Veteran BJP leader B C Khanduri of Uttarakhand is contesting from the Garhwal Lok Sabha constituency at the age of 79. The former chief minister has been fielded by the party despite a shock defeat in the Assembly polls — possibly to tap into popular resentment against the Congress. Khanduri spoke to Shemin Joy of Deccan Herald. Excerpts:
How are the BJP and the Congress placed in this election?
The Congress is in a total shambles. They will face humiliating defeat not only in Uttarakhand but also in the country. The Congress has misused these 10 years and people are in a mood to punish them. I think they came to power to loot as much as they can. People think the BJP will check corruption and make development possible. People are also very happy that for the first time, there is a feeling that we will not be soft towards Pakistan and China. Narendra Modi has created that image. Youth and women are charged up. If this is translated into votes, the Congress will be decimated.
But some senior leaders are not in awe of Modi.
See, in politics and even in every family, there are problems. There will be some leg-pulling. There will be fight for family property. These are human weaknesses.
You are fighting from Garhwal and sitting Congress MP Satpal Maharaj has now joined the BJP. Your comments?
He was in politics before I entered it. We have contested against each other. He defeated me and I defeated him too. He is also a religious leader and has his followers who will vote for the BJP.
Is there a possibility of the state government falling after election?
Both parties cannot form a stable government. The BSP has three members, and they are fighting among themselves. Two have been suspended and are independents. They are not attached to any principle. They will do whatever they want. You have to depend on these people. Inherently, the government is not stable at all.
Do you see the possibility of a BJP government?
I don’t want to predict. If the BJP forms the government, we need to get the support of the same people. If the Congress wants to form the government, they will have to depend on them too. The Congress managed 34 with great difficulty. Neither the Congress nor the BJP has majority. It is not what the Congress or the BJP want, but it is about what the independents want.
Do you foresee an early Assembly election?
I don’t know. People don't like elections very often. One thing I am sure of: a stable government can be formed only when the Congress or the BJP get 36 seats.
Your thoughts on the much-discussed pilgrimage to the four dhams.
Things are very bad. There are no roads. The central government has not given money to Borders Road Organisation (BRO) for the past three years. After the floods, the state government has also not done anything. My basic allegation against the central government is that they have deprived the BRO of funds with an ulterior motive. The main reason being that they want to give it to some big contractors in Delhi.