‘RSS Has Never Demanded Any Quota From BJP’

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Ravi Shankar Prasad, BJP chief spokesperson, tells Neha Dixit that all talk of opposition to the new team of office-bearers is untrue

Photo: Shailendra Pandey

BJP chief Nitin Gadkari has been accused of choosing glamour over experience for his new team.
Our party has set an example of practising what we preach. We have not only implemented the policy of women’s reservation but are also giving representation to the tribals, Dalits and extremely backward communities. Those who are being critical are not highlighting this, instead insisting on glamour. They can’t see how various sections of society have been given adequate representation among office-bearers. We have Tapir Gao from Arunachal Pradesh and Arjun Munda from Jharkhand representing the tribals, and a woman like Vasundhara Raje.

Critics say cosmetic changes have been made while those who criticised the party after the Lok Sabha results have been dropped.
This is all a figment of imagination and is absolutely untrue. The team has been decided upon after a wide consultation.

But aren’t some senior leaders rebelling?
See, whenever there will be a large party and a big country like India, there will be some kind of grievances. I don’t want to comment on any individual. All that I want to say is that the party president has openly stated that if anyone has any grievances, he can go and talk to him anytime.

It is said that Gadkari has given quotas to party bigwigs and the RSS.
That’s a futile accusation. After all, many of us are from the RSS. However, the RSS has never demanded any quota as such. There is no bias at all in the selection procedure.

Leaders like CP Thakur, Shatrughan Sinha and Shahnawaz Hussain say you are too junior to be made chief spokesperson.
I am very specifically not commenting on any individual. The only thing I want to say about this is that I am an activist from my younger days. I have been a student leader since the 1970s and have been a part of the JP movement. I was imprisoned and have also held various positions in the youth wing of the BJP, Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad. Beyond this, I have nothing to say to prove my seniority.

Critics have accused Gadkari of not selecting leaders from Bihar who won with record margins.
That’s not true. The team is an effective blend of youth, women and experience. Due respect and consideration will be given to all of them.

Young leaders like Varun Gandhi have reportedly been accommodated on the RSS’ insistence?
I don’t agree with that. The team members have been selected on merit.

‘We have given representation to women, tribals, Dalits and the extremely backward sections’

There is inadequate representation from the south.
That’s not true.

Will this controversy affect the party’s chances in Bihar?
I don’t think so. We will surely win given the kind of work the NDA government has done in Bihar.

It seems all is not well in the BJP.
There are no differences. It’s a challenge and all the party members are going to face it together.

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