" When a mosquito bites, one feels irritated, but that does not mean that one will leave all work and run behind him,"
Salman Khurshid on Kejriwal
Teekhi Baat with new External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.
PC: Earlier you were law minister, you used to defend the government well, but the language has to be changed for diplomacy. So will the language remain the same or change now.
SK: The language use depends upon the responsibility given to the person.
PC: Will you do less Teekhi Baat now.
SK: Will do less Teeki Baat now, even if my mind is “ Teekha” over some issue. You know how diplomatic language is.
PC: Which means your will be something inside, and something outside.
SK: Will be a same inside and outside. But it is true when one has to choose words, one should see who is sitting in front. Like the way I speak when you sit in front of me, is not the same when is speak to others. And I don’t speak to others the way I speak with you. But you call yourself Teekha, but speak smilingly, that is why I also smile and reply.
PC: Kejriwal again has alleged that your government compromises on sovereignty, foreign banks decide policies here. Don’t you think your credibility is falling and it is difficult to defend when Kejriwal levels allegations?
SK: There is no need to defend everything. Sometimes, people start killing themselves. They are themselves getting exposed and the reality is coming to light, let that happen. We don’t have less resources of give right and spicy replies, am talking about the party, the answer to questions raised Digvijay Singh have not been received as yet. Till his questions are not answered, in don’t think they have right to say anything.
PC: Kejriwal commented that the party is in Ambani’s pocket, no action is taken against them, about corporate control over government.
SK: There is no corporate control over government. Then wouldn’t there be an all round feeling that the corporate sector is very happy with us. Even from them we get to year questions.
PC: From such people who have nothing to do with the government
SK: Before levelling allegations on corporate, first let them tell how much money they have got from corporate, that news is tickling out, whether that money has been deployed rightfully? Wrongfully? We are told that whatever policy decisions we take, we should take that issue to all the panchayats in the country, and take their opinion whether we should go ahead with it or not. I want to ask, before they took money from corporate, did they ask people in villages, that should we take money from him, from this foreign person. Where should we spend this money? Do they send the accounts to every village and show it.
PC: Do you mean to say that team Kejriwal is as tainted as you
SK: I don’t say we are tainted; there may be possibility of some mistake in our functioning. It comes, even if you work this happens, we work this happens. And every mistake has some solution and responsibility. We don’t have worries out some questions being levelled against us in the system, if they have been levelled, we have made the system, we have faith in it, and the system has the right to ask us questions.
PC: They said that you did not investigate Mukesh Ambani, should put HSBC staff in jail.
SK: Who are we to investigate, there is a criminal procedure code, IPC, FEMA, banking laws, authorities, courts, adjudicatory bodies. Now the bodies under whose jurisdiction these issues are, they have right to ask questions, take appropriate action.
PC: But the government did not reply to the allegations made by them
SK: Why would government reply to them, government replies to parliament.
PC: Earlier you used to go to them to answer questions, now you say parliament.
SK: That is right to, If in our country, somebody says that they represent civil society, in a democracy they have right to ask questions, like I answer you, we answer them. But when one turns it into a political stage, when anyone talks of making a party, then why should we answer, then our party will answer. Out party workers will answer, when our party workers answer, they run away, are not ready to face them.
PC: Do you think corporate should explain about the money.
SK: The government is accountable to parliament.
PC: But the income tax department took action against businessmen.
SK: We will answer any questions regarding those in parliament. If anybody feels there is any wrongdoing, they can go to court, we will answer there. But if we answer every person, every day regarding us, and he will refrain from giving any answers regarding himself.
PC: In the whole campaign, Kejriwal is listened to because he has credibility and people think what he says it is truth.
SK: We don’t think the people think it is the truth. We are amongst people, we have seen who people trust. It is true that efforts were made to spread rumours, and we also felt that the rumours may taken to be the truth.
PC: You don’t agree that their credibility is more than yours
SK: We don’t. Thousands and lakhs of time, it will be tested and the truth would be known.
PC: In Congress party Samvad Baithak, it came across that there is a disconnect between the government and the party. In Ms. Gandhi speech it comes across that the party would have to make the government understand this step.
SK: It is true that the main aim of the party is inspired from the party’s thought and the experiences of the party. But in a government, especially a co-alition government, there are many expectations.
