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"We Stand For Regional Pride"

Gujarat Chief Minister Shankersinh Vaghela speaks to Outlook on issues surrounding the Radhanpur byelection. Excerpts:

"We Stand For Regional Pride"
outlookindia.com
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Rumour has it that you may finally decide not to run from Radhanpur.

I’ll definitely contest from there. I’ve had the seat vacated, now I’m not going to have another one vacated. It wouldn’t be proper.

Is the Rashtriya Sant Samaj being set up to combat the VHP and its Hindu card in Radhanpur?

No. People have been coming to us from the VHP, the Kisan Sangh and the RSS, organising themselves as they see fit. We aren’t combating the VHP, we are ignoring them, not even condemning the agitation. No one is taking them seriously. You see what happened to the bandh.

So you are not cloning the VHP, Kisan Sangh, etc?

No. The RJP is open-minded, people can come. We are a regional party. We stand for regionalism, pride in the state and its culture. Our organisational set-up is different, each worker is accountable, because he holds an identity-card.

Was Togadia’s arrest pre-planned?

We have only implemented cases started in the time of the previous BJP government headed by Sureshbhai Mehta. You know, there e wo lines in the BJP, pro-and anti-Vajpayee. It was Togadia’s job to create a law and order problem, perpetrate hinsa (violence) whenever Vajpayeeji appeared at a function.

Do you forsee further defections from the BJP?

People are coming to us from all levels, including local bodies. MLAs are upset and the party is divided. In due course, more people may come to us. It is in the pipeline.

Are you apprehensive about the Congress withdrawing support?

That is for them to decide. I think the decision of the high command will be positive. In fact, I will welcome their support in Radhanpur.

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