Banking on Modi wave and Yeddyurappa appeal: Pralhad Joshi

Banking on Modi wave and Yeddyurappa appeal: Pralhad Joshi

Pralhad Joshi, Karnataka State BJP president and two-time MP from Dharwad, has been doing a lot of answering in the recent days following his flip-flop on inducting Sri Ram Sene chief Pramod Mutalik into the BJP.

With his decision being spiked by the national leaders, Joshi now has one more opponent to fight - Mutalik, in the Dharwad Lok Sabha constituency.

Joshi’s failed attempt to have Mutalik on his side during the campaign only exposed that he is not in a comfortable position as to ‘file and forget’ the nomination papers.

In an interaction with Pavan Kumar H of Deccan Herald in Hubli, Joshi was in a defensive mood when it came to the party’s controversial decisions– be it the induction of B S Yeddyurappa, B Sriramulu, or the failed attempt to cozy up with Mutalik.

He also pretended ignorance of the incident where jouranlists were allegedly lured by the BJP by sending gifts – clothes and wrist watches – in Dharwad.

Excerpts of the interview:

DH: Even before the voting, a few of your party leaders in Karnataka who are facing the LS polls have already decided on the ministerial posts they are ‘going’ to hold…

Joshi: (Laughs) I have bee asking party workers to avoid such claims. If any remark or claims have been made, it is just out of sheer eagerness. No mature leader would draw such conclusions. If a leader makes promises to the people during elections, then it is just what they propose to do as an MP. As of now, there has been nothing like ‘pre-election ministerial post allocation’.

DH: Are you also a contender to the post of a Union minister?

Joshi: I would not say I am not interested, but I even cannot say that I am not a contender.

DH: Why did you approve your followers to gift 'freebies' to journalists?

Joshi: I haven't asked anyone to give any gifts on my behalf. If I wished to give gifts, why would I give it to only one or two journalists, and that too in Dharwad when I stay in Hubli. A false accusation has been made against me.

DH: The State BJP unit, under your leadership, had taken three major decisions – re-induction of Yeddyurappa and B Sriramulu into the BJP, and giving party membership to Pramod Mutalik. These were not unanimous decisions as senior party leaders opposed one or the other decision.

Joshi: Senior leaders did not raise any objection to the re-induction of Yeddyurappa. The State BJP unit discussed the matter under my leadership and conveyed its inclination to get Yeddyurappa back into the party and the entire party agreed.

Regarding B Sriramulu, yes, Sushmaji had raised some objections but we discussed the issue with our party’s national president. I was supposed to convey the decision of the central leaders to Sriramulu. I waited for three days to get the reply. And, finally Rajnath Singhji gave a green signal to accommodate Sriramulu as an individual, and I went ahead with the directions.

Mutalik had expressed his desire to join the party. After discussing with top leaders in the State, we took a decision to give him party membership as he had worked with Sangha Pariwar earlier. But our party president and prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi expressed their displeasure over Mutalik's induction into the party. Modiji conveyed that his (Mutalik) induction orders should be stayed, and as per their decision, we can't induct him at present....

DH: What reasons did Modi and Singh cite while conveying this decision?

Joshi: The decision was taken for various reasons, but I don't want to discuss about it. According to me, it is not a major issue.

DH: In future, is there a chance for Mutalik's come back into the party?

Joshi: At present, I don’t think it is possible as he is contesting elections against me.

DH: Many people feel that the BJP top leaders are not aware of ground realities and so they are preventing the State unit from going ahead with certain decisions.

Joshi: It is not like that, they have rejected just one decision. They have their own calculations and are much experienced. They have every right to give suggestions to the State units and they have done the same.

DH: What impact will Yeddyurappa’s presence in the party have on these elections?

Joshi: Yedyurappa is an important and popular leader in Karnataka and obviously he will have a major impact. However, it would be difficult to measure his impact with a yardstick. The Modi wave along with the mass appeal of Yeddyurappa will definitely help us fare well.

DH: Over the years it is seen that minority voters do not prefer voting for the BJP in large numbers. What are your plans to gain their confidence?

Joshi: It is a fact that minorities do not vote for us in large numbers. They have a fear about our party. But this fear has been triggered by the Congress party. We are trying to bring them out of that fear by holding meetings with the minorities with the help of our Minority Morcha.

One of the Haj committee presidents from Gujarat has been campaigning for us through Muslim meets. We are trying our level best to regain their confidence. For us, all the communities are equal. It is just that the issue has been misinterpreted by the Congress and conveyed to the minority community people.

DH: There is a level of dissatisfaction among KJP leaders who rejoined the party recently. How smooth is this walk for you?

Joshi: I can give you hundreds of names of KJP leaders who have been accommodated as office-bearers from taluk and district levels to State-level. Naturally there are some local problems when a party divides and unites again. We are slowly accommodating all of them, but it would take some time as this is not just plug in play game.

DH: What about KJP leaders who have left your party dissatisfied?

Joshi: There is no question of taking Dhananjay Kumar back into the party as he was involved in making allegations against our top most leaders such as L K Advani and Ananth Kumar even after Yeddyurappa's re-induction into the party. How can we accommodate someone who is passing anti-party comments? I, through common friends, had asked him not to make such comments, yet he continued his banter.

And B P Harish, former MLA who recently joined the Congress by quitting the KJP, had been eyeing a position in the BJP which was not vacant.

DH: Why were 'outsiders' parachuted into constituencies where a strong BJP candidate was already present?

Joshi: That is a political calculation and ultimately, tickets to candidates have been given after considering all the aspects. At present, I feel it is a right decision. It was a conscious decision of the party to field C H Vijayshankar from Hassan, so that he can take on H D Deve Gowda.

DH: How tough is the battle for your seat?

Joshi: I am confident of winning the seat with a bigger margin than the previous polls.

DH: How many seats do you expect to win in this elections?

Joshi: At national-level the party has set a target of 272-plus seats, and in Karnataka we have set a target of winning 19 plus seats out of 28. And we are confident of achieving it.

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