Union Minority Affairs Minister in the Narendra Modi government Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi is known for his one-line satires on opposition parties and leaders. As a minority minister, he is not only appreciated by the people in the government but also among the minority communities as such.
As per Naqvi the part time ministry has been transformed into its real working ministry with his signature slogan 'Development Without Appeasement' has now many takers. Naqvi has been managing elections affairs of the Bharatiya Janata Party for long. With Karnataka elections campaign going on in full swing, One India correspondent Vinod Kumar Shukla spoke to Naqvi about elections, Modi magic, minority votes and even controversial issue like Tipu Sultan: Excerpts of the interview:
Q. Karnataka election campaign is gradually reaching its zenith with Prime Minister Narendra drawing huge crowd and has been able to connect people through his rallies in the state still there is apprehension about BJP falling short to form the government in the state. Your comment!
A. The BJP in Karnataka is going to emerge victorious with thumping majority. Riding on the popularity of the Prime Minister, commitment of the Central government for the inclusive growth, poor governance record of the Congress in the state will help the BJP succeed. The message is all across the state that the incompetent government of Congress failed to deliver. So the BJP is a very effective and strong alternative for the state.
Q. Rahul Gandhi too is in the battlefield not as a naïve player but behaving like a seasoned politician with his pinching questions giving tough time to the BJP. What impact it will have on the state elections?
A. See! The Grand Old Party has a Brand New Acquired Role Model these days that is 'Mogambo' [Iconic character in villainous role in Hindi cinema]. If Parliament session gets washed out Mogambo is rejoiced, if progress of the country is jeopardized Mogambo is again rejoiced, when surgical strike is conducted to neutralise terrorists in Pakistan then Mogambo rejoices by raising doubt over the entire exercise taken up by Army and top of that Mogambo rejoices by paying disrespect to Vande Matram. The Congress these days relishes donning the character of Mogambo.
Q. Karnataka has a sizable minority population. Your ministry has been running several programmes benefitting minority communities. Do you think that it will have its impact on these elections in any manner?
A. Let me make it clear to you that our development initiatives are not for the vote bank politics. We want to empower people and ensure development without appeasement as the way people had been exploited in the past 70 years that they have started realizing and understanding motives of the past governments and ours. Today faith of the minority people towards the Bharatiya Janata Party and Narendra Modi has increased immensely. The minority community has been voting the BJP in big way and they will also vote in Karnataka as well.
Q. The Congress government has raised the issue of Lingayats just before the elections with a promise to give them status of minority. There are already six scheduled minorities in the country. You are the minister responsible for these communities, how do you look at this move? Will it make any difference?
A. The issue was actually started in 2013 when the Congress was ruling at the Centre. Even during the Congress regime Union Home ministry along with some other central ministries clearly stated that Lingayats are part of the Hindu society. First Lingayats cannot be looked upon a separate entity from the Hindu fold; second if Lingayats are separated from the Hindu society they won't be able to avail benefits of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe. So all these things must be asked from the Congress if they want to really help the community or want to harm them. Actually the Congress is stuck in the labyrinth of its own mischief.
Q The BJP has not done as it was expected in Gujarat Assembly elections last year. How do you look at the election of another important state where the BJP is expected a tough going?
A. There is a misconception about Gujarat elections that BJP did not fare well. We have improved our vote percentage. After 22 years in the government in the state, we have not only formed the government again but have also been able to increase our vote percentage. Isn't it an achievement? It is a matter of getting motivated and not getting demoralized.
Q. The issue of Tipu Sultan especially his centenary celebration was marred with controversy as the BJP vehemently opposed. Tipu is a celebrated personality in history. How will it impact electoral behaviors of people in the state?
A. It is not a matter of Tipu Sultan being a huge personality or a small personality from the pages of history. There are different aspects of history written all across and some aspects of history of Tipu Sultan is unsightly. So this dichotomy always remains there. A big section feels that the ugly aspect of Tipu Sultan had harmed the nation that is one of the important perspectives that cannot be ignored.
Q. Will these elections have any repercussion on the national elected that is likely in 2019?
A. There is one or two elections in every a few months and every time it is said that it will have its bearing at the Centre. The election of the Lok Sabha will be held in 2019 that will be on Centre performance and state elections have their own importance. We have recently won many elections, we have won Tripura and many others but we did not say it was Centre's election. State elections have their own dynamics. But we definitely get benefited from the leadership of Modi ji and top leadership of the party.
Q Elections are due in states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh by the year end. These are some important elections before country goes for general elections in 2019. Do you think the result of Karnataka will impact these elections in any manner?
A. What we feel is that elections in states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh will be held on performance of state governments. The BJP is ruling Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh for the past 15 years. We have been able to take these states to development path and have also been able to provide good governance there. I feel that we will be able to succeed again in forming government in these states.
Q The issue of governance and law and order in Uttar Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir is being raised where the BJP is at the helm of affairs. This might impact voting behavior and pattern of electorate elsewhere. Your comment!
A. Whether it is tragic incidence of Kathuwa or Unnao or any other such incidence in any other part of the country, it gives shame to humanity. There is no question of showing any mercy on the people involved in such kind of heinous crimes. There is law and provisions of law to punish such people. The cabinet passed this law and ordinance was issued for giving death sentence to perpetrators of such crimes. I feel that the government must be sensitive and state governments must also take right steps in this direction. They have taken right steps in this regard.
Q There is a perception about your ministry that it is one of the best performing ministries under the Modi government. You are responsible for issues related to minorities. It is said that minorities voted for BJP in 2014, is there any possibility that this could be better in 2019 with all your work in their minds?
A. See earlier the minority ministry was a part time ministry and the ministry was virtually run by officials but I started visiting places where work for them were being undertaken and started taking note of schemes of the ministry. I tried to ensure that maximum numbers of people are benefitted by our schemes. In two-and- half-year around 2.75 crore girls and boys were given scholarship. Schools, polytechnic and infrastructure have been built to benefit minorities. Some are complete and some in the process of getting completed. As far as employment is concerned, if you look at all schemes started by the ministry over 10 lakh people have been given employment in past two years. We are trying to do better and better for these communities without keeping in mind that who will vote for us and who won't. We will keep on working for them.