INTERVIEW WITH Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid for Teekhi Baat on IBN 7. In a wide ranging interview, Khurshid answered the questions on the ‘legislative paralysis’ in the UPA, the hardening stance of the bureaucracy and leadership of the Congress party in 2014 elections.
PC: You are law minister, do you feel that the law and order situation is fine in the country
SK: Law and order is different from law
PC: Law is not fine, order is
SK: Please see, law is a very big field, and order related to law courts, judges
PC: Yes, am asking about that, some problems are happening.
SK: Please see, in a changing society, where the expectations of the people are changing, where there are conflicts, different opinions of people, you will see a reflection of it somewhere.
PC: Law is troubling the government these days, even people, both of them
SK: Law is not troubling; one has to make an attempt to understand. Be it government, common man or an organisation, when society undergoes a change, and the results of a changing society show up, somewhere there is a situation where conflicts arise.
PC: It means there is a conflict between the government and at the moment
SK: There is no conflict. Like this time the debate which is on, in court, is about the media, that what kind of curbs should be there on media. Now there are different opinions on this issue, people are submitting their opinion before the court, people are telling their opinions outside the court.
PC: It seems this has been initiated from your side, because you are irritated with the media and want curbs
SK: No, no,no,no, there is no question on having curbs on the media, but the court is worried about one thing, that whatever matters are before the court, investigations are done and after that a case is before the court, now before the court takes a decision, the media announces a decision. This is not the right thing, in any set up, this is not fair.
PC: Congress ministers and Modi, are both telling one thing, that the trial is being run by the media.
SK: No, this is not issue concerning India only, you see in America, England, Australia, where all the government has used powers of contempt to say that you don’t take decisions pertaining to things that we have to take decision on. This is a true thing. For example, if there is an allegation against us, that allegations should be proved, who will prove that, that will only be proven in the court, and before it is proven in the court you people (media) create such an environment that in the court that decision…
PC: Let me do one Teekhi Baat, you feel that media trial is going on many times these days.
SK: It is not that media trial is happening all the time,
PC: We are over stepping out limits, that is troubling you.
SK: Somewhere, it is a cause of worry. There is no doubt about that, otherwise why would the Supreme Court listen to the matter for so many days. But to say that there should be total curbs on the media, media has no right to tell anything, that will not be fair. Want can constitute a balanced set up, in this arena even the people in media have a view, other people, Judges have their views. What will be the common ground among all these opinions, and what should be there, this will take the issue ahead.
PC: The issue was law against you, public against you, now you feel the media is against you, now that three people are there to bash you up, do you feel wounded, irritated,
SK: Not at all, but I will certainly say that sometimes one feels that road is being made for what all one wants to do. Sometimes, when you want to do things there are roadblocks.
SK: If they come, then some way has to be found out. Be it through discussion, or using ones one brain or understanding the emotions of the people, then change our strategy accordingly. This all has to be done.
PC: In UP you were bashed up, you will say I am being harsh
SK: We were bashed up, you have seen that when people are bashed up there, in what manner the are bashed up.
PC: That kind of bashing up you are not facing some others are these days. But I am taking about am talking about political bashing up.
SK: Please see, this word, when we had won 22 seats in the last parliamentary elections, from UP, we never heard the work that somebody was bashed up. That Mayawati was bashed up.
PC: Mayawati’s seats and yours were almost the same.
SK: Mayawati was being talked about in terms of 65 seats, but won 18.
PC: That was an assumption
SK: It was less than 50.
PC: You lost elections in UP, then you lost elections in Delhi, in Mumbai,
SK: What happened in Malegaon, Bhiwandi, Latur, we have won in all those places.
PC: If one takes 32 by elections in total, you have lost 23 of them
SK: Some where we lost somewhere we won.
PC: You have lost in many places
SK: We won by elections in Gujarat, in Karnataka,
PC: In Gujarat, since Modi has been chosen this time, you have lost 70 per cent by election.
SK: Please listen, we had not won the seat for 30 years, but won it this time.
