‘We are going to damage the BJP’
ONE of the biggest setbacks to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Rajasthan came when its six-time MLA and senior leader Ghanshyam Tiwari quit the party in June 2018 citing irreconcilable differences with Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje. He floated a new party, Bharat Vahini Party (BVP), which is contesting 63 seats. Tiwari, 73, was Education Minister in Vasudhara Raje’s government during her first tenure. He owes much of his political training in government to the late Chief Minister Bhairon Singh Shekhawat. Primarily from a Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh background, he said any party that was invited to form the government would need the BVP’s support.
The BVP, which claims to represent the upper castes and talks of reservation based on economic backwardness, has an alliance with the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party led by another BJP rebel, Hanuman Beniwal. Tiwari spoke to Frontline at his office in Jaipur, with a huge portrait of M.S. Golwalkar, the second sarsanghchalak of the RSS, looming in the background.
The State BJP moved away from its principles. There was no internal democracy. I wrote repeatedly to the central leadership. They agreed with me but were helpless. I had no majboori or reason to feel helpless. Why do you think the Enforcement Directorate is not investigating the Lalit Modi case? I spoke against the regime of goods and services tax [GST], demonetisation and the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
No, that is not the case. I have been attacking party president Amit Shah for his dictatorial style of functioning. The manner in which elections are being conducted is against constitutional principles and the system of parliamentary democracy that we have borrowed from Westminster. The presidential form of campaigning goes against parliamentary and inner-party democracy. It is also against the Representation of the People Act, where it is said that the largest single party will elect its leader.
They have compelled the MLAs and the people to accept the leadership of the incumbent Chief Minister. On the one hand, there is a pretence of following the parliamentary system of democracy, and on the other, a presidential form of government is being promoted and imposed.
We are going to damage the BJP more than the Congress. We have divided it vertically, just like the BJP split the Janata Party. We don’t have a single person from the Congress. The people of Rajasthan are against the BJP. The BJP will get the lowest number of seats; not more than 32. We are supporting independents and have left around 40 seats for Beniwal’s party.
When the Prime Minister campaigns, definitely it involves talking about Central policies. Policies such as foreign direct investment in retail are a big issue for small traders. Demonetisation and GST affected farmers badly. Otherwise, in Assembly elections, State issues will dominate.
There is no question of going back to the BJP. The time for going back is over. The party has become arrogant. They think they have a lot of money and can get things done. The Election Commission has put some curbs on spending but still parties such as the BJP are able to get a lot of funds. Where are the principles? They have given the ticket to people who crossed over from the Congress; the Congress has nominated those who quit the BJP. They have auctioned seats.
No one is against the temple. But they should not practise double standards. Two hundred temples have been broken in Rajasthan. No one is talking about it.