Asha Raje Gaekwad, a member of the Vadodara royal family, believes that Narendra Modi is the only capable leader who can transform India into a developed nation and improve relations with neighbouring countries. In an exclusive conversation with Kiran Tare, Asha Raje Gaekwad, mother-in-law of Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, said she will help Modi become the Prime Minister. Jyotiraditya’s father, the late Madhavrao, was at odds with his mother Vijayaraje over her political stand. Now, there are differences between mother-in-law and son-in-law. Excerpts.
Q. Why are you supporting the BJP?
Asha Raje Gaekwad: I am a Nepali citizen. The BJP has helped the Nepalese in India get good education. We, Nepalese, do connect with the BJP because of its Hindutva ideology and our common beliefs in culture and God. This is for the first time that I am supporting a political party.
Q. Why do you praise Modi when he is mired in so many controversies?
AG: I am from Gujarat. I have seen his good governance in a short period. He is a capable leader and I have full faith in him.
Q. Do you support him because he is a Hindutva mascot?
AG: My ideas about Hindutva are not restricted to Hindus. Hinduism is the most inclusive religion. It is not communal. It does respect everyone. I support Modi because he is a hard-working progressive person. There is love for India in his heart. I believe that India’s relations with Nepal will improve if he becomes the PM. It will be good for my people in Nepal.
Q. Don’t you think Jyotiraditya will be upset with your political stand?
AG: It is my personal view. I am supporting the BJP as an individual. My son-in-law is very capable and hard-working, and doing well for his party.
Q. What are your plans for the BJP?
AG: I am uniting 1.30 crore Nepali voters across India to vote for the party. They are mainly spread across Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka. I have held several meetings and am planning to address campaign rallies too. In Mumbai alone there are 5.5 lakh Nepali voters. They have sizable presence in two of Mumbai’s six Lok Sabha constituencies.
Q. What are you expecting from the BJP in return?
AG: I am demanding a respectful treatment for the Nepalese living in India. They expect only food, clothes and house. I expect the BJP to work in this direction.
Q. Why didn’t you become an Indian citizen even after so many years?
AG: Nepal is my “janmabhoomi” (land of birth) and India is “karmabhoomi” (work place). My country needs my backing. I hope I will be there in future.