PC: It is a Congress government, barely three ministers are from outside.
SK: Even then.
PC: Even they are with you; one should presume that it is a Congress government this time.
SK: If you think this, I thank you, also for your farsightedness. And everybody has one goal, to see a Congress government.
PC: I did not say that, I said that currently it seems the government is a Congress government and not a coalition. Speaking of goals, there is no single goal in your party, everyone speaks a different language.
SK: In a living party, it is not everybody to speak one language and walk in one line. But our perception and boundaries are the same as is of our leadership.
PC: The party top brass said that the ministers should tell how much of the manifesto as been implemented. But one can see many things mentioned in the manifesto have not been implemented.
SK: Not been able to implement some things.
PC: 90 per cent of things have not been implemented.
SK: That is not true. But there are some things which we did not thought would happen, that there would be a global slowdown. Hence the good and bad effects of it.
PC: You take credit for good things but for bad ones
SK: We take responsibility for everything.
PC: Kejriwal also alleged that black money is being allowed to come via FDI and FII route.
SK: We earlier made how many attempts to convert black money into white. We gave exemptions, told people if they get unaccounted money from abroad, questions would not be asked. Pay tax on it up to a limit and get that money back and use it, because in our country, we needed crores and crores to be pumped in.
PC: Which means you will tell all the thieves who took away money to come back. But you raid poor people.
SK: It is not so, when action is taken again poor people, it is taken into consideration whether the act was committed due to helplessness.
PC: Small tax evaders are caught, the ones who took away 25 lakh crores, are not taxed.
SK: Where ever it is possible we act. We cannot send army abroad to do this work.
PC: But you can close accounts, like HSBC was given notice by America for doing wrong things.
SK: HSBC in India as done no wrong thing.
PC: Those who were raided, gave a statement that HSBC’s local employees were contact point to manage HSBC, Geneva accounts. The local employees used to do all deposit and withdrawal work.
SK: If I say in a statement that Kejriwal has kept all this money, would you believe it. Any issue that is silly and just an attempt to create a platform for oneself, that I don’t think you or me should take seriously.
PC: I don’t agree, because the way you are liberal with foreign investment
SK: That is not true, what is GAAR, why did we raise issues regarding Mauritius
PC:You are not implementing it as yet, reviewing it.
SK: In this country many things are passed by parliament, and we again go to parliament.
PC: Your economic policies are based on what will happen in America, New York Stock Exchange, what will industrialists there think, even in diplomacy
SK: What is diplomacy today, the economic diplomacy, the global economic system and our contribution, right and participation in the same.
PC: Will you sell the country’s interest for that
SK: We don’t sell the country’s interest.
PC: On the terms that India allows money, does America allow money on those terms, that you don’t pay tax
SK: The basic thing is reciprocity. What you allow us to do in your country, we will allow you to do in our country.
PC: They don’t allow you to do outsourcing, and here you are saying telling them to come here
SK: We are also not doing outsourcing
PC: You are telling do FDI, take money
SK: We will talk of our interest, they will talk of their interest. We have to see that our neighbour China is receiving many times FDI than what we are. If we don’t do it, where would be growth opportunities for us.
PC: The China tax regime is not like the one here.
SK: China democracy and ours is different.
PC: China does not give the tax concessions that you give
SK: China’s foreign minister does not come for Teekhi Baat, when you get China’s foreign minister for it, I will agree to all that you say.
PC: Many of your ministers are not ready to do Meethi Baat, let alone Teekhi Baat.
SK: All our ministers are ready to speak
PC: As foreign minister you have to deal with Pakistan, and you allowed the players to come, BCCI to make money, ads will come and Pakistani players will take home some dollars. Then the terrorists from there will come and start killing.
SK: We will not allow terrorists to come.
PC: Till date they have not accepted your condition.
SK: Let them accept it or not, but see the condition is not the same which was 10 years ago, five years ago. Today we are successful that America, and all European countries, agree that we have been unfairly attacked and had to face trouble. What we used to say about our problems and feeling of insecurity, that has spread to the whole world now.
PC: But America is keeping on giving aid to Pakistan, like earlier. There are no economic sanctions on them and what transformation happened for you to allow the Pakistani team.
SK: Those who want to play will them will play
PC: But what love happened between us and them that they were called.
