Politics is not everyone’s cup of tea and hence a majority would have nothing to do with it. However, politicians are the ones who make a difference because they are the policy makers. And once the election season comes, every political party projects itself as the most suitable ruling party.
In this time of political one-upmanship, the role of Party Spokesperson assumes importance. A Spokesperson is judged by the knowledge he/ she has about the party and the way the party is defended at any cost. Meenakshi Lekhi is one such firebrand National Spokesperson of the BJP.
Star of Mysore Features Editor N. Niranjan Nikam caught up with the articulate lady at Hotel Southern Star. She touched upon Women’s Reservation Bill, Impeachment and above all, the role PM Narendra Modi is playing to build the Nation. – Editor
By N. Niranjan Nikam
Star of Mysore (SOM): You are here when election pitch is at an all-time high. What is your view about elections in Karnataka?
Meenakshi Lekhi: Election in Karnataka is about dismantling the old system and it is important because certain forces are responsible in making a peaceful State into a violent one. What is dominant in Karnataka is misgovernance of institutions that has a cascading effect on the society where there is an utter collapse of administration, innocents being killed and there is an unsafe atmosphere for women and children. So I think Karnataka is seeking a change.
SOM: Your job is tough. Are there times when you have to defend the indefensible?
Meenakshi Lekhi: I have always defended the defensible, defending what I believed in and I did what I could with the best of my capacity. As a sitting a MP, your answerability is to the people of your constituency. So managing those expectations, working on the ground and managing the office of the spokesperson at times gets difficult but I do what I love the most.
SOM: But you will continue to be the Spokesperson?
Meenakshi Lekhi: No idea because I am the only Spokesperson who has been there for a long time right from 2012.
SOM: Your party President Amit Shah says that Karnataka polls will be the gateway to South. How important is this election for you?
Meenakshi Lekhi: Karnataka is very important because it is the first State in the South we won in a long time. Then we lost it too. Now that the BJP has spread its footprints, in North-East most of North, work needs to be done in eastern and southern parts. And knowing Amit Shah the way I know him, he always counts what he has not been able to achieve and not what he has achieved. We have a Party President who has grit and is hard working and who is willing to go to any extent to help and support the party.
SOM: You are also an advocate and have been a part of the drafting committee for Bills like ‘Women’s Reservation Bill’ a touchy subject. Where does it stand today?
Meenakshi Lekhi: The draft that I worked on was slightly different from what people are seeking. The draft proposal which I worked gave 33 percent reservation to women. I think that only capable women must enter politics and they must not become proxy for men folks. The other thing was why a woman should fight against a woman. Because when a woman is contesting against another woman, only one of them will make it. If you take my example in 2014 I fought against two men and defeated them badly. So a woman can contest against men and defeat them and that is the kind of success we are looking at.
SOM: So what has happened to the Bill?
Meenakshi Lekhi: Nothing. But in 2010 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was Chief Minister of Gujarat, he had in his Assembly passed a Women’s Reservation Bill and he was the first one to get that done through the State he was administrating and then the Bill reached the Central Government. But the assent of the then President was declined. Congress keeps saying, ‘We support Women’s Reservation’ etc., and that is the kind of hype they are trying to create. The truth is completely the opposite. If they could they should have signed the Bill and made that the basis of giving reservation to women in other States. But they did not do that because in their hearts they did not support the intent.
SOM: Karnataka BJP President B.S. Yeddyurappa’s son B.Y. Vijayendra has been denied ticket at the last moment. What are the chances of BJP winning in Varuna as it has sent a wrong signal?
Meenakshi Lekhi: No we have all the chances because it is BJP as a party. Sometimes even capable people have to work as per the assignment that the party decides for you than what you desire. If the party needs you somewhere, you follow that because winning the State becomes more important than restricting a person to one Constituency and he may be needed to build the entire team across the State.
SOM: What about the Congress and Opposition trying to impeach the Chief Justice of India which was of course rejected by the Rajya Sabha Chairman? As an advocate, how do you read it?
Meenakshi Lekhi: Impeachment, I would say was going to be infructuous and the Congress also knew it from day one. It was a very badly drafted petition because they were unsure of their own allegations. If you read Articles dealing with impeachment proceedings, you will realise a judge can be impeached only if there is a ‘proven misconduct’ and not allegation of misconduct. But if you read the language of petition, it says ‘it appears’ ‘likely to be’ ‘most likely to be’ which indicates that it was most hyped up case to be used politically as a weapon. Congress is known to be an institutional disrupter.
Congress has repeatedly disrupted Constitutional institutions and rejecting such a horribly drafted petition was the right thing to do because you cannot allow anyone to misuse the institutions. So if you are attacking an institution like this you are causing anarchy because everybody respects judiciary irrespective of the judgment being in your favour or against you.
SOM: What is the experience like working with Prime Minister Narendra Modi?
Meenakshi Lekhi: I think he has done extremely well in implementing projects in a big way. And because he is an organisational man, he understands the power of organisation. BJP workers are involved everywhere to implement all the good work that Government is doing. Otherwise, the Government schemes remain in files and never reach the people. Modi has managed to make the BJP worker help the Government to take the schemes to the ground.
SOM: What has been your personal experience with PM Modi?
Meenakshi Lekhi: Fantastic. I was working as a party worker even when he was the Chief Minister and on several issues we have ended up having a conversation and so responses from him have always been motivating. He is someone who knows the smallest of the details of any issue. He would have studied the subject threadbare. He always has a contribution to make to what you had to discuss or speak to him on things.
Recently for example we did one programme where he got connected with my Constituency workers through a video conference. He knew a very senior party worker Anjuri Devi who had problem with her knees and who would be attending all our party programmes in spite of her old age. So in his interaction, Modi called out for her which was so touching. In our party, from youngster to the old, irrespective of caste and religion, people come and work as equals and that is the message somebody like the Prime Minister is giving you and that is why we have such a huge respect for him. And he would just pick up a phone and make a phone call to you and say I want this done.
SOM: He would call you personally?
Meenakshi Lekhi: It used to be far more regular when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat. But after he became the PM I did get a call about some issue going on in Delhi and he knew exactly what he has to speak. But if you feel that since he is sitting in the PMO, where entry is restricted, what would he know what is happening on the ground, you are wrong. So as Prime Minister he continues to be a BJP worker which is an inspiration for all of us. He talks to you like an elder brother.
SOM: What is your view about the Ordinance providing death sentence for rapists of girls below 12 years of age?
Meenakshi Lekhi: My view would be BJP as a party and I as an individual and I speak for 11 crore BJP workers. Nobody supports rape or child murder anywhere in the country. But the kind of dirty politics that Congress has chosen to play is for everyone to see. And the Government has showed its intent by toughening the law and increasing jail term.