New Delhi: Regional satraps like Mamata Banerjee and Nitish Kumar emerged on the political firmament with BJP and RSS support without which they would not remain strong for long, Union Minister Uma Bharti has said.
The senior BJP leader also said the country was already on course to become 'Congress mukt' (free from Congress) and that the party's dipping fortunes could be attributed to it having remained "captive to a family".
In a free wheeling interview to PTI, Bharti, who had trashed the possibility of Sonia Gandhi becoming the Prime Minister in 2004, said she has "love and respect" for her on a personal level but Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi "does not exist" in her mind.
When reminded how Trinamool Congress and Nitish Kumar-led alliance foiled BJP's expansion plans in West Bengal and Bihar, she said, "Has Mamata Banerjee become what she is just like that? She emerged due to hard work of Sangh workers. Nitish Kumar did not emerge on his own. Nitish, Lalu got
strength from us. They all will gradually become ineffective. Mamata and Nitish will not win next time. Mark my words, we will form government in Bihar next time," she said.
Once the Hindutva mascot of BJP, Bharti was dismissive of regional parties posing any challenge to her party which she said lent its support base to them in the past around which "formidable fronts" were built to take on the Congress.
"We together used to wipe out Congress. Communists and socialist parties do this drama that we are communal. All of them have fought alongside us. In 1977, we came together. In 1966, we came together. We came together in 1989. When was the taboo. When did we not come together. This is all drama and hypocrisy of socialists and communists," she said.
While CPI had supported Congress during Emergency, CPM was opposed to it.
"They think people's memory is short. All of them had come with us when he fought against Congress," she said.
Replying to a question about her party's pitch for a Congress-free India and whether she believed it was happening, Bharti said," Yes, I feel so. I feel the nation is on course to become Congress-free. I clearly see it. In different places regional parties are in power. We will be here for a long time. We will play a long inning. Sooner the Congress realises this the better."
Congress, she said, had adopted a "self-destructive" approach by not allowing leaders from outside the family to grow.
"Congress never allowed any dynamic, youthful, energetic leader with support base to grow. It remained captive to the family and the family's credibility has been finished. They have become a subject of ridicule. Congress had some very strong leaders but they did not give importance to them," she said.
She praised former Prime Minister late Narasimha Rao and said had Congress wished the party could have freed itself from dynastic politics then.
"But all of a sudden Arjun Singh and Narayan Dutt Tiwari played a dirty game and revived the family. The consequence is that the family is getting finished."
Arjun Singh and Tiwari had rebelled and launched 'All India Indira Congress', which played spoilsport during 1996 elections, denying Rao a second term, she said.
To questions about Sonia and Rahul, Bharti said she respects the Congress president because she had come to India as a 'bahu' (daughter-in-law) and continued to live in the country even after her husband Rajiv Gandhi's death.
"She also made a place for her in Indian politics. I also respect her as a woman. I love and respect her on a personal level, though I oppose her politically," Bharti said.
On Rahul Gandhi and his likely elevation as Congress president, she said," Rahul has no existence in my mind. Rest is for their party (to decide). They can make him whatever they like. In my view, he is not even fit for me to comment on."
Asserting that the BJP will form its government in Uttar Pradesh, Bharti ruled out the possibility of the party meeting the same fate as in Bihar.
"In Bihar, there was hardly any possibility of our getting majority. At one time we (BJP), Lalu and Nitish were together. When Lalu became CM for the first time we were all together.
"After that Lalu continued to rule Bihar for 15 years. Then we and Nitish fought together. We made Nitish CM. Then there was a sudden jolt. Nitish and Lalu came together. We did not get time to prepare accordingly after that," she said.
Asked why people will vote BJP to power in UP and not BSP, Bharti said the "prevailing situation will ensure that". She said a "dangerous" situation had prevailed in UP after Mayawati's BSP formed its government in 2007. She claimed in 2012 people wanted to remove Mayawati and, since they believed BJP would not be able to form its government, they voted Samajwadi Party back to power.
"Today, the situation is not like that. We have 72 MPs. Party Chief Amit Shah has made preparations. I will give full credit for it to Amit Shah, his strategy. People do not want SP or BSP now. Now we are ready. We have proved to them that we are ready," she said.
The BJP leader said the electorate was now convinced that Prime Minister Narendra Modi wanted to empower the people.
"Modi is now not merely a Prime Minister but has become a hero. PM is different. He is an administrator. Being hero is something different. People feel he can solve all their problems. So the scene has changed." she said.