Bhupendra Yadav
Bhupendra Yadav, India's Union Minister for Environment, Forest, and Climate Change and Labour and Employment Image Credit: ANI

Bhupender Yadav, Minister of Labour and Employment, Environment, Forest and Climate Change in the Government of India has co-authored The Rise of the BJP: The Making of the World’s Largest Political Party with economist Ila Patnaik.

The book is an insider account of India’s ruling party — Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), explaining how party became the sturdy pole of Indian politics.

In an exclusive interview to Gulf News Yadav defends his party’s politics.

In your book’s first chapter there is a reference that in the early 60s newborn Jan Sangh refused to merge with the Hindu Mahasabha for elections. How do you explain the subtle difference?

BJP believes in cultural nationalism which doesn’t include any fanaticism.

BJP has become a hardline party now. The reaction to some recent events is a case in point.

No no, we have legally investigated all the cases and we never forgive people who take the law in their own hands. This country runs according to the law but our policy of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas aur Sabka Vishwas’ (taking everyone along, keeping everyone’s trust, and development of all) is one that the Prime Minister keeps repeating and this is the principle that the Bharatiya Janata Party functions on.

Your book has one undercurrent. Why is the BJP so obsessed with Congress?

We are not obsessed with Congress.

Your book has maximum coverage of Congress.

That is because the journey of our political party is such. It’s the alternative party that has come to power. Congress has ruled the country for 50 years and we are addressing the policies that they have put in place. We are committed to our mission.

What is your fundamental problem with the Congress party? It has a glorious history, it had great leaders.

No, I have no problem. The problem is for them that a party with such a great history and great leadership is now dependant on one family. And Congress has transformed from being a democratic party to a dynastic party.

I am talking seriously of the ideology and the issues.

Going from the democracy to a dynasty is the collapse of all ideologies.

BJP leaders didn’t participate in the freedom movement. If Congress is claiming their glorious legacy for helping India get freedom, what is wrong with it?

Nothing is wrong.

When they are saying that you did not take part in the freedom movement, that is a factual statement.

That is also not a factual statement because the Bhartiya Janasangh was only formed in 1950. And the people who were in the party at the time were all involved in the freedom movement.

And from the Congress, Ram Manohar Lohia was part of the freedom movement and he broke away from the party later, so then his Socialist party should also be given the due respect. Sucheta Kripalani was a big leader from the Congress, she left the party and created the Kisaan Mazdoor Party.

Babasaheb Ambedkar was also part of the freedom movement. He also left the Congress. There are a lot of people who were part of the freedom movement. The freedom movement and the current Congress have no connection. Freedom Movement and this Congress have no connection. Congress (I) is a party that was formed after India gained independence.

The original Congress party broke into several different groups. This Congress has emerged from that. The Congress you are talking about is Congress (I). Gandhiji said that the Bharatiya Rashtriya Congress was a political movement, independence was won, and new parties were formed.

BJP’s highest decision making body, BJP Parliamentary board doesn’t have elections. You have nominations. Where is the intraparty democracy? JP Nadda was nominated as president of the party by PM Modi.

You look at the record of submissions in the Election Commission (EC). Every three years there are elections in the BJP. In our election process — from primary members to the state committees are elected. The parliamentary board is not a body who runs its agenda outside of the Indian constitution.

The process is a part of the constitution of the BJP and submitted to EC. This is the only party that has held its elections every year for the last twenty years. In this country, there is no other democratic party that has kept its democratic rights alive.

Some of your supporters and voters think that your party stands up for Hindu identity and issues relating to it. Do you agree that BJP is quintessentially protecting Hindu rights?

We follow the sabka saath, sabka Vikas aur sabka Vishwas principal.

No, my question is do you stand up exclusively for the protection of Hindu rights?

That is also included.

This is a smart answer.

An answer is an answer. An answer is neither smart nor is it bad.

The BJP has grown but why has it been unsuccessful in getting the support of India’s Muslims?

I have written about it in the book. I have said that the Congress has painted us as the communal party for a long time. Anyone can see that the BJP does not practise discrimination among different groups of people. Now you ask the people who don’t support the BJP why they don’t support.

Don’t ask me why. We are showing transparency through our governance and are playing by the rules, but we believe that the country will move towards a new direction which the BJP is working towards.

Should Hindus dominate economics, politics and public discourse?

No, the country belongs to everyone. The Prime Minister considers himself the leader of 125 crore people. But, this country has been running on its cultural values and those cultural values should be followed and respected by everyone. The country should not be divided into minority and majority.

Safety of all, work and jobs for the youth, more revenue for farmers, a respectable lifestyle for daily-wager workers are all a part of the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ plan. Dividing these and looking at them individually is wrong.

You mean this is not a Hindu country.

This is a cultural country of which the culture dates back to hundreds of years. India has a cultural influence on rest of the world in the coming years. This culture doesn’t only promote human being and mankind but also the environment on the planet.