Sitharaman on efforts to capture South India votes

Synopsis

“We are working in South India. We are working in Kerala, in Tamil Nadu and in Andhra Pradesh. We will certainly work with the people for getting their voice heard. It will take some time for us to make a very big dent, but our work is on in South,” Sitharaman said in an exclusive interview with the Times Network.

FM Nirmala SitharamanANI
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday said that the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) is working in South India.

“We are working in South India. We are working in Kerala, in Tamil Nadu and in Andhra Pradesh. We will certainly work with the people for getting their voice heard. It will take some time for us to make a very big dent, but our work is on in South,” Sitharaman said in an exclusive interview with the Times Network.

Further, on PM Modi’s chances, the 64-year-old BJP leader said that she is not ‘overconfident’ but can say with a ‘sense of responsibility’ that he will return.

“But as it is I think I can say it with a sense of responsibility, not overconfidence, that Prime Minister Modi is coming,” she said.

Notably, BJP has had complete dominance in the Northern Hindi heartland and Congress now limited to just two states in the South, BJP is now aligning its focus with southern lines. And with its growing vote share in Telangana despite Congress’ recent victory in the state, the saffron party is shifting its focus towards South.

The Finance Minister also reacted to the statement made by Karnataka MP DK Suresh on a separate country for Southern states.

“We completely condemn the statement. Come what may, whatever be the context and this is the Honourable Member of the Parliament, he is a sitting member of the Lok Sabha. Has he ever raised this question in the Lok Sabha? Has he got reply from the ministers? And if he had the data with him would he say his apprehension was wrong?”

Sithraman justified that the formulation of the revenue is given by the Finance Commission and it is strictly followed by the Ministry.

“Let us for a moment think that there was probably something not given. Would you then call for a separation of Southern states from the Union of India?” she said, adding, “Didn’t he swear on Constitution when you entered the parliament?… Has this sitting member forgotten it?”

“He is no less than the brother of the Deputy Chief Minister. Coming from the state to which party’s President Mallikarjun Kharge ji comes from. And if this is the statement, you think is right? It is wrong on every count. Southern states get their due,” she said.

In a rapid fire questionnaire, Sitharaman said that the party’s approach towards the upcoming elections are with the blessings of Lord Ram but on performance.

On the Gyanvapi issue, the BJP leader said, “Economy, people and benefits of the citizens are the top priority [of BJP]. But civilisation issues can never be forgotten.”

She also took a dig at the INDI Alliance, commenting that the alliance is being chipped away at various sides and corners.

On a query on Rahul Gandhi‘s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, Sitharaman said, “Particularly because he is still in West Bengal, you’ve heard Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister speak that [doubts if Congress will get] 40 out of 300 seats and also the fact that she was not even informed. Now agree with her, disagree with her on ideology, isn’t that protocol? Isn’t that the requirement in the INDI Alliance? She’s a partner.”

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Harry Byrne

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