PC: You leader of opposition lost in Delhi after 30 years, this is no parameter, where you win you say you are ‘sikander’
SK: I am not speaking of any parameter, we will win somewhere, lose somewhere. There is no such condition, environment in the country today, that one party, be it one party or any opposition party,
PC: You are a senior minister, Punjab, UP, Delhi, Mumbai,
SK: What have we lost in Punjab,
PC: In 40 years for the first time a government was repeated.
SK: I agree, if we would have won 11,000 more votes, then we would have formed the government.
PC: This is fine, but who formed the government. Now, you have 206 seats from 542 and are sitting the government. That is also a way of forming the government, the government is yours.
SK: The government is ours, because nobody else can form it. Let anybody make, who wants to form.
PC: It votes of others are counted, they are more than you
SK: That will be there all the time. The opposition gets 70 per cent and the one who is in government gets 30 per cent.
PC: People are shying away from voting you to power again. What is the reason for the same, please tell me.
SK: What is the cause of so much worry, when elections would be held, we will come again, or somebody else be there.
PC: Now you are losing elections back to back, even though you are burning the midnight oil sitting in till 12 pm giving interviews.
SK: If we would fear then we would be in hiding, not giving interviews at 12
PC: What do you feel the reason for the loss, corruption or inflation, I feel it is inflation, I may be wrong.
SK: People believe that there in an issue of inflation. But I will say the same thing again, in transforming economy and society, inflation would be zero, such a thing is not possible.
PC: But the speed of growth of inflation can be less
SK: It is somewhat increasing, now you have taught economics, then you know that in any society, which is developed, in that four to five per cent inflations is there, because if it does not increase then your development does not happen.
PC: But purchasing power should increase more than the inflation.
SK: Has the purchasing power not increased in rural areas? You see then whole world was facing economic depression, then purchasing power in our rural areas had increased.
PC: Now the planning commission says that the number of people below poverty line has increased.
SK: I am not saying, economists are saying that in your rule, the number of poor people have increased.
PC: Poor is becoming poorer and the rich are growing too rich.
SK: This nobody has said. But certainly there has been discussion, that where should the poverty line be drawn, that is being discussed, nobody has said that the number of poor are growing.
PC: Planning commission has given numbers
SK: No, no,no,no the numbers have not increased. Nowhere it has been said that the number of poor has increased. But it is certainly that
PC: The number poor has increased
SK: The population of the whole country has increased. The main question now is that is our rate of growth increasing. Are we able to reach those people where earlier we were not able to reach. Tell me if today National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) is there, it is there for somebody, it is reaching somewhere. Now we are talking about food security today, that will reach somewhere.
PC: That all is being looted, Rajiv Gandhi used to say that only 85 paise out of every rupee is siphoned off. That is happening, if that was not happening, then people in UP would not have made you lose, in Delhi would not have made you lose.
SK: This is not the case, this is not the lone reason for winning and losing, there are many reasons.
SK: I can tell about UP
PC: Please tell about UP, you will say Rahul Gandhi is not responsible, you three ministers are responsible.
SK: No, no, no, no see with the leader, there is an army, they expect something from us that we will do something, if we are not able to do, everybody of us has to contribute something. If we have interference in some place, then we must have to have a contribution.
PC: Rahul Gandhi, your leader, your army chief, you were his general
SK: We believe that
PC: You did not perform as per Rahul’s expectations.
SK: We agree we didn’t perform as per expectations. His expectation was that we would deliver, but we couldn’t.
PC: Hence, he trusted you wrongly.
SK: It is a different thing where he trusted us wrongly or rightly. Whenever a cricket team loses…
PC: Roaming the streets, doing hard work
SK: We believe that what Rahul Gandhiji did and what we did with him, you see the last elections, what has happened in Uttar Pradesh
PC: Tell me one seedhi seedhi, teekhi, teekhi baat that why you lost in UP, in one sentence.
SK: If anybody can tell about UP in a sentence, he would be a genius. But we made a well thought out strategy for Uttar Pradesh and that strategy was not successful. The reason for the same is that the people voting in Uttar Pradesh, today, when they think about the centre, they think something different, for the state they think something different. An I think, it is sachchi baat, it is not teekhi,
SK: If we were in a condition to say it today, that we have the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, we have Rahul Gandhi, the results would have been different.
