Monday, April 22, 2013

INTERVIEW with DIGVIJAY SINGH/ The Sunday Standard/IBN7 April 20,2013

Interview with Congress party general secretary Digvijay Singh

PC: You make policies, but in event of a blast, politicization happens?
DS: Like?
PC: What happened in Bangalore today, Shakeel Ahmed said that BJP will benefit. You MoS home said that he does not know exactly, but it may be a CNG blast. Despite guidelines that are issued in the party, do you think blasts should be politicized?
DS: Should not happen at all. An impartial investigation should happen. State government should be careful; it is a BJP government there, and it is matter of thinking if blasts occur in BJP office, in a BJP ruled government. In the last elections in Karnataka, I was campaign in charge there, the day first phase polling was going on, two blasts happened court in Hubli.
PC: Do you mean to say Bangalore blasts are linked to politics
DS: Am talking of co-incidence.
PC: Which Means?
DS: You can infer any meaning but the issue is co-incidence.
PC: If i say Congress party youth wing president MS Bitta was attacked in the Conress party office premises in Congress ruled government.
DS: No, at that time you would know what the situation in Punjab was.  
PC: But the blast targeted at Bitta happened in the youth Congress office
DS: Punjab was drowned in terrorism, but that is not the case with Karnataka. Am not doing politicization, am talking of co-incidence, at the time of elections, blasts happen during the last day of nomination, or first day of polling.
PC: You are raising doubts
DS: Am saying that investigation should be handed over to NIA
PC: When home ministry issued an official statement that this is a terror attack. Even after that Congress party general secretary is saying that it is co-incidence, that whenever elections happened blasts happen, it even happened before last elections. Which means you are engaging in politicization? You have a doubt?
DS:I am saying one thing since 2002, that some Sangh terror activists are involved in terror activities. That thing was proved after they were caught. I am not blaming the whole Sangh, but it had some such people, who were doing these things and I had inputs about it. Now, in the case of Karnataka blasts, the NIA is investigating. NIA should be handed over the investigation.
PC: NIA has reached there. But what you are saying that this incident may not be a terror act, it may have communal forces acting behind it.
DS: Any blast is an act of terror.
PC: But you are saying anybody would have done it
DS: See all the blast incident, whether it is done by Hindu communal, or Muslim communal, only communal elements take up such things, our fight is against communal elements be it by Hindu, Muslims, Sikhs or Christians.
PC: Shakeel Ahmed said BJP will benefit due to Karnataka blasts, you said it is co-incidence. RPN Singh said it is possibly a CNG blast. Do you think this treatment was right?
DS: In this case, I will not speak about their statements. But I will say what happened was unfortunate and the investigation should be immediately handed over to NIA.
PC: But you will not answer my question, a Minister of State for Home saying that it may be a CNG blast.  
DS: What the home minister says is not my responsibility
PC: But it the responsibility of your party.
DS: Every person has a right to tell what he wants to put forth
PC: Shakeel Ahmed is your spokesperson, whom you issue guidelines.
DS: I don’t issue guidelines
PC: The Congress party does it, and you are a responsible member of the planning wing
DS: I don’t have information about what Shakeel Ahmed said
PC: You want like to comment on it
DS: No
PC: You are UP in-charge, not Karnataka, but you distributed tickets there. You are consistent in one thing, that Rahul Gandhi is the Prime Ministerial candidate, other party people keep on changing their stance, be it Hindu terror, be it Rahul Gandhi,
DS: Be it communal Muslim terror, I even speak about that from the start. I was the first chief minister in the country, who took action against SIMI. Other states took action after me taking it. BJP was ruling in Uttar Pradesh then, Rajnath Singh was chief minister, even he took action against SIMI after me. I was the first chief minister to take action against SIMI
PC: It was reported that Digvijay Singh made some guidelines, even after that ministers are issuing such statements, which also means your guidelines are violated somewhere.
DS: It is not so, I have not been asked to form guidelines. I was entrusted work to prepare media strategy and response systems. I made it and submitted.
PC: After that Shakeel Ahmed, RPN Singh gave responses, may be they did not read your guidelines.
DS: I have not given the guidelines; the media committee of AICC has given it.
PC: You were asked to give suggestions by AICC office and you gave it
DS: Yes, I gave suggestions.