SK: Out main aim with respect to Pakistan is that we want to increase our security. The people who have attacked us from Pakistan soil, and killed innocents here, responsibility should be fixed on them and they be punished.
PC: Recently, home minister said that there are people in Pakistan who are shielding people and not helping us. Do you agree with the home minister, are things state sponsored?
SK: We cannot say we got full co-operation from Pakistan, we hope that we will get co-operation on that path that we are going on.
PC: You agree with the home ministers statement.
SK: Certainly, we speak to each other.
PC: Even after that Prime Minister says he will go to Pakistan, provide legitimacy.
SK: The Prime Minister has received an invitation.
PC: Every year it comes, it is a formality. You invite, they also invite.
SK: But the Prime Minister has not taken any decision as of now. What decision the PM will take will be well thought of. At the moment, even I have not met anybody, not even the foreign minister. It is true I met their Prime Minister in Laos, for two-three minutes and he said that I want India and Pakistan to look ahead and not behind. But the issue which we have problems, pain and expectations, we have put it before them.
PC: You mean to say that the PM has not taken a decision on going
SK: When the decision is taken, we will tell you. Such decisions cannot be hidden, when the decision happens, then we will tell you.
PC: Atmosphere is there, if elections are going to happen there in 2013, you would like to go to save their government
SK: I can answer this question to the Prime Minister behind closed doors. It will not be right for me to say anything before the Prime Minster observes things from all angles.
PC: Today you cannot take any decision on today’s date.
SK: Today I will just speak to you
PC: That this is an invitation like all others which are lying
SK: No, it is not merely lying, we are thinking on it. And seeing the system, environment and conditions we take decision, and the most important thing is that the decisions is in the interest of the country and we fulfil the country’s expectations.
PC: Now that Obama has been re-elected and he is considered pro-Pakistan, don’t you think your position would become weak.
SK: They have a well understood policy and we think that they have got great sympathy for us.
PC: Just sympathy
SK: Especially President Obama.
PC: Sympathies with you, money with them.
SK: No the issue of money is different; we are not in need of money.
PC: You said trade is important, aid is not important.
SK: Till when we will spread hands before others, now we are giving, we have given our neighbours, leave Pakistan, we have given to Bangladesh, Sri-lanka and Bhutan, we are giving whatever assistance was can and would keep on giving in Asia and Africa.
PC: Neighbours are not ready to listen to you, you have unsettled relationship with neighbours. Be it Sri Lanka
SK: But they are facing tough times, what has happened in front of them in the past 20 years, we cannot take benefit of the deep scars that have left on all the three sides.
PC: You are not getting permanent membership of UN security council, you did everything to get it
SK: When there will be an atomosphere of change there, then we will become. India cannot go and make new laws.
PC: What is the biggest threat for you, like now Americans are going away from Afghanisation, there is going to be a big problem.
SK: I believe that we have not been directly affected with what happened in Afghanistan. But can affect in our neighbourhood. Our problem is not regarding Afganistan it is somewhere else. You know it is from somewhere else, but because they are all each other’s neighbours. Afganistan, Karzai saab is coming this week, has such great large hearted thoughts about us. He has taken education here, speaks good Hindi and likes seeing Hindi films, but even he is facing very tough situations. Our good wishes and co-operation are with him.
PC: With respect to India’s sovereignty and other issues, what do you see are more of a problem, China or America
SK: No, we will not accept anybody questioning our sovereignty. But one will have to understand that those days are gone when one used to think that by putting oneself behind closed doors, one will think that it is sovereignty. Today all over the world, people have to sit with each other and talk. That is also an indication of sovereignty, if people are sitting across and talking he is talking of equality. You and me are talking about equality, neither my sovereignty is gone, neither yours.
PC: Now you have to fight two battles, outside the boundary of India, and one inside the boundary with Kejriwal type of people, then there , America, Pakistan.
SK: On one hand you are talking of President Obama and President Karzai and where are you talking about Kejriwal.
PC: Kejriwal can spoil your politics, they can spoil your economic system
SK: Sometimes a mosquito bites, one feels irritation, but this does not mean that a person is reading a book, speaking to somehow, doing some work he will leave that and run behind the mosquito, that will be wrong.
PC:You mean you just get minor irritation.
SK: I used to, now don’t even get that
PC: Thank you for coming to our show
SK: Thank you, Prabhuji!