Monday, September 10, 2012

Pawan Kumar Bansal on Teekhi Baat/IBN7/September 08, 2012


"As far as coal block allocation is concerned, there has been no fault"

Interview with Pawan Kumar Bansal, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs
for Teekhi Baat on IBN 7. Excerpts:


PC: From how many years are you Parliamentary Affairs Minister?

PB: Three and a half years

PC: You have been in tension

PB: I have not been in tension, but there are trying times, the work is as such.

PC: I am observing parliament since 25 years, but this time presiding officer said this session of parliament would be remembered for the reason of why work did not happen, isn’t as a minister, this is a taunt on you too.

PB: The taunt is on everybody, because it our body. Common people are elected to parliament from among the people. We go among the people and request people to send us to parliament on that ground that we will take up your issues .But we see more than 70 per cent of the time is wasted. Nobody is and should be satisfied with such performance.

PC: When the presiding officer would say the session would be remembered for what not done, then it is kind of a censure motion against the government that it could not get the work done.

PB: Before the session I took a meeting with the chief whips which we always take. A list of made of all their issues and discussions that need to be held. Speaker takes a meeting with the leaders of the parties, a list pertaining to the same is made. After that we say that every week, we will include discussion on one issue which you say, two calling attention, and other bills will get passed. But before the chairman comes to the house, if the members rush to the well of the house, and raise slogans that we would not even raise on the roadside, then it is not a taunt on the government. But I think we all need to think about the session.

PC: Earlier also time has been wasted, but never in this proportion that the presiding officer had to comment, with 70-80 per cent of the time being wasted. Doesn’t it reflect on the government, its inefficiency?

PB: Many times opposition says we want a discussion on such and such issue, the government says we are talking of rules, and that the discussion should not happen now due to such and such rules. This gives rise to a conflict. Then you can blame the government. But on the first day if the government says that we are to discuss any issue, even on the coal issue, but the opposition says you have numbers, hence whatever motion we bring for discussion, you will make it fall, hence parliament is irrelevant. And for a leader of opposition in parliament to say such a thing,

PC: Even Team Anna said the same; they both are speaking same language

PB: Even outside parliament anybody should not think as such. But if we ourselves think this, the ones who are elected say parliament is irrelevant?

PC: But it is true that the one whose group has majority can bulldoze things

PB: There is no group majority.

PC: But you can defeat, like last time at 12 pm you did not he issue of Lokpal bill. The government has no agenda, when the government wants to run the parliament, it runs

PB: The government makes the agenda, but after that if even 10 people gather in the house and start shouting slogans, the parliament cannot function.

PC: When you got lokpal bill last time, Rajniti Prasad got up

PB: Do you think we are supporting them in the kind of wild remarks that are being made against the Prime Minister?

PC: I am taking about diversion

PB: Diversion happened from Bharatiya Janta Party’s side. Because what happened in Gujarat, Himachal elections, to deflect attention, they want to raise other issues to create an atmosphere of uncertainty and make people believe that parliament is not able to function. Even you began think that somewhere the government wants that the parliament should not function or government is falling short somewhere. It is good that you asked, I have one chance to answer, first day they said that they will not let parliament function, in the past three weeks, they used to take decision whether or not the parliament will function. When somebody used to ask, I used to tell they will tell in the morning after taking a meeting.

PC: The meeting of the opposition

PB: But there was only one party, others did not support. Their coalition partners also said that do discussion. Because, parliament is for discussion, you are talking about brute majority, we don’t even have full majority.

PC: But you have outside support. Last time Rajniti Prasad tore the Lokpal bill, that suited you. This time Mayawati said, you got scheduled caste bill, did not take it to business advisory committee even, but there is doubt on your intention with divisive bills being brought

PB: On the first day of session,when reservation issue was raised, we said we will call on all party meeting on this issue. It was democratic, and not put on by the government. In the all party meeting, all parties, except Samajwadi, all said, it is right. Then PM said we have a common agreement, and we had a commitment in parliament that we will bring the bill after all party meeting.

PC: Other economic bills were pending, was talking about promotion for scheduled castes and others more important?

PB: All bills are in the list. In the advance list we gave, there were 33 bills. Afterwards we lessened it to 18, seven bills are in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. Not even one bill is passed due to noise.

PC: But one bill you got passed

PB: The AIIMS bill, after speaking with them. Because opposition said get it done, as four states are ruled by BJP where AIIMS is to be set up. Admissions of students were over and classes were to start from 15th. For this, it is surprising to say, we took permission from opposition, as a parliamentary affairs minister, I do not like to say this though. But like with this bill, other bills could have been passed too, but they did not do it.

PC: It seems like a understanding between the Congress and BJP

PB: Earlier you were saying there is an understanding on the noise being created. Bills were passed due to agreement between the two.

PC: The commitment is just a show, where political benefit is seen, bills are passed, like they supported AIIMS bill.

PB: It is a show, and they made an attempt to show an atmosphere of uncertainty in parliament. And the biggest thing is they called parliament irrelevant, then tomorrow people will question why Parliament? Now that the session is over I am saying this, the tendency for such things are increasing in the recent years.

PC: The Constitutional body’s existence is lessening, case in point, even you attacked the CAG?

PB: One of our general secretary used strong words. But see what Arun Shourieji said earlier, Idiotic. There should be no selective amnesia; he said we vomit in vomit out, idiotic, sorry peculiar, he knows English well. Arun Jaitleyji said, the generals go to war, not the auditor general. It means that the CAG was told that they are waging a war against the government.

PC: But even you waged a war against the CAG

PB: I am saying, if you say constitutional authority, if their reports are leaked earlier, if people start talking about them before they are tabled in parliament, and speaking on merits, if paragraphs are added which are earlier not in draft reports.

PC: But reports come to you for comments

PB: But find out what changes have been done. But on the issue that you raised, is the parliament not a constitutional authority? Isn’t the Prime Minister a constitutional authority? If baseless attacks can be made against them, but if we talk about a error in the report, I can tell you if there is time that from where 1.86 lakh crore came, if tomorrow says there are so many channels, somebody is in loss somebody is in profit. If somebody totals and says, so much profit has been gained, if these channels would have belonged to Doordarshan, it would be earned so much profit.

PC: You proved that by first saying that there was no loss in spectrum auction, zero loss, following which Chidambaram saab said no loss. When you fixed price at Rs. 14,000 crores, loss is proved

PB: There is a difference between that and this time. Earlier, there are uncertainties in any sector. 15 years ago teledensity was three per cent, there was waiting period of 20 years, Rs. 20,000 was the black money paid for it, now there is phone in each hand.

PC: You are parliamentary affairs minister, your job is to run parliament, last time on spectrum, Supreme Court had to cancel, even now you have said that you will not cancel. But you make it prestige issue every time, opposition demanded cancel license, CBI case has been registered, at least cancel those, there is some issue, middlemen have benefitted.

PB: Don’t make decisions in mind about these issues. Today, government has the responsibility and as to work, not the opposition. One will have to stand by the decisions taken. If somebody has not worked according to agreement regarding coal mine, last time in the budget session it was announced, that an inter ministerial group will look in to the issue. Secondly, if anybody has secured license by cheating, misrepresentation, then legal action would be taken against them. If you say cancel all, of people who have taken hundreds of crores as loan from bank, then the banking sector would collapse.

PC: You said 1.20 lakh crore loan have been taken from banks for power sector. But one of your minister Jairam Ramesh, did not let the mines open but withholding approval, But it is the Prime Minister’s duty

PB: But if the permissions are given, then you will say that environment conservation was not taken care of. The ministries are different

PC: It means that the plan has been passed but there is no land to build the building. This is your policy.

PB: You are rushing to conclusion. According to law, environment clearance has to be taken. Environment ministry gives that no the power ministry, not steel, not cement,

PC: Is there no collective responsibility

PB: That is a different issue. Now they said no go areas, mines are 10 square km at least, there how many people are residing has to be seen

PC: Prime Minister was himself coal minister when blocks were allotted, they were allotted with his signature, even coal minister said in interview to me that coal minister signed on every approval. His job is not to check what is right or wrong, it is the secretary’s job.

PB: File starts from the bottom, we try to read every file even in our ministries, but one file cannot be read and disposed in a day.

PC: If my newspaper has 100’s of wrong news, then I am not a good editor

PB: There is nothing wrong in this case. If somebody gave wrong representation or bought and sold, action would be taken against them.

PC: You say no mistake

PB: No mistake, and let me tell one more thing, you were talking of cancellation, one responsibility is there, if one cancels today all coal licenses that have been given, you know 40,000 mw of electricity is needed by the nation every year for growth, we are not near that figure even when we talk of competing with China

PC: When Shinde saab was minister you added 55,000 MW in five years, he did a record, but 35,000 is non functional because you did not give them coal

PB: This is need to be thought of ,you are giving contradictory views.

PC: You policy does not have a holistic view

PB: The opposition also needs to understand that 18,000 mw held up due to procedure, if we keep on doing if and but, then nothing can happen ahead, in any department,

PC: You are talking all this, but one minister in your government said let everything go to hell I will not grant clearance

PB: It is an issue of environment

PC: But the government is yours

PB: The inference you are drawing is wrong.

PC: Then how that environment minister clear power plants

PB: It is a matter of procedure. Screening committee says that if you put thermal, cement, steel plant, you will be allotted coal block. All this coal should be used up in the plant, not sold in open market. Captive mining, which is the first step, after that they have to take clearances. If clearances are not secured, then it is left out.

PC: if you clear power plants, the environment ministry does it, then it needs coal too?

PB: I am saying that the coal block allottees have to separately take clearances from environment ministry. That is the next step. But the demand to cancel allotments is wrong

PC: But don’t you think with such a honest man heading as the Prime Minister, there have been less number of such honest Prime Ministers, but today his image has taken a beating, even though he may not be responsible for it

PB: It is unfortunate that the opposition thought, if they cannot do anything, and then let’s start attacking the Prime Minister. Goebbles was Hitler’s propaganda secretary, he said if a lie is repeated a thousand times, even one thinks it is the truth. Today, they have even beaten Goebbles, if people have also started feeling, then we are short somewhere. We have to go the people. They talk of road, they have made parliament the road.

PC: They said they will go from Parliament to road

PB: But they turned parliament into a road. But we will not go on road, we will speak via media, speak via party people.

PC: But the image of the Prime Minister has been hurt

PB: It is their attempt, it is unfortunate that not bothering about the national interest, they are trying to malign Prime Minister’s image, not two terms are over,

PC: Mulayam Singh, Left, 400 out of 542 members against you

PB: In parliament debates should happen. It is in national interest. If you keep on cancelling allotments, for the next 20 years, work will not happen. The progress of the nation would stop. Power supply is needed, there are villages where even one electricity pole has not been installed. You said now that in five years 55,000 MW was added, for achieving nations growth addition of 40,000 MW per year is necessary. Last year, 22,500 mw capacity addition happened.

PC: You are not ready to agree that you are alone now

PB: Not at all. But BJP used a grand work, that if we are alone, majestic isolation,

PC: Arun Jaitleyji said

PB: Arun Jaitelyji said I think it is unfortunate to say such a thing about parliament, that even if we are alone, we will think we are royal, we will keep on making noise and not let the parliament function.

PC: But your majestic isolation has happened

PB: Our isolation has not happened. Let a debate happen, see what comes up. Facts should be kept before people

PC: If that is undemocratic, but it is true that you have numbers and you will defeat

PB: It should be before people, I am speaking of facts, not votes

PC: PAC report has not been tabled till now

PB: That all members should see. But this time the issue was what is happening the whole house of parliament, the whole plenary. 70 per cent of the parliament’s time is being wasted.

PC: They say even you did the same when you were in opposition

PB: If I show you those figures, there is a big difference. It is not good, even I do not feel good that it happened earlier. Even than 20 per cent happened, it is not good, everybody should think about it. Parliament should function, if one keeps on blaming, then things will deteriorate further. First time who started to stall parliament, the late Pramod Mahajanji, on telecom issue. In 13th Lok Sabha, 20 per cent time was wasted. In this session which happened, 92 per cent time was wasted. House did not function at all

PC: But what will happen if scandals tumble out?

PB: It is not a scandal, there is a way, presume, there is any report, say CAG, CAG report is not final. One who knows the system understands. Then the CAG report goes to PAC, where members of all parties are members. There discussion happens, then there is final result, which is then debated upon in parliament.

PC: In past two years, no report of PAC is coming out on any issue.

PB: If one becomes partisan and start running on party lines, and not see that there is a bipartisan approach, like has happened earlier. If parliament is run in such a manner, let whatever happen, we will have to tolerate,

PC: Prime Minister was your asset

PB: Don’t pass decision

PC: But what do you feel, will you fight the next elections only on the name of Soniaji

PB: The kind of works done by government cannot be glossed over by only these things. When in the world, in countries like America growth is negative, China is number one, India even today is at number two. The maximum growth rate of NDA has been the minimum growth rate in this government.

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PC: Do you feel that charges against you are politically motivated, you government is the cleanest, blemish less, there is not issue.

PB: I never say anything is blemish less, not even me. But if anybody is at fault, he would be held responsible. But to create such an atmosphere is against democratic principles. A severe damage happens to Constitutional authorities, which should not be done. There is a saying in English, the government must have its way, the opposition must have its say. But they want the opposite, one can see a fascist streak, which is not good.

PC: Will you run the house next time

PB: We will keep on appealing to them. All have to run parliament together. If elections in Gujarat are held after the next parliament session, then they would do the same even in the next session, that I what I feel. But it should not happen. If those elections happen earlier, may be it will run fine.

PC: You are saying next session depends on the timing of Gujarat election

PB: That is for them.

PC: Even for you

PB: There may be issues, but we want our pending bills, many important ones, in the field of education. Outside, BJP says the bill is A class, accreditation, the MBA’ s that people are doing these days, more than 25 per cent don’t get any job,

PC: But you are not ready to agree that you were at fault, you don’t have the responsibility to run parliament.

PB: As far as coal block allocation is concerned, there has been no fault. As far as running the session is concerned, we are ready to talk to them at all times. We are ready to listen to their every point.

PC: But this will keep on happening it seems

PB: It has been 8.5 years, from the first session in last lok sabha they started it, they had a false belief that they would win. They lost, even the India Shining campaign failed, since then they did not allow the session to run

PC: They are not allowing now

PB: Now also they are not allowing.

PC: Now it is your responsibility to run parliament, because voters will ask you. Thank you for coming to our studio

PB: Thank you, Prabhuji !

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