By Arnab Goswami TIMES NOW | Friday, 21 March 2008
The present situation is such that the leader of the opposition LK Advani and the President of the Congress party Sonia Gandhi, there is no communication between them at a personal level. Does that not bother you?
It's unfortunate and I wish things change. I don't see anyone in the party who can contributre to such a change. If that doesn't change my relationship with the Prime Minister becomes somewhat strained. He had come once here when I had a 'path bhog'. I sent invitations to all of them and I got a written reply only from Mr Anthony.
Did you send an invitation to Sonia Gandhi?
Yes I did
Would you have picked up the phone and asked her?
I could have. But if only I would have known that there would be a response.
You did not expect a response?
It has been so obvious and evident throughout.
What do you think of Rahul Gandhi and this whole positioning of the next election as LK Advani vs Rahul Gandhi?
I don't have any comment on that. The only occasion when I met him was the talk I had which was reported in the press.
Rahul was very angry. What did you tell him?
He met me in the VIP lounge of the airport and he asked, "What do you think will happen in the country?" It was a general kind of question and my reply was somewhat specific, when I said that only a few days back I met the PM and the UP election results had been announced. I said to the Prime Minister that after the UP verdict, there is a growing feeling in the political circles that the two mainstream parties are shrinking. Cast based parties and regional parties are occupying that space. Rahul asked, "What can be done about this?" I said that the only thing that strikes me is that the two mainstream parties should not regard each others as enemies. Political adversaries, yes. Political opponents, Yes. But not as enemies.
What did Rahul then say to you?
He did not say anything. He was just listening. I would not say anything on the political potential of Rahul Gandhi.
When do you expect the next election?
Until August 2007 it was almost certain that we will have and election in 2009. After that things have been, in respect to the timing of the elections, shaping in such a way as to make people doubt. It may happen immediately, it may happen later. I think the possibility is 2009
When the Gujarat landslide happened, it was seen that this is the formula that Mr Advani will take forward at the center. Is Gujarat and the nature of the campaign in Gujarat, I talk about the focus on Hindutva related issues, the right model for the next national campaign which will be held under your leadership?
I would think that in Gujarat, the issue of Hindutva came up because of the earlier incidents. Otherwise, in this particular elections, the decisive factors were good Governors, development and an honest leader who could deliver. These were the three factors which gave us a landslide in Gujarat.
If I sit with you one year from now, Will I be talking to Prime Minister Advani?
I am optimistic that the BJP will be given a mandate in the next election.