PC: It is true
SK: But this, after he saying that I am here and will be here, you will see that I will be with you, even after that people know that his work is national. They believe that his work is of national stature. And then who face can they get, they liked among others, they liked Mulayam Singhji the most, like or felt most influential. I don’t believe that this election would have won without the face of Mulayam Singh Yadav.
PC: You mean to say that if Rahul Gandhi would have been your face then the elections results would have been different.
SK: Please see, this is what we believe.
SK: We and our common worker has the same assessment.
PC: That if Rahul Gandhi would have been projected.
SK: There was no question of projecting him. If he was ready for it, if he would have said it, but we also agree that it was not possible for him to say,
PC: You have decided a national role for him. But you feel if a face like him would be there, then you would have succeeded in winning there. You have no leader like Rahul the local level.
PC: You have on national level, but there was no Rahul at the local level
SK: Without doubt
PC: Salman Khurshid, Beni Prasad Verma, Raj Babar in comparison to Rahul
SK: No question of them being in any comparison. We are not in that race
PC: Why did you lose in Delhi? You have the face of Sheila Dikshit in Delhi
SK: We have not lost the assembly in Delhi.
PC: She was leading
SK: Please listen, last time we had lost MCD, Sheilaji won assembly after that, before that she won an assembly and after that also she won an assembly. Hence, you done see Sheilaji and MCD election together at all. We could not win in MCD, even last time we did not win, but we won assembly.
PC: No, you have done work, people can see it in Delhi but you credibility is lessening, I mean to say that you are in the government, but don’t have power.
SK: Who has it
PC: Officers have power, Singh, Quraishi saab, but you don’t have anything. Quraishi say that you don’t do anything, are law minister, have been given so many recommendations of reforms, electoral reforms, but you are sitting on it, he has written letters and given speeches on this issue.
SK: No, this is not the case, he doest say anything like this
PC: He said it on Teekhi Baat with me
SK: Ten time in my presence he has said that we understand the government’s compulsions. This time Loklpal bill had taken a lot of time, otherwise we know that we would have on electoral reforms
PC: He said on TV that the government in the past ten years has not spoken for reforms, electoral reforms letters are laying.
SK: No, no, no, no see I am not ready to believe, because, in my presence, and I can show you media clips that he has said,
PC: That it is the government’s compulsion
SK: No, no, no, no he has said that we are greateful that the government and then I was not the law minister then with him
PC: No I am talking about two months ago, he said they are sitting on reforms for so many years. The government is not interest in electoral reforms.
SK: Electoral reforms the government cannot do, electoral reforms will be done by all parties together. And he also knows this thing, we have said that the Prime Minister will get all people together.
PC: You hold is lessening:
PC: General V.K Singh says that there is corruption
PC: An anti government mood forms
SK: General V.K Singh is a very good chief of a very good army of the world.
PC: Honest chief
SK: He is the chief and an honest chief. He has highlighted those lacunae which are there in the system, and are on for a long time. To remove those , alone civilian authority, is not possible, till the army does not clean up its own house, and the army should clean up its own house and we want to encourage them for the same. And we will give them full co operation.
PC: Now, yesterday, your chief economic advisor Kaushik Basu, goes to America and starts speaking the language spoken there. He says that reforms cannot happen in the government, forget it till 2014. He gave a clarification later, blamed the media. Coalition compulsion, is it
SK: He did not say that. Coalition is a reality.
PC: V.K Singh, Quraishi, Kaushik Basu,
SK: Why you are talking of Quraishi saab
PC: I will speak what he has told to me on national television. Or you say, it is run on national television.
SK: Do you see only your channel on tv, not some other channel
PC: I am saying what I have been told now you are saying you have been told
SK: I will give you a tape of what he has told me
PC: The question is that such big people are exposing the government. The Babu, who reports to the political authority, he today is more credible than you.
SK: Don’t make constitutional authority a babu, they would have been babus.
PC: Bureaucracy is not a constitutional authority,
SK: Election commission is a constitutional authority
PC: Yes, that its
SK: Election commission is a constitutional authority, army has its own existence. It is true that the army is under civilian authority. But army has in identity you cannot directly interfere,
PC: I am saying that these institutions, judiciary, army chief, chief election commission
SK: What judiciary
PC: In judiciary also directives, observations pertaining to your performance keep on coming, even in CAG
SK: What not, it should happen, it is the judiciary. Judiciary should do are scrutiny.
PC: Judiciary, CAG, Army chief, CEC , all
SK: What is the worry.
PC: Because of all you are losing elections, they are exposing you.
SK: We are not losing elections because of that. They are exposing us and others too, CAG has given report on Gujarat too.
PC: On Chattisgarh too
PC: But not much noise on those reports
SK: Because, you are talking about the reports pertaining to us, but not talking about those reports.
PC: Some coal scandal happened
SK: No coal scandal happened. Please see, one set up was continuing, there is a need for change in that set up. We have ourselves initiated the offer of starting the transformation process. But how much and what transformation should happen, at what speed, there can be different opinion on this.
PC: This is one issue, now the new problem that is facing you
PC: Baba Ramdev
SK: Where is Baba Ramdev
PC: and Anna Hazare have come on one stage
SK: No, no it is a good thing,
PC: You were in divide and rule committee, you broke them now they are together, you head ache has increased.
SK: No, the head ache has not increased. The people who have presumed, that there is a need for change in our system, we on a lot of their expectations, we think they are right. But the ways to achieve them, those can be different. On that issue, there is a difference between us and them, there is no doubt about that. We think that whatever you goals, the ways to achieve them, that in the current constitutional set up, should be done in its ambit, not outside it, this is what we believe.
PC: Will Lokpal bill come this time
SK: Lokpal bill will be tabled
PC: Now there is a session of 15 days, you four Sundays are gone you are left with 19 to 29 working hours
SK: Let there be 19 or 20 hours, when we have taken support from everybody and discussed with everybody, and have talked of taking everybody together. The one main issue of Lokayukta that was being raised, that Lokayukta the states should look into, the state assemblies should look into, that we have accepted.
PC: CBI should be under Lokpal’s ambit, other things like how will the Lokayukta be selected
SK: There are some small differences on that issue, but will be sorted out, but we will bring the bill,
PC: I saw a list, 70 of your bills are pending from the past four years. Earlier people have talked about paralysis, now you have legislative paralysis. This government cannot even make laws. 70 bills are pending and not being passed.
SK: You know the parliament has worked for how many days.
PC: It is the job of the government to run the parliament, if you fail in that
SK: Yes, it cannot be run with a stick in the hand. All together have to make the parliament run but if one main opposition party decides that we do not want to let the parliament run. When parliament will not function, then how will legislation be passed.
PC: You are saying that it is the opposition’s job to ensure the parliament is run
SK: No, it is opposition and the government together who have the job of seeing that the parliament is functional. Just the government cannot make the parliament function, both have together to make it function. And in a situation where one doesn’t have two third majority, in a place where one has wafer thin majority, or in one house only. These are all problems, these all have to be considered. If you close your eyes and say that these will not be considered .
PC: One last question I want to ask you, the slogan of secularism that you give every time, that even that slogan has started failing
PC: At one place Modi, Jaylalitha and Naveen Patnaik are getting photographed and discussing how to corner the government
SK: That is a footage
PC: No footage, there was a discussion, and a statement was issued
SK: Have their hearts met or
PC: Isn’t it a warning bell for you
PC: Mulayam and Mamta, your allies, one is giving outside support, the other is inside. Naveen Patnaik, Jaylalaita and Modi are three different representatives, all three are against you, bureaucracy is against you,
SK: What will they do if they are not against us, they have their own constituencies their own states, there people have their own expectations. If they don’t do this then what will they do.
PC: Don’t you feel that your leadership has failed in taking your alliance together, top leadership is going weak, not growing strong, or is getting inactive.
SK: I don’t agree with this, I don’t agree with this, I think that everything is not just to show or is done if only you are ready to do it. The Prime Minister has made it clear many times, the condition we are working in, is not an easy situation, but even then we are working towards our goal.
PC: First time it so happened that the decisions of the country were announced from Kolkata or some other state. Earlier, it never used to happen. What decision union cabinet is going to take, the chief minister there announces that, that this is going to happen
SK: Earlier this would not happen because such kind of coalitions were not formed earlier
PC: Vajpayjee had headed a coalition
SK: When Vajpayjee leaded then what used to happen
PC: But state chief ministers did not announce the decision of the centre, yes, they used to blackmail but
SK: No, no, no, no, the issue is not of announcing decisions of the centre, they say that we will agree on this thing, not agree on that thing. This is because they have their own compulsions. Even then they used to say, today too they are saying. But if the media is more widespread today, media is affecting our lives more today, then you don’t say that people who used to do something (dissent) then are doing more of it now, earlier they used to do less. But I agree that the role of media is increasing in our democracy and because of that the things which were not revealed earlier to a great extent, are being revealed now
PC: Because of coalition compulsions, the government is seeming weak
SK: No, no it is not weak.
PC: Is ineffective, or cannot full work.
SK: It is neither ineffective nor weak, government and the way the coalition is, the government has contributed to it. If the government is elected with full majority, then the way of working of such a government, and the way its talks about in various situations is different, which is different in a coalition.
PC: You would have run the government in a better manner had you been alone
SK: No, would have run a different government then. The coalition government is a different one. There would be some difference between the two.
PC: The Prime Minister said there are coalition compulsions, because of which many decisions cannot be taken. Don’t you agree with the Prime Minister?
SK: No, no,no,no I have said initially that when the Prime Minister has said, now how can you go ahead of what he said. Prime Minister said that the face and formation of a coalition is different, and the one of majority government is different. Now to put if’s and but’s to it, saying good or bad, side ways and upside down will not benefit. Everybody knows, it is a reality, that coalition government is different, majority government is different.
PC: Will you win 2014 elections,
SK: We will win
PC: Because you have exposed Rahul Gandhi more in UP, he has taken more responsibility, he did not succeed. Before that he had been to Gujarat, even there he did not succeed. Do you think your trump card Rahul Gandhi is still there?
SK: Have you ever heard Rahulji’s speeches, what has he said, when he had come to Uttar Pradesh, he said, ‘I know, I know that one does not win every time, but I am not going to accept defeat..”
SK: “I have come here and will change the set up here and give to the people, let it take one year, or twenty years”. With such confidence, in today’s India, let any young leader stand up and say such a thing, you will give him some credit.
PC: Yes, he said, but people did not support him
SK: Yes, he did…
PC: Do you feel that you will fight the 2014 election under his leadership and will win.
SK: I have full confidence, we will win, and why will we not win?
PC: Every party has confidence, but their leadership, will come at the forefront and declare a prime ministerial candidate, and then go ahead. The mistake that you did not UP, will you repeat that again, that we don’t have a face even this time.
SK: You will declare the Prime Ministerial candidate, there is no need for us to declare.
PC: I am saying what you said, if there would have been a Rahul like face in UP, then the results would have been different. If at the national level Rahul is the face, only then will things work
SK: Will work or not work, we will talk on that later. What I am saying is that Rahul Gandhiji
PC: You have no authority to announce him Prime Ministerial candidate
SK: No, no I have no authority to announce even one candidate. But the truth is that he will be there at the forefront
PC: Will lead you
SK: He is our general secretary. There is the Congress President, Prime Minister, other senior leaders. And Rahul Gandhiji, in the rainbow coalition of our senior leaders, in the party, he is part of it.
PC: Am asking whether the 2014 election campaign leadership will be done by Rahul Gandhi, because the Prime Minister is in the government, but political leadership is Rahul Gandhi.
SK: He is the leadership, then why is the need for asking this.
PC: We will see
SK: Of course, we will see
PC: Thank you for coming to our studio
SK: Thank you, Prabhuji!