right. People get tickets on the basis of strength. But we will remember this in future that Muslims should get tickets in Uttar Pradesh. MJ Akbar and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi are there in the Centre. There have been instances that people have been accommodated in the states from the Upper House but it would have been better if there would have been Muslim candidates...

Q: Even your critics are considered to be the inheritor of Atal Bihari Vajpaye’s style of politics? Your comments...
A: I can never ever forget Vajpayee. He influenced me. I would say that people like me cannot become Vajpayee. He was god gifted. Despite not being in active politics, people still clap for him...

Q: You worked with both Modi and Vajpaye. What is the difference between them?
A: It would be unfair to compare Modi with Vajpaye. Both leaders have different qualities. They have different working styles. Each is unique and different so one cannot cross-evaluate?

Q: How do you define your relationship with the PM? Once you were compatriots?
A: I have a very good relationship with the PM. Our relationship has not changed but now he is my Prime Minister. We have to work within the norms. He is our Prime Minister and I’m mindful of it but our relationship remains the same.

Q: How will the results in Uttar Pradesh impact UP elections?
A: It is a big state and that is the reason why it will have an impact. But issues are different. State-level elections are on local issues. National issues have a limited impact in the state...

Q: Is demonetisation an issue?
A: I get feedback. It is a major achievement on part of our government. People suffered but did not question the intentions of the Prime Minister which in itself is important...

Q: Is MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) prepared for the summer in Valley? The situation last time was bad...
A: Kashmir should normalise and we are trying our best to do so. I would add that this is not the first time the Valley has seen a situation like this, similar situation has been witnessed in the past where lot of people have been affected but It is unfortunate. We want political parties to cooperate.

Q: We have seen that security operations are being hampered in the Valley which is a new development. How do you see it?
A: There are forces which are creating problems and we need to identity them and do something about it. We need to think about it.

Q: Yashwant Sinha, your former colleague and senior BJP leader has openly spoken about talks with Kashmiris. Your comment?
A: I have gone to Kashmir thrice. I’m open to talk within the Kashmiriyat, jhamoriyat and insaniyat. It is not the fault of the government that these people didn’t come...

Q: Has surgical strike changed anything for you?
A: Things have changed. It has raised the morale of the army. Terrorists are being killed on a daily basis which never happened before. The surgical strike has held us in good stead...  

Q: Why are you raising the issue of Pakistan and surgical strikes during rallies?
A: Every Indian has a sense of pride which is known as national pride. That is why people responded to me with the feeling that this government protects national interest.

Q: How can this be turned into an electoral issue when you are calling it a national issue?
A: Governments are formed through elections and development is not the only goal. The responsibility of the government entails national pride and national security.

Q: You have taken a tough stand on Pakistan?
A: I also mentioned that Pakistan is our neighbour. We called all countries for Modi's swearing-in ceremony.

Q: But you also said that you weren't keen to go to Pakistan?
A: I thought that SAARC would be a formal affair and wanted the MOS (Minister of State) to go. Then I realised that there was a campaign organised against India and people were shouting anti-India slogans and those leading the crowd were terror leaders, I decided to go. I said what I wanted to. Blunt speak.

Q: Then why is the MHA shying away from declaring Pakistan a terrorist state?
A: We don’t want to take any decision in a hurry. We are a global village. Terrorism is a challenge for the world. We want other countries to cooperate with us. PM has taken many nations on board....

Q: You said the world is a global village but your biggest neighbour China is on Hafiz Saeed's side with Pakistan?

A: Even Pakistan’s defence minister has spoken. It is a good signal. But a decisive step is required. House arrest will not do. When I say decisive step I mean that some action needs to be taken. Law must take its own course. House arrest is just a fake step. More needs to be done. Law must catch up and this eyewash cannot continue... 

 

In an interview with WION, Home minister Rajnath Singh said that Pakistans action on Hafiz Saeed was an eyewash and Pakistan needed to do more on terror. He also promised to punish those threatening J&K security (WION)

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(WION)