Will fight feudalism of Vasundhara govt: Rebel BJP leader Ghanshyam Tiwari

Vasundhara Raje
Bharatiya Janata Party rebel leader from Rajasthan, Ghanshyam Tiwari, says he will fight the feudalism of the Vasundhara Raje government in the state and the undeclared Emergency in country. Edited excerpts from an interview by Shikha Shalini

You have been a senior member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a six-term MLA, a Minister twice and you have been associated with the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS) for many years. How did a person of your seniority and standing suddenly decide to leave the BJP and form your own party?

This is not sudden. I have been opposing Raje’s government in the assembly and outside of it for the last four years. There were some issues such as Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill 2017 through which the Rajasthan government tried to impose censorship on the media, even the police. The chief minister tried to protect public servants in the state from being investigated. It also barred the media from reporting on accusations of such wrongdoings till the government had sanctioned a probe. She brought the Special Investment Region (SIR) Bill, that empowers “designated authorities” to enter any land or building once the state government has declared “any area of land to be a Special Investment Region”. This was totally against the interests of the farmers. The Rajasthan government passed the Land Pooling Schemes Bill which was actually an amended Land Acquisition Act passed by the centre. In the same way, she passed Rajasthan Ministers’ Salaries (Amendment) Bill, 2017 that paved way for the entitlement of a government bungalow, car and other facilities for life to former Chief Ministers of Rajasthan. I was fighting against all these things. I continuously fought in the assembly on the issue of unemployment, for farmers’ debt waiver and electricity. I saw that the Centre was not stopping her from doing all this. I felt democracy was in danger and the state government was behaving like a dictatorship. There was an undeclared emergency. In the end, I thought I should just part company from them.

Are you talking about undeclared Emergency only in Rajasthan or are you pointing towards the Center?

An undeclared emergency is in force both in Rajasthan and the Center. I will now work against undeclared Emergency in the country and state to ensure that no one tries to strangulate democratic institutions for power.

Your resentment is more against the chief minister than the central leadership and the BJP?

The party in Rajasthan has gone into the chief minister’s pocket. And the party people who were associated with ideology and organisation have come with me. There is a secret agreement in place between the chief minister and BJP president Amit Shah. We have formed the Bharat Vahini Party and I am working with my party.

Your resentment is mainly directed against Amit Shah? Or Narendra Modi too?

Now I am not under any leadership. The central leadership is Vasundhara’s central leadership.

What is your objection to the Centre?

I will make my objections to the Narendra Modi government public at the appropriate time. But right now I can say that there is nothing like a system of the Union Cabinet. All power has been concentrated in two people, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. There is no internal democracy. The government’s decision of demonetisation was not good for economy. Implementation of Goods and Service Tax has broken the backbone of businesses. Business centers in Rajasthan are angry with the Modi government.

You had voiced your disapproval last time too, when Raje formed a government. Is this a policy conflict or personal disagreement? 

We have no differences on the personal level. My disagreements are policy-oriented. I do not like feudalism in democracy. I was associated with the JP movement. That is why I am fighting to protect democracy. I fought the emergency then and I am still fighting.

Ghanshyam Tiwari | Illustration: Binay Sinha
Raje  was involved in controversies like the Lalit Modi scam. There must be a reason why she is still so valuable to the party?

I had written a letter to BJP President Amit Shah regarding these allegation. I asked whether there is collusion or they have partnerships but I have not received any reply yet.

There is a clash in the Congress, there is a state of internal discord in the BJP. In your opinion, who is going to form the government after the Assembly elections?

In Rajasthan, the writing is on the wall: That under the leadership of Raje, the BJP will taste its worst defeat so far. Voters will decide what will happen next.

Do you see the state heading for a coalition government? What will be your role in it? Will you be neutral or support someone?

Only after election results can we talk about coalition and support. But it is clear that the BJP will not get majority. If Narendra Modi and Amit Shah will campaign here, the BJP’s defeat will be bigger.

Who are in the Third Front? You will contest how many seats?

For this, we are talking to many people. All non-Congress, non-BJP groups will come together. Talks are on for an alliance with Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). We have talked to Hanuman Beniwal and some people from the CPI (M). Apart from these, there are many different people who have social and political influence. Together they will create a third front.

We will contest all 200 assembly seats. Beniwal campaigned to form a third front along with MLA Kirodi Lal Meena but he joined the BJP. Who cares for those who went away? If someone decides to sit in a sinking boat, what can we do?

You said talks are going on with the BSP. But they seem to be interested in a partnership with the Congress…

They may be talking to Congress but the BSP has told us that they will come together with us.

Don’t you think fighting separately will help the BJP?

Eighty per cent of the people who are with me are actually BJP people. We had a meeting on July 3 in which people from 180 assembly constituencies participated. The BJP’s political division is a reality in Rajasthan. When you talk about power and organisation, most of the people of the organisation are with us and the power-hungry people are with them.

Do you believe that Third Front will win goodwill?

Absolutely. I have 40 years of experience of public work. The people of Rajasthan know what I have done. All this will become issues in the election. I have toured Rajasthan three times, now I am going on my fourth tour of the state. I am getting full support from the people of Rajasthan.

How many legislators of the present assembly are in your favour? On what basis are you so optimistic about the third front?

I do not want the support of any existing legislator. What’s the use if there is a wave of anti incumbency against these MLAs. 

Niti Aayog Deputy Chairman Rajiv Kumar has said that due to sick states like Rajasthan, India’s growth rate is declining. Both Congress and BJP have an equal contribution in making Rajasthan a sick state and reducing the country’s growth rate. These two have ruled ten years each in the last 20 years. Recently, the Chairman of the Public Affairs Center (PAC), K Kasturirangan, released the Governance Index which revealed that Rajasthan has slipped from 7th place to the 11th position. Those states where a third front or regional parties exist performed well. For example, Telangana was at 13th place but now is at third place because a regional party is in power. Tamil Nadu, which is at second place is also being governed by a regional party. Similarly Kerala is on the top of the list. The misfortune of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh is that they have to deal with only two national parties. So their position is declining. Now people understand that there is a need for a third party in the state.

How do you rate the chances of the Congress in Rajasthan?

In Rajasthan, the BJP and the Congress government have succeeded each other. In such a situation, the Congress is also hopeful that people who are dissatisfied with Raje will vote for them.

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel