India Not Paranoid About Nepal-China Relation: BJP Leader Jolly At Asia Pacific Summit Interview

Vijay Jolly is a senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the ruling party as well as the largest constituent of the ruling National Democratic Alliance in the federal government of India, also referred to as the union government.

A successful business person, Jolly has an impressive political resume.  For five years — from 2003 to 2008 — he was an MLA (member of legislative assembly) of Delhi representing Saket constituency. Earlier, he was also a Convener of “BJP Overseas Affairs” and “Foreign Cell”. Presently, he is a member of the National Executive Committee of BJP.

In addition, Jolly is a member of the Standing Committee of ICAPP (International Conference of Asian Political Parties), co-chair of International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace, India,  president of Delhi Study Group, a socio-cultural-political NGO, and vice-chairman of International Media Forum, Korea.’

He was in Kathmandu recently to attend the Asia Pacific Summit 2018, where he was one of the speakers. On the sidelines of the Summit on 2nd December 2018, Jolly spoke to Consulting Managing Editor AK Vanprasthi on record on a broad range of issues, including many having important bearing on Nepal-India relations.

During the exclusive interview to Pariwartankhabar.Com, Jolly spoke about his Nepal visits, his formative student days,  the BJP’s ideology and politics, Hinduism, the Belt and Road Initiative of China, many issues having bearing on Nepal-India relations and a host of other questions with total frankness and candor, rare for politicians.

Some editing has been done for grammatical correctness and greater clarity.

Vijaya Jolly shaking hands with Consulting Managing Editor AK Vanprasthi at Media Centre of Asia Pacific Summit 2018, on 2nd December 2018. (Photo : Megaraj Pahadi)

AK Vanprasthi: How do you feel to be in Nepal again?

Vijay Jolly: I consider Nepal to be my “dev bhumi” (pious divine land), my “karma bhumi” (field of action) and my second bhumi (second home). Whenever I come to Nepal I feel like I have come to motherland. I touch the soil of Nepal and put it on my Sagarmatha (Note: Sagarmatha is the Nepali word for Mt. Everest; but he means his head here).

I feel there is a certain amount of connectivity with Nepal. I feel that I was born in Nepal in my last birth. So emotionally, and spiritually I feel connected to Nepal and to the Nepalese. I love Nepal and I love the Nepalese.

AK Vanprasthi: Since when have you been visiting Nepal? When did you make your first visit?

Vijay Jolly: I have been visiting Nepal consecutively since 1999 onwards. So it is nearly 20 years since I have been in connectivity with Nepali brothers and sisters, with Nepali civil society, with Nepali political leaders, with Nepal’s respective prime ministers, from various political parties, right from the days of honorable Mr. Koirala over to the present  day prime minister KP Sharma Oli ji.

AK Vanprasthi: I think you started out as a student leader. Didn’t you?

Vijay Jolly: Yes, I joined the Delhi University in 1977. I had no connection with any political party. But on my first day, I came in contact with the then student leaders of Delhi University and now who are the most important leaders of the Republic of India.

The three younger student leaders with whom I shook hands in 1977 brought about a change in my life.

The first one who impressed me and who said “ghaas kaisi bhi ho chasma hara hona chahiye” (whatever be the color of the grass, the spectacles need to be green) was Rajat Sharma, who is now the chairman of India TV. Sharma later on became the general secretary of Delhi University Students Union. He was one of the most robust Hindi debaters of our times at Delhi University. He now also runs the most popular interview show termed “Aaap Ki Adalat”.

The second person whom I came across in 1977 on the first day of my university was Mr. Vijay Goel, who later on became the president of Delhi University Students Union and later was a minister in Mr. Vajpayee’s government and now also is a minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

The smartest of the three to whom I got introduced wore a leather jacket, black goggles and was proficient in both Hindi and English. He was none other than Mr. Arun Jaitley. He is now the Union Minister for Finance in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

Three days after meeting these young student leaders in 1977, the person that one “Sangh pracharak” (member of Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a right wing Hindu nationalist organization)  Mr. Indres Kumarji came knocking on the doors at Shree Ram College of Commerce was this Vijay Jolly.

Then started my long social, political incarnation with the AVBP (an all India level students’ union) and later on with the students wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Janata Vidyarthi Morcha, and then Bharatiya Janata Party. This association up till now has been 39 year long political association with my political alma mater which is the saffron brigade of India, the Bharatiya Janata Party.

AK Vanprasthi: During early 1980s, the BJP was not much of a big political entity. It was a small entity. Isn’t it?

Vijay Jolly: Yes it is so. We were one of the various political outfits in India. But we were led by none other than the nationalist leaders, Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Mr. L.K. Advani, who were the guiding forces. We never thought that we were working to come to power; we were working for an ideology; we were working for the concept of nationalism. We were working to make Bharat Maa (mother India) strong in that big melee of the political system of the Republic of India.

AK Vanprasthi: You were also president of Delhi University Students’ Union. With the benefit of hindsight, how would you evaluate your career?

Vijay Jolly: I was elected a general secretary of Delhi University Students’ Union in 1979 and I was elected president of DUSU in 1980-81. One thing which I benefitted out of my tenure in Delhi University was that it gave me confidence. It motivated me, an ordinary student of Delhi University. It molded me into a great nationalist postured young mind who had a global outlook and subsequently with good academic background graduating from Shree Ram College of Commerce in commerce and later on studying law in Delhi University and it helped me to truly represent India in various forums — in business, in politics, (and) in social work.

AK Vanprasthi: You were an MLA (member of legislative assembly) in Delhi from 2003 to 2008. Aam Admi Party AAP) has been winning the last two elections in Delhi and the BJP has been decimated  in Delhi. What could be the reason?

Vijay Jolly: I think ups and downs in democracy is a part of the game. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. We have ruled the capital and we have ruled the country. I was a member of Delhi assembly from 2003 to 2008. Those were the days when Delhi BJP was led by a maverick. The then party leadership led by Madan Lal Khurana, Dr. Vijay Kumar Malhotra, Harshvardhan, and Kedarnath Sahani. There used to be a cohesion among the ranks. People worked selflessly for the party. People who joined the party, they never dreamed “kal ham chunab ladenge” (tomorrow we will fight elections).

AK Vanprasthi:  My question was: why did the BJP lose two successive elections in Delhi? AAP decimated you in the elections. What could have been the reasons? Could you analyze it with the benefit of hindsight now?

Vijay Jolly: I think we should be candid enough to admit the defeats sportingly. If we do introspection, we would admit the fact that we faltered and we were defeated because we could not win the confidence of people at large. We could not make them convinced that the BJP was strong inbuilt organizational team in the capital which could lead them and probably due to the fact, the third force, which projected itself as the savior of the downtrodden, as a savior of the minorities, as the savior of the people living in 1642 unauthorized colonies in the capital, which constitute the two-third of the poor population of the capital, they could win the confidence and they could decimate us.

But I can tell you with you a certain conviction that even after getting defeated in last two elections, I as a BJP foot soldier in the capital have not lost hope. We assure, in this political battle of the ballot box, we are sure to put the record straight in the next assembly poll in 2020 and I can assert with conviction that BJP would come to power and be the next ruling party in 2020 after the assembly elections.

They have failed to regularize all the unauthorized colonies. They have failed to provide “24×7 drinking water” to the people of Delhi. They have failed to mitigate the transport problems in the capital though they gave many rosy promises like wifi to all youngsters in all areas of the capital.

They said every month there will be new schools coming up in various parts of the capital, though they have been engaged day in and day out in mudslinging against the Lt. Governor of Delhi, and against the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Mod. Led by the Chief Minister Mr. Arvind Kejriwal, they are only engaged in mudslinging against the political hierarchy and the political opponents.

AK Vanprasthi: On 1st July, 2011, you were appointed BJP’s “Overseas Chief”. What kind of position and role is that?

Vijay Jolly: I was given the charge to spread BJP’s wings in various parts of the globe and right up till the November of 2014, I was able to successfully spread BJP units in 47 countries of the world. There are 3 crore (30 million) non-resident Indians spread all over the world. And organizing those non-resident Indians was the responsibility of the overseas friends of the BJP, of which I was the convener. To keep in touch with them, to engage them, to get them connected with the BJP because they play a very prominent role in the polity of India in connecting the non-resident Indians with their motherland, way back to small cities and towns in India during and after the elections.

AK Vanprasthi: You were also the convener of BJP’s “Foreign Cell”.

Vijay Jolly: Yes, I was. I was involved as BJP overseas affairs convener, the overseas affairs  including the foreign cell till October 2014 and I did my level best  by travelling all over the world including Nepal. We have an Overseas Friends Unit (in Nepal) led by none other than a very hardworking Mrs. Nalini Gyanwali. We have units in America, in the United Kingdom, in France, in Germany, in Kenya, in South Africa, in Indonesia, in Thailand, and in various other parts of the globe.

AK Vanprasthi: Could you please briefly define or summarize BJP’s core ideology?

Vijay Jolly: The core ideology is to empower India, to see that India rises above the caste politics, to see that India is not divided into various religious ethoses, whether it be Hindu, Christian, or Muslim, or whether it is from any other minority group of India.

India is one and the ethos of India is (against starts speaking in Hindi) first we are Indians and then we belong to any state. We can be Biharis (people of the state of Bihar), we can be Maharastriyans (people from the state of Maharashtra), or we could be from UP (the state of Uttar Pradesh). But aside from anything, we are Indians first. We have been working for many years to strengthen the feeling of Indian-ness. And this is the reason why under the leadership of Mr. Amit Shah, the president of Bharatiya Janata party, today BJP is the world’s number one political party.

There are 11 crore (110 million) registered members of BJP in India. With this number, the BJP is the world’s largest political party leaving behind even China’s communist party in the numbers game. This is a small mirror of the expanding size of the BJP.

AK Vanprasthi: What is the role of Hindu or Hinduism in the BJP’s ideology?

Vijay Jolly:  Look, it has been 39 years since I have been connected with  BJP. I am proud to be a Hindu just as a Muslim is proud to belong to the Muslim community. BJP has never pressurized any person of other religions on the basis of their religion.  BJP was not born on the ground of religion, but on the basis of “aadhar bindu” (base point) and cooperation with others. If we have Hindu leaders, then we also have Christian leaders, Muslim leaders as well as Sikh leaders. But our opponents present us as a “Hindu party’ just to malign us.

Since the issue of construction of Ram temple in India was first raised by BJP under the leadership of Mr. Lal Krishna Advani , the leaders of  Congress party and other parties branded BJP and its leadership as “Hinduvadi” (pro-Hindu). However, we still greet them and respect them.

AK Vanprasthi: The representation of Muslims in the BJP or the number of candidates that  BJP endorses in elections has drastically gone down. Isn’t it?

Vijay Jolly: I don’t agree with you, Sir. I don’t agree. You need to check up your statistical records. The union minister for minorities in the federal government (the central or union government)  headed by BJP is Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi (a Muslim). The spokesperson of  BJP, Shah Nawaz Hussein — a Muslim leader who was also a minister in the union government in the past —  is among the front ranking leaders of  BJP . Najma Heptullah (a Muslim woman) is a governor in a north-eastern state.

Today  BJP rules 21 states of India. If both the majority had not voted , together with the minority, for the BJP, it would not have been possible. Therefore, if Hindus voted for us, the Muslims and Christians voted for us as well.

AK Vanprasthi: In the last elections in the Gujrat and Uttar Pradesh states, did you field any Muslim candidates?

Vijay Jolly: Whether we had or not is something that the media does not decide. It was the party’s internal policies based on ground realities and even in Muslim-dominated areas, the BJP candidates won, not the Congress or the Samajwadi Party. In Gujarat, who won? We won. In UP, who won? We won.

AK Vanprasthi: But in Gujarat your numbers came down substantially.

Vijay Jolly: We won. Which party is in power in Gujarat? BJP. In UP, which is the political party (in power)?  BJP.  Whosoever is the ultimate winner takes all.. So our policies are inclusive. We know what the best is for the minorities and we know what the best for the majority is. But the media cannot dictate the terms to us. Nor can the opponents do so.

AK Vanprasthi: What is that “ground reality” that you could not find suitable Muslim candidates in Gujarat or in Uttar Pradesh? You have huge Muslim population in Gujarat and in UP as well. And yet you could not get a few suitable candidates!

Vijay Jolly: You see, I would wish to put the record straight.

Number one, People who are in a winning streak, people who are effective as public representatives, people whom the party’s selection committee deems fit enough to be the candidate, they are selected on the winning criteria rather than their religious connotations.

Number two, BJP is the only political party which does not discriminate candidates on the basis of caste, creed or religion.

AK Vanprasthi: How would you define a “Hindu”, or “Hinduism” or “Hindutva” (Hindu-ness)? What is your understanding of these terminologies?

Vijay Jolly: Firstly, all the three are one. You cannot differentiate the connotation of those three terminologies saying “iskaa matlab kya hai”, “iskaa matlab kya hai” and  “iskaa matlab kya hai” (what is the meaning of this)? (Jolly gestures one figure, then two figures and then three fingers).

All five fingers belong to the same palm and the hand belong to one body. Hindutva and Hinduism teach to walk along together. The definition of Hindutva is to develop understanding  and connect  and associate with even those people who do not believe in Hinduism or Hindutva or their direction. This is done by debate but by compassion, dialogue, understanding, and brotherhood.

A person believing in Hindutva would not say that those who do not associate with our religion or religious beliefs are “kafirs” (unbelievers or disbelievers or infidels), who should be beheaded. I have never read such things (like a call for beheading of kafirs) in any definition or scripture of Hindutva.  Understanding and patience are the need.

AK Vanprasthi:  How would you differentiate Hinduism from Abrahamic religions like Christianity and Islam? Who really is a Hindu?

Vijay Jolly: A Hindu is one who understands others, tolerates others, who respects others’ religions as much as he does his own, and who does not instigate violence against other religions.

AK Vanprasthi:  What is “dharma”?

Vijay Jolly: The person who fulfills his/her responsibility as per his context of birth,  and one who fulfills his/her responsibilities towards the family, the society, and the nation appears to be following his/her “dharma’ or religious traditions, irrespective of any particular religious association – whether the person is associated with Hindu family, or Muslim family, or Christianity.

AK Vanprasthi : Actually what you described is a kind of social role for  human beings. My question was not the social roles of a Hindu, a Muslim or a Christian. My question was: “what is dharma”?

Vijay Jolly: One who fulfills his social responsibilities and does not hurt others while following his traditions would appear to follow his “dharma”, whether he is associated with Hindu religion or Sikh religion or Christian religion or Muslim community.

AK Vanprasthi: You have an NGO called Delhi Study Group?

Vijay Jolly: Yes.

AK Vanprasthi: What do you do in the Delhi Study Group (DSG)?

Vijay Jolly: Talk about local issue, national issues, international problems, organize seminars and symposiums, write working papers, and make people aware about those issues, while remaining in power in India. In DSG, there are members of parliament, members of Delhi legislative assembly, and the present mayor of South Delhi Municipal Corporation. The additional attorney general of India is our patron. A large number of people from different societies of Delhi, diplomats, ex-army men, and journalists are also associated with us and they motivate us to deliver as true Indians.

AK Vanprasthi: Yesterday (1st December)  in the plenary session, you waxed eloquent about Nepal and even “dharti” (land or soil) and about “mitti” (soil), etc. Despite waxing eloquent about Nepal and the Nepalese ”dharti” and despite having very good sentiments for Nepal, what is the reason that the BJP-led Indian government imposed “nakabandi”  (economic blockade) on Nepal three years back. What could be the reason? Can I do a “nakabandi” on my friend or such a close friend, who is so close to my bosom, to my heart, what could be the reason?

(Photo : Megaraj Pahadi)

Vijay Jolly: Let me be very clear and let me clear your wrong notions. India and  Bharatiya Janata Party and my Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi consider Nepal to be a friendly nation and friends never impose any hardships on their neighbors and friends.

There was an agitation by the Nepali citizens who are termed as Madhesis in your own constitution. They were dissatisfied by certain political decisions by the political establishment of Nepal. They were agitating on the Nepal-India border. They successfully stopped the inflow of the essential commodities  and the traffic coming out from the Republic of India into Nepal with various essential supplies including medicines, gas cylinders, edibles and other subject matters.

Instead of engaging them in a meaningful discussion and solving the problems of your own brothers and sisters who were agitating against your own wrong decisions, the then government of the day and its leaders went about accusing India and Bharatiya Janata Party of orchestrating and organizing “nakabandi” at India-Nepal border.

AK Vanprasthi : Do you mean to say that …

Vijay Jolly: Let me, let me complete, let me first complete. At that time and at the peak of the agitation also, I had visited Nepal and I had addressed the press, journalists at the press club and I had very clearly stated the key to the problem is not in New Delhi but it is in Kathmandu.

You discuss with your own citizens of Madhesi origin, political parties, and their leaders within the constitutional framework of Nepal and arrive at solution. Don’t blame India for Nepal’s “nakabandi”. India has never been in favor of hurting Nepal in this way.

AK Vanprasthi: Do you claim or mean to say that India did not impose “nakabandi”?

Vijay Jolly: India never ever imposed any “nakabandi” in Nepal. This is a false accusation leveled against us.

AK Vanprasthi: Then who did it?

Vijay Jolly:  If you have not listened to my statement attentively till now, then re-play the TV interview (that is tape of this interview) and listen.

AK Vanprasthi: There is a view among a section of analysts that because of Indian “nakabandi”,  India angered both the “Madhesis” (people of the plains) and “Pahades” (people of the hills and mountains) as well as the Nepalese government .

You  (Indian government) angered Nepalese government for obvious reasons as it was a “nakabandi”, an economic blockade, and Nepal had to bear a lot of hardships. You angered Pahades as it was a terrible time. People in this part of Nepal (Kathmandu and hills) felt it was a great injustice from a friend or country which claims to have so much of good sentiments for this country.  But you also angered the Madhesis  because ultimately they felt let down.  Initially they (the Madhesis) felt India supported them for constitutional amendment or whatever, but ultimately they felt let down, cheated and dropped in the  soup. Could you please comment?

Vijay Jolly: You see India has always assisted Nepal. India has always helped Nepal. Nepal is India’s closest ally and friendly neighboring country. India has never ever in its wildest dreams ever thought about inflicting even a small wound on a Nepali brother or sister.

For your own ill-conceived policies you people fight and then in your own anger – whether it is the ruling establishment, whether it is the agitating establishment – you misguide the ordinary citizens, not against your own misdoings.  But you misdirect that anger against your immediate neighbor which in this case was a passive, silent, helpful Republic of India, which always stood to help Nepal whether it is in hydro projects, or in getting the rail projects in Nepal.

It is India which helped financially medical augmentation and services in Nepal. It is India which always stood on your side even at the time of the earthquake. Prime Minister Modi was the first major global (leader) in the vicinity of Nepal who responded to that natural calamity in providing help at grassroots level to the ordinary Nepali.

AK Vanprasthi: Do you imply that the Nepalese government misguides its own people?

Vijay Jolly: I would rather say that the need of for the so-called friends in Nepal is to introspect. I don’t want to start another controversy by stating it to the contrary. But the need of the hour is: don’t misguide your own people. India was, India is and India shall always stand by the Nepalese. Imagine, in the last four years of Modi “sarkar” (government) in India, Prime Minister Modi has visited Nepal not once, not twice, not thrice (but) four times.

What four visits by the prime Minster of India show is that Modi and the Indian government have an ocean of love for Nepal and the Nepalese. Recognize that love and reciprocate that. If you don’t reciprocate, and fan anti-Indian sentiments in Nepal, then you won’t be doing injustice to us. Rather you will do injustice to your (Nepal’s) interests and expose your face to us and the world. 

AK Vanpasthi: Would you like to comment upon (the present Nepalese) constitution? Are there or is there anything about which India is unhappy?

Vijay Jolly: Look, to comment upon any country’s constitution would be an parliamentary commentary. The constitution of any country is the (Hindu epic) Ramayana or the Bible of that country. (and) It is for the people of that country and the polity of that country to see that the constitutional document takes care of all majority and minority communities of that country, which constitute the total population of that country. I don’t wish to go any further or go beyond these barriers. It is for the people and the political establishment of Nepal to live up to the words of promises which were made in the parliament.

AK Vanprathi: There is an ‘Eminent Persons’ Group” for looking into Nepal-India relations and for suggesting revisions in treaties, etc. They submitted their report recently I think.  But the rumor or the “news” is that the Indian government has not accepted that document. That document has been prepared by “eminent persons” from both Nepal and India. What could be the reason that the government of India has not accepted the report?

Vijay Jolly: I think if you ask the official spokesperson of the government of India and also the government of Nepal, they would be in a better position to shed light on that particular aspect.

AK Vanprathi: But you happen to be former Convener of BJP’s “Foreign Cell”. (Therefore), could you give your (personal) views on it?

Vijay Jolly: Well you see, in my personal capacity, if I comment on the issue after talking to a cross section of people in Nepal, the real stakeholders – the businessman, the political class, the academicians, the journalists, the ex-diplomats, the student leaders, the people living in Terai as well people living in the Madhes  –  all collaborate and confirm to me that during past two years, none of the so-called “eminent group” which was constituted with the close collaboration of the government of Nepal and the government of India ever called for any level of discussions or suggestions.

If their so-called meetings happened only in Kathmandu or closed doors in New Delhi and only confabulated among the so-called members of that committee, there are certain to be eyebrows and question marks raised regarding the various facets of that particular report which might have been compiled by this “eminent group”. I do not wish to comment any further on this whole subject.

AK Vanprasthi:  There is a rumor — and (I would) call it just a rumor because nothing is official as yet – that the Eminent Persons’ Group has recommended passport and visa requirement to travel to both India and Nepal for people from both the countries, unlike in the past or till now, when Indians and the Nepalese cross the border easily (without any hassles) as there is free movement of people across the border. People from either side cross the border cross to the other side 20 times a day, especially those people who live on both sides of the border. It could be 20 times or just 5 times or one time. I was just giving an example.

If this rumor is true, and if the passport/visa requirement is made mandatory, it would be terrible for people living in the Madhes of Nepal, which borders India and also for Indian nationals living on the Indian side. It would be troublesome, rather extremely inconvenient and problematic for people living on both sides of the fence.

Moreover, a large number of people enter both countries on daily basis for some kind of job, employment or economical activities.

How do you view this recommendation by the Eminent Persons’ Group, if the rumor is true? Would you like to comment in your personal capacity may be because I am aware that you might not like to comment “officially” or you may not be aware of the full details. Would you like to give your opinion?

Vijay Jolly:  Number one, I wish there was representation of the Madhesi community or the Madhesi leadership in the so called Group.

Number two, India (and Nepal) have a very unique relationship and that unique relationship is of “beti and roti ka sambandh” (the relationship of daughter and bread, that is family relationship and economic relationship).

Today in India we have seventy-five lakh (seven and a half million) Nepalese working as equal brothers and sisters, who do not require visa to visit India. Had I been consulted by this so-called “eminent group”, I would have certainly – even in modern times – batted for the status quo to be maintained keeping in view the close relationship between the peoples of Nepal and India which is not of a few years but centuries old.

AK Vanprasthi:  You just used a prefix. The prefix is “so called”. Why did you call it “so called”? (These are) your words.

Vijay Jolly:  I cannot  but refer those people as “so called’ who compile report in closed rooms, those people who do not speak/discuss with actual stakeholders, and those people who have been given many rights  at the government level but who do not fulfill their responsibilities given in apolitical context with certain “dreams” (expectations).

The fact that Prime Minister Modi paid four visits to Nepal is not a small matter. Prime Minster Modi was in favor of giving Nepal-India relationship a new dimension and a new speed. Therefore, he took a significant step to form this “eminent persons’ group” together with (that is in consultation with) the Nepal government. I do not regard it as a welcome sign that the officials and politicians, whom he had entrusted to give direction to this work, could not come up to the mark.

They should have risen up to the demand of the times. They should have gone to the actual areas, (and) districts to get the actual feedback of the people of Nepal and people living on both sides of the fence.

(Photo : Megaraj Pahadi)

AK Vanprasthi: Prime Minster Modi visited Janakpur sometime back, a few months ago. If I remember his speech correctly, he said that our relations are not of today but since “treta yuga” (treta age, that is at least more than seven millennia approximately). It was a very emotionally charged speech. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is going to visit Janakpur very shortly.

Some people representing certain strain of opinion in Nepal are bemused, puzzled, or even suspicious, as to why India is focusing on Janakpur.  These people question if India is trying to impose on us, iIn their words, “Modi model” or “the BJP model” of Hinduism in Nepal with Janakapur as its centre. Would you please comment on it.

Vijay Jolly:  Prime Minister Modi had in the past visited Kashi (the holy city in Uttar Pradesh also known by two other names: Varanasi and Benares) of Kathmandu, the Pashupatinath temple. In order to beautify the premises of Pashupatinath, he extended his personal contribution as well of his government’s.

Now that he goes to Janakpur – which is geographically close to India — to bow down before Maa Janaki (mother Janaki) at Janaki temple and repeats his commitment to  that temple, built in Nepal, and also for the progress of that state. This commitment is further re-confirmed by his (Modi’s) party’s Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath (of Uttar Pradesh state). Don’t see that with suspicion.

Don’t see it from a small spectacle. View it after making the spectacle big (that is big canvas). And see from the vastness of the heart. How much love he has for Nepal and the Nepalese, whether they are located in Kathmandu, or whether they are located in that state, which you just referred to.

AK Vanprasthi: So there is no “special reason” for focusing on Janakpur?

Vijay Jolly: There are no elections now. When there are no elections, it would be wrong to relate any statements of my prime minister or chief minister or their visits to any political events.

AK Vanprasthi: Some people from other states of Nepal raise the question as to why India is focusing on State No. 2, where Janakpur is located, and not in other states like, for example, State No. 4, which is home to Muktinath and where you can find the holy Shaligram stone. Since the days of yore, that state also has been home to seers and sages. These people question, with some element of suspicion also perhaps, why India does not focus on other states which also have holy places and “holy” history.

Vijay Jolly: Modiji went to Sitapur, came to Kathmandu and Muktinath as well. He went with open heart and in the full view of media to offer prayer.

AK VanprasthI: But he did not go to Lumbini.

Vijay Jolly: Do you think it’s a small matter that India’s prime minister visited Nepal four times in four years?

Your prime minister goes to India only when he becomes prime minister. I have not seen them (Nepalese prime ministers) visiting India after becoming the prime minster (that is subsequently). I can also ask you why Nepal’s prime ministers do not visit India again and again. When India’s prime minister comes to Nepal, he gives something, does not take back anything. Remember this.

As far as India is concerned, whenever India talks about giving something to Nepal, it obtains prior permission of Nepal government for that. India does not impose anything on you on the basis of priority (of India).

If the constitutional prime minister of India, or chief minster or ministers make any official visit to any state of Nepal, it is done with the prior consent and concurrence (of Nepal government). Therefore, the people (of Nepal) through this interview must essentially be informed that the visits by constitutionally elected officials of India and Indian leaders are done with the consent of Nepal government and the government machinery.

You yourself decide where your priorities lie. We come from India as a brother to help you by our presence and heart and pocket (meaning bearing own expenses).

AK Vanprasthi: Would you like to comment on the Belt and Road Initiative of China? Some south Asian countries like Pakistan, or even Nepal, don’t have any problems with the BRI. But India seems to have strong reservations about BRI. Would you like to offer comments?

Vijay Jolly: If BRI happens in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, and if the concept of belt and roads (is implemented there), then India had “ghor aapatti” (serious objections) and will continue to have “ghor aapatti” (serious objections).

India is not paranoid about relations between China and Nepal. India’s prime Minister Narendra Modi is the only leader from this region who has extended hands to China in the spirit of friendship. Prime Minister Modi extended warm welcome to Chinese President Xi Jinping both in Delhi and in Gujarat (state).And the Indian prime minster has been repeatedly meeting top Chinese leadership and president, and engaged in talks and dialogue.

India believes that in this sub-continent of Asia, a lasting peace is not possible without the friendship between China and India. But one country, Pakistan, has shown difference in words and deeds.  It has been promoting terrorism and terrorists.

The direct and indirect support of the Chinese (to them)  is a big impediment in relations between India and China. India has been calling to declare Masood an international terrorist by the United Nations but China has been opposing this using veto power. It has remained like a thorn in relations between India and China.

(Photo : Megaraj Pahadi)

AK Vanprasthi: India seems to be unhappy about Nepal joining the BRI. Isn’t it?

Vijay Jolly: Look India has never commented upon Nepal’s relations with China or any other country. Nepal is a sovereign nation. Nepal herself has to decide her direction, the political events and relations with other countries. It is for the Nepalese people and the Nepalese government to decide what kind of relations they want to have with China situated across the Himalayas.

Yesterday, today and in the future as well, India finds itself connected to Nepal because the two countries do not have visa regime. But even today, a visa stamp is required between Nepal  and China (for travelling to either countries).

AK Vanprasthi: Is the BJP-led Indian government going to take some additional steps to further strengthen ties between Nepal and India? If yes, what are those measures? Do you have any ideas if your government is thinking about or mulling over some further steps for further strengthening of relations?

