What factors sprung a shock for the BJP in the last elections?
I must admit the '99 Lok Sabha results have been unexpected for me as well. We've decided to closely analyse the results on a seat-wise basis. We want to take remedial measures right away. However, I personally feel there are four main factors that have affected these elections.
What are these factors?
The dominant caste politics in the state, tactical voting by the Muslims for making the BJP candidate lose, the power-hungry political parties and the backlash against the MPs who have been repeated for multiple terms are the factors to start with.
'Four main factors affected this election: the dominant caste politics in UP, tactical voting by Muslims, power-hungry parties and backlash against multiple-term MPs.'
Your popularity's been directly related to the Babri Masjid demolition...
I'd never like to use the Ram Mandir as my trump card. Nevertheless, I also admit that this issue had created waves among the masses. As I was an active party worker, this issue definitely brought me closer to the people's sentiments.
Did the policy of keeping this issue on the back-burner affect the state BJP and your appeal as well?
It's doubtless issues get identified with parties and when bypassed do take their toll.
What measures did you take to handle this?
I explained to the people that because it has become practically impossible for any single political party to gain absolute majority, the coalition system has become inevitable. Whenever you shake hands, it is but natural that you have to have a common platform of agreement. For this, some controversial issues need to be dropped. I have said in all my rallies that the coalition form of the government is what the country needs to save itself from political instability. And parties have to pay the price in the form of their respective agendas.
Why have you suddenly taken the responsibility of your party's poor performance in the state?
I had to as I head the government. However, I am waiting for a detailed analysis of the results. Besides, as chief minister I do not want to rake up issues that spark off an undesirable debate within the party.
So do we have mid-term elections around the corner?
All this talk is baseless. I'm confident of completing my full term of five years.
You have been facing dissidence for quite sometime now...
Don't call it dissidence. There have been some voices against me who think that I have worked against the interests of some castes. Especially the Brahmins. But this is a myth if you look at the Brahmins who have benefited in my regime - be it the politicians or the officials. But the allegations against me need to be analysed in the proper forum so that the vested interests come to the fore.
What is your reaction to Sakshi Maharaj's outbursts against the BJP? He is known to be close to you, so why couldn't you stop him?
I did not want to react. As chief minister, if I had reacted it would have only heightened his status.
Why are people complaining about poor developmental work during your present regime?
It is the mentality of the people. In the last two years, I have given more to the people than in the last 24 years. But it is sad that the performance of the government was not projected in the right light. (Smiles) It is an obvious failure and I do not want to discuss it right now.