"The diaspora is engaging, coming forward, shaking hands with India”
What is the party’s message that you carry during your visits?
You see the party’s message is always to reach out and reassure the NRIs in these countries that they are important to the motherland. We tell them that we look towards them, and expect them to support India politically, industrially, diplomatically, and in terms of understanding, friendship and connectivity. We are also happy that NRIs have been granted online voting rights. This will save millions of dollars in travel, time, stay, efforts and energy, especially for those who have gone overseas in quest of employment and education. The message is loud and clear that “India is with NRI, and NRI is with India.”
India has a large population of PIOs in Malaysia. After your visit to this South-east Asian country you mentioned that the Lotus is ready to bloom in Malaysia. Why did you say so?
I visited Malaysia in 2014, a country where we were able to indeed bloom the Lotus flower. When I went to meet the CM of Putrajaya he said that he was impressed by my work for I had managed to expand 2 overseas BJP chapters to 46 chapters across the world. He said in 40 years his political party had not been able to establish a single global chapter. We are with the cause of Hindus in their struggles in Malaysia. We keep in touch with them. We only say shun violence, protest through peaceful means, we are with you. Malaysia is a saga of modernity, infrastructural growth, but it has a lot to answer in terms of human rights. The OFBJP meet in Malaysia was attended by ambassadors of 42 countries, and please allow me to show you their visiting cards which we exchanged so that you know that I am not talking in thin air. Though we did not wish to politicize our visit, we connected with our Hindu and Tamil brothers, and the message was clear, that their rights would not be ignored any longer by India.
What is your experience with OFBJP in the Gulf?
Indians and especially those from south Indian states like Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh are present in the Gulf in large numbers, perhaps due to the proximity factor. We get many messages that they are ill-treated on arrival there, by their companies, by agents. In 2012 we opened the first ever OFBJP chapter in the UAE. We interact extensively with our missions and force them to act at lightning speed in order to alleviate problems.
In northern Europe you travelled to Russia, Ireland and Norway…
In July 2012, soon after I was given full charge as OFBJP’s global convenor, I was able to hold large meetings in the Scandanavian peninsula. We opened our Norway unit and was introduced to their leader of opposition in Parliament at the time who happens to be the Norwegian Prime Minister today. She has come here and increased our connectivity with Norway. In Ireland, I was able to galvanize NRIs, mostly from Punjab and Rajasthan. Our community outreach in Ireland led to connectivity in the Baltic states like Latvia and Lithuania, and also in Poland. In Russia we managed to address a group of 600 people. It was a big step since Indians in Russia had remained alienated from the BJP radar for the past several years. Let me add that in Ukraine too we developed connectivity with several Indians. Though the numbers were relatively small, about 80, at a dinner in Kiev, I do not bother with numbers. I know that these people will spread the word, and once they see that our efforts are genuine, they will always connect with India. Of course, Prime Minister Modi’s larger-than-life image will always be looming before them when they choose to do so.
Do you think the diaspora is ready to engage with India now, or it is still waiting and watching?
I think the waiting and watching is over. This is a period when they are engaging, coming forward, shaking hands. They are getting to understand the ethos of Government of India’s various measures. They also understand that things will not work overnight and that for expectations to fructify into action and results, it will take time. But they also realize that the people of India have given a clear five year mandate with full majority to the Narendra Modi Government, and they know that he will not fail them.
You have been a Delhi politician. Why did BJP lose so badly to AAP, nine months after winning all Lok Sabha constituencies?
I do not wish to comment on that. As a loyal BJP foot soldier in the capital, as a Swyamsevak associated with the BJP for 38 years since 1977, all I can say is that we have never met such a Waterloo. I am very sad, but we are not out.