Vijay Jolly: Look, since the last four and a half years after Modiji became the prime minister many steps have been initiated to strengthen relations between Nepal and India. The bus travel from Kathmandu to Delhi will further strengthen ties. Energizing the dormant hydropower projects, exporting surplus electricity to India so that Nepal can earn revenue from India, consolidation relations between Nepal and India at political level, development of highways and infrastructure in Nepal, India is committed to the all-round development of Nepal.

More and more delegations need to be exchanged between India and Nepal at fiscal levels, domestic levels, and cultural levels.

The element of suspicion between the two countries has to be minimized. It would be a huge step for the Modi government and the Oli government to bridge the gap. If we bridge this gap, then I think, no one would try to create a gap between the two countries for next 50 years.

AK Vanprasthi: There is a free movement of goods between Nepal and India. But some people complain that while Indian goods easily enter Nepal, when it is Nepal’s turn to export – for example primary products like agricultural goods – they have to face lots of hurdles, sometimes on the pretext of quarantine, at other times in customs tariff. Therefore, Nepalese exporters feel irritated, troubled and extremely handicapped. How do you see this?

Vijay Jolly: Look, I am of the opinion that the problems at the grassroots level about which you have just drawn attention to can be solved if chiefs of the concerned department are approached and the attention of the Indian ambassador in Kathmandu is drawn in writing. I don’t think this problem cannot be sorted out if the attention of respective chambers of commerce and their office bearers is drawn because the commitment exists on both the sides.

During the present times, the economic relations need to be promoted more than the political relations.

Import as much as you can and also export as much as you can. The greater the flow of foreign direct investment in both the countries, greater will be the progress in both countries. I think the teething problems at the grassroots level can solved because of political and bureaucratic understanding, if the matter is brought to the right place, at right level, and to the right officials.

AK Vanprasthi: One last question. You are such senior leader of BJP. I think Hinduism and “Hindutva” (Hindu-ness) has something to do with BJP or its core ideology. Putting it aside, the present Asia Pacific Summit 2018 is creating huge hullabaloo in Kathmandu. There is uproar among many sections of people in Kathmandu who call it a Christian attack on Hinduism.

The sections of people who are making this accusation say that the hidden agenda of this summit is to facilitate Christianity. These people are surprised that despite you — being a senior leader of BJP from India and a Hindu — are attending such a summit. These people are so surprised and shocked that how come Vijay Jolly is here. I wonder if you are aware of all this.

Today morning, I read a post in the Facebook which called this summit a start of “dharmayudh” (religious war). People are really very shocked that Mr. Vijay Jolly being Vijay Jolly, why he is attending the summit. What are you doing here?

Vijay Jolly: I would wish to clarify that Vijay Jolly is a foot soldier of the BJP. Even a senior BJP functionary like Mr. Shyam Jaju, who is the national vice-president working under Mr. Amit Shah;  the mayor of South Delhi, Mr. Narendra Chawla; the BJP woman leader from Delhi Ms. Shobha Upaddhyaya; three Aam Admi Party elected leaders from the government of Delhi; Rajya Sabha  (Upper House of Indian parliament) members from the Congress Party of India; the Prime Minister of Cambodia Mr. Hun Sen; the former Prime Minister and kisan (farmer) leader Mr. Deve Gowda; the former Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr. Geelani; the present president of Nauru; the head of the state of Samoa; and the speakers of various parliaments, converging in Kathmandu for the Asia Pacific 2018 Nepal, along with Mr. Vijay Jolly who is standing committee member of the ICAPP (International Conference of Asian Political parties) represented by 352 political parties of Asia from 52 nations.

We are here to empower Nepal and to support Nepal. I don’t find any hidden agenda in this particular conference. This might be the internal agenda of the feuding fighting political outfits of Nepal. Had this been so, I as a foot soldier of India, and as a true nationalist leader of India, I Vijay Jolly would have been the first Indian leader to have dissociated myself from any such gathering. It is misplaced, it is untrue.

Please do not bring politics in every sphere of initiatives. Had that been so the former prime minister of Nepal, Mr. Madhav Kumar Nepal , would not have been on the invitational committee.  The prime minister of Nepal, Mr. K.P. Sharma Oli, would not have come to inaugurate this conference had this been one religion agenda in the present times.

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