New Delhi: Former principal secretary in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, Brajesh Mishra has said that the taint of the Gujarat riots will never allow Narendra Modi to become the Prime Minister in an era of coalition politics.
In an exclusive interview to CNN-IBN's Bhupendra Chaubey, he said that Modi could become the BJP's prime ministerial candidate only if the party gets majority on its own.
Here is the transcript of the full interview:
Bhupendra Chaubey: With me someone who perhaps is one of the closest associates of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, someone who has known Mr Vajpayee for the longest time, Brijesh Mishra, former principal secretary to Mr Vajpayee. Thank you so much for taking out time for us Sir. Let me straight away ask you, when Nitish Kumar tries to draw a comparison between Atal Bihari Vajpayee and a Narendra Modi, is that a unfair comparison sir?
Brijesh Mishra: Well, he himself knows that there is no comparison between Atalji and Narendra Modi. The first thing we should we need to understand that today in this country there is no other statesman except Mr Vajpayee although he is bedridden now and cannot take active part in national affairs. Secondly this whole thing as one newspaper said or where I saw I don’t remember. The race for president has become a race for prime minister. It’s a strange thing that is happening today.
Bhupendra Chaubey: Are you surprised that Nitish Kumar has chosen to convert the battle of presidency in a time to a battle for prime ministership
Brijesh Mishra: I don’t say Nitish Kumar has done it. There are others who are talking about the same thing, although they may be talking in private conversation. So, today everybody is thinking that Pranab Mukherjee should be the President and if I support him there is more than one Nitish Kumar who is doing that, then perhaps in a situation where no party gets a majority in 2014, somebody like him would head the Third Front and get the support of Congress and BJP.
Bhupendra Chaubey: Mr. Mishra I must ask you, you know Mr Vajpayee is often credited with running the 23-party coalition at its peak successfully. You say there is no other statesman likes Mr Vajpayee
Brijesh Mishra Not only in BJP, anywhere
Bhupendra Chaubey: Increasingly we see these voices coming from the BJP that Mr Modi could very well be the prime ministerial candidate. When Nitish Kumar says the prime minister candidate must be someone who does not have hard edges, who does not speak rough languages, should be inclusive, should be secular. Is Narendra Modi in a position in whatsoever to see himself in the mask of Atal Bihari Vajpayee?
Brijesh Mishra Certainly not like Mr Vajpayee. There is no question of that. Even the comparison is odious. But Narendra Modi becoming prime minister depends entirely on BJP getting a majority in Parliament on its own. Otherwise, there are allies, who will say no.
Bhupendra Chaubey: So, Modi can be the prime ministerial candidate only and only if the BJP is in a position to get the majority. You don’t think that any party, even the NDA allies, like Nitish Kumar, who is almost threatening to walk out of the NDA. Should Modi be projected as the prime ministerial candidate? You don’t think that Modi’s elevation to the top post in BJP will lead to more allies coming to BJP.
Brijesh Mishra No. First of all, we must be clear that BJP is not going to get majority on its own. Impossible. And therefore, he cannot be put forward as a successor. They will have to find somebody else. Or they have to agree to a Third Front, which will support from outside.
Bhupendra Chaubey: Nitish Kumar has also talked about what had happened in 2002. A lot has been speculated over the last several years on what Atal Bihari Vajpayee really wanted to do Narendra Modi. Can you see these speculations rest? Was Mr Vajpayee in favour of removal of Narendra Modi post 2002 riots?
Brijesh Mishra Atalji had one quality which others in the BJP didn't have. That is, he had no faction in BJP. The entire party was his, and he was entirely party's. So if there was a vociferous demand that Narendra Modi should step down... not continue as chief minister, he was not going to interfere. So what he did was to say that yes this is alright but we must follow ‘Rajdharam’. This was the kind of advice given to him. But there was no question of Atalji overruling the party. We are now talking about this aspect of it. He was not going to say that..ok...you don’t accept this...I am going out now.
Bhupendra Chaubey: I must also ask you, are you also like Mr Vajpayee, you are convinced that one of the reasons why the NDA lost the election in 2004, was because of the riots of 2002?
Brijesh Mishra I don’t think so. There were other matters also. The loss could be because the elections were held earlier than October. The loss could be because what happened in Gujarat or the Congress prepared itself very well. But Atalji himself said to others that we are not going to win this election.
Bhupendra Chaubey: He knew?
Brijesh Mishra Yes, he had assessed the political situation. Atalji was a man who reconciled the regional interest with national interest. He didn’t allow a conflict as we see today.
Bhupendra Chaubey: Do you think the present day BJP leadership manages to do that?
Brijesh Mishra Not BJP, I am talking about the government. That is why the condition of India is going down. I must tell you something, your audiences will enjoy it. We were in Turkey where he met the Turkish prime minister and as they came out to report for Atalji to get into the car, the prime minister of Turkey asked him, how many allies do you have? He said, yesterday there were 23, I don’t know what is the number today.