Chennai: The Hindu is the prestigious media house of South India. Its English daily – The Hindu – recently completed 140 years.
In an interview with Bhaskar group’s Dharmendra Singh Bhadoria, the Hindu Publishing Group’s Chairman, author and thinker N. Ram talked about the 2019 general election scenario and possibilities.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q. A grand alliance similar to the one in 1977 appears to be a possibility in 2019. Can only grand alliance defeat BJP. Is there any other option? Or is it difficult to beat Modi?
A. All constitutional institutions are being targeted. CBI, income tax, ED and other agencies are being used to target opposition. Officials are under great pressure. Media is also being targeted as we saw in the case of NDTV. But the situation cannot be compared to Emergency. Lynching incidents are also increasing. In 2014, BJP’s vote share was only 31 per cent. Modi government can be defeated. Mamta Banerjee in West Bengal and regional parties in South India are very strong. BJP can lose Varanasi seat if SP, BSP and Congress form an alliance. BJP can fail in UP. RJD and its associates performed well in by-polls. BJP can emerge as the largest party in 2019 but may not get a clear majority. NDA may also not get majority. Hung parliament appears to be a possibility.
Q. What is the biggest achievement of this government?
A. All powers are with Modi without challenge. No one doubts who is the boss. The government has improved ties with neighbours.
Q. What will be the BJP’s issues for 2019?
A. BJP does not have big issues for 2019. So, they will keep telling that the Opposition is not united and make fun of Rahul. They can focus on Modi’s global image. Modi government was late in launching health scheme. Rahul has become quite aggressive and he can no longer be taken lightly.
Q. What issues Congress will focus on?
A. There are many issues. Misuse of government institutions and failure of the finance ministry. Failure on economic front, problems of the farmers, unemployment will be big issues.
Q. In case SP-BSP form alliance in UP, can BJP repeat its 2014 performance in UP?
A. If there is an alliance in UP, then BJP will win only 15 to 20 seats in the state.
Q. If BJP loses seats in Hindi-speaking states then how will it compensate?
A. Loss of Hindi belt will be difficult to compensate. Right now, it is not possible to say much about Maharashtra. Shiv Sena can do anything at the last minute. There BJP can win more seats. But it will suffer loss in Gujarat as well as UP, Bihar and MP.
Q. Has Religious fundamentalism increased?
A. Yes, it has increased. Riots have also increased. Murder of Gauri Lankesh and rise in incidents of mob lynching prove extremism has increased in Modi’s rule.
Q. How do you view the note ban and GST?
A. Note ban was very foolish and disastrous decision. It affected employment but politically BJP benefited. GST is a very complex issue and it served its purpose partially. But it was not a disaster.
Q. It is felt that journalists are either rightists or leftists or activists. They pronounce verdict like judges. What do you feel?
A. There is no problem if the scribes are rightist or leftist. But they should not indulge in propaganda. They should not mix their views in news. Good journalists and institutions are doing their work well. There are some heroes among us – like Ravish Kumar, who has a voice of his own. There are many others too.
Q. Media is divided. It is either pro-Modi or anti-Modi. Even senior scribes are not neutral.
A. Most of the media has become opportunist. Self-censorship is essential. It is not right to block a channel. Recently media persons met Tamil Nadu CM and requested him to stop blocking of DTH.