Ahead of Jharkhand Assembly polls, Rajya Sabha MP and state BJP election in-charge Om Prakash Mathur spoke to Abhishek Angad on the poll planning, problems in the party's alliance and if national issues will be an agenda during the campaign. Excerpts:
How confident are you in the upcoming election?
The welfare schemes brought out by the central and state governments have impacted the population of Jharkhand. I think that only 1-2 per cent would have been left out. Jharkhand was Maoist-affected and people could not travel at night. It is under control. Better roads, power and gas connections have reached people. People will vote for us because development has reached the villages. We will win 65-plus seats.
There is some dissatisfaction among the BJP's ground workers that the leadership is not listening to them.
This will be the first party where we asked for opinions of workers at the mandal level on their choice of candidates. Sometimes we also have to look into the social equation and there are chances that someone forced them to write their names. So the dissatisfaction will remain, but it is momentary.
On political challenges of the state BJP, there is a perception that the party is anti-tribal. CM Raghubar Das's image as a rude, reckless person and the BJP giving tickets to turncoats who face criminal cases, people are now talking about the party's "chaal, charitra, chehra aur chintan".
Opposition parties have created that perception, but when I go to the ground I don't see anti-BJP sentiments among tribals. An environment has been created, but it is for the people to decide. I am aware of what is being talked about the CM and I think people should have control on their language... one needs to understand that there are also a lot of political cases, but does it mean that we stop people from contesting elections? Let the court decide the case first.
Now that the tickets are announced how is BJP planning to contain the rebels?
This is a new experience for me, as here, in Jharkhand, if candidates don't get tickets, they switch their parties... I think it is upto the people to decide.
Saryu Roy, who has been vocal against CM Raghubar Das, has been given a ticket?
We hear through the media that he is planning to contest as an Independent. It is upto the BJP Central Committee to decide.
Is the alliance between BJP and All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) intact? AJSU says that BJP never responded to the demand of 17 seats and declared seats without a decision on the table.
I think he (AJSU chief Sudesh Mahto) did not understand the time and political situation. I don't have any ill feelings. Every time he used to say something different. Initially there were talks of friendly fights, but then he put up a candidate against BJP's state chief Laxman Giluwa. I told them him to withdraw, but nothing happened. Seats which they had asked for were left vacant... at times it is stubbornness which does not allow things to move forward.
Will national issues be brought to the Jharkhand election campaign?
We will be campaigning on the issues of state and development. But why would national issues not be important? Article 370, (instant) triple talaq and Ram Mandir will be an election issue in Jharkhand.