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For the last few months, the talk has been about "BJP ka Congressikaran" (BJP donning Congress colours) in Chhattisgarh. Karuna Shukla and several other leaders have left. Do you see a trend?
The BJP has now become equivalent to or an even bigger party than the Congress. Some persons will obviously come in and leave. It has been happening in any political party, but to a lesser extent in the BJP. The BJP is more disciplined... Congress and Communist parties are among the two old parties. They have undergone a vertical division three, four times. But ever since we began our political journey in 1951 as Jan Sangh, we have never faced any vertical division. The arrival or departure of a few persons does not change the basic character of the BJP.
But hasn't this tendency recently increased in Chhattisgarh?
No. Not at all.
You spoke of basic character. The BJP of 1990, the BJP of 2013, how has it evolved?
It has improved.
So, your right-wing stance has softened, been nuanced?
We never considered ourselves right-wing; the media thought us so. I won't be able to respond to this, but I can say the BJP's base has increased.
Where does the Ram Mandir issue stand on your agenda?
We don't consider Ram Mandir an election issue. Yes, we believe it is a national issue, a cultural issue. We also believe it should be resolved. The Allahabad High Court gave a judgment that the temple should be constructed where the Ram Lala idol stands. But some persons have appealed in the Supreme Court. I feel we should wait for the judgment.
In this context, what does the despatch of Amit Shah, who has such a hardliner image, to Uttar Pradesh symbolise?
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