PC: You say again and again Rahul Gandhi should become PM. About Karnataka blasts, it looks like co-incidence, why it doesn’t happen at any other time. Leave that, Rahul Gandhi said that he believes in total transparency, made guidelines that such and such people should not get elections tickets, but if one does analysis of Karnatka you gave ticket to 80 plus year old candidates. He said young people will be given tickets. He said relatives should not be given tickets, but a son of former chief minister, and central cabinet minister was given ticket. Your party does opposite of whatever Rahul Gandhi says. Which means he does not have control over the party even now?
DS: We have a ticket distribution process in the party. Block and district committee sends list to state election committee, which is further send to AICC, a screening committee speaks to everyone and sends proposal to central election committee, after which it arrives at a decision of ticket distribution.  You are speaking about the son of a central cabinet minister, in the last elections he lost by merely 1600 votes and he has been continually working there. Now should he right be denied because his father is a minister?
PC: Am not speaking about anybody’s merit, am talking about guideline issued. Rahul Gandhi has said something, something has been written too, that a person who has lost elections with a difference of more than 15,000 votes, or one who has lost elections more than two times will not be given ticket.  Relatives of ministers and chief minister would be avoided in ticket distribution. People with criminal record would not be given ticket. Rahul Gandhi has repeated these four-five guidelines again and again. In Uttarakhand too, you gave tickets to relatives, people with criminal record, what I mean so said that Congress says it will not implement whatever Rahul Gandhi says. Are there two Congress?
DS: As far as Karnataka elections are concerned, I have not done its analysis, because I was not involved in it. But it is true that the inputs come via a democratic process and the best candidate is chosen.
PC: It is written in the constitution that people less than 18 years of age would not be allowed to vote. If you made a guideline, rule, fit people in it,
DS: But referring the guidelines, if we see that there is no other viable candidate there, then the seat cannot remain empty.
PC: In Gujarat also the same thing happened, on 15-20 seats, tickets were issued in violation of guidelines, and you lost elections. May be you could have won if the guidelines had been followed.
DS: But you have to also see the winning percentage of such given tickets.
PC: But if you implemented guidelines fully, the results would have been better
DS: This could be your thinking. But one should see the winning percentage of places where we have violated guidelines.
PC: Rahul Gandhi, your vice president, talks about democratisation, but some party leaders have decided to disobey what he says, fail him and sabotage, which is the impression.
DS: You may be getting such an impression. In politics, guidelines that are made are broad based.
PC: It needs courage to violate guidelines that Rahul Gandhi has made
DS: The Congress president presides over the central election committee, even Rahul Gandhi is there in the central election committee. The state leadership is there, discussions are held, If it is seen that there is a possibility of anybody else winning.
PC: You believe that Rahul Gandhi is your future Prime Minister, in 2014, or later
DS: Firstly, let us get majority. In NDA, they have started fighting for the PM’s post before getting majority. Once we get majority, we will decide on Prime Minister.
PC: Manmohan Singh says indirectly many times that he is available for third term. Earlier he did not say this, these days he does. You feel that a young Prime Minister should come.
DS: These talks are non consequential now, it is no use talking about PM post of 2014, till the country does not vote and give majority.
PC: Rahul Gandhi has been almost given the reins of the party, while Sonaiji is guiding. But why are Rahul Gandhi’s talks not being implemented.
DS: Rahul Gandhi decided that NSUI and Youth Congress elections will be held, it happened in the whole country.
PC: And all chief ministers’ sons became leaders
DS: It is not so
PC: Many places it happened
DS: If free and fair elections are held there, then let the best man win.
PC: In Tamil Nadu, all relatives have been appointed.
DS: Is being a relative of somebody, a disqualification.
PC: But guidelines have been issued
DS: It is clear, broad guidelines are made, and on the basis of broad guidelines, party look at win ability, at the political character of the constituency, and then takes a decision.
PC: Looking at the big picture, to what extent do people listen to Rahul Gandhi in the party. Now he is vice president, earlier he was general secretary like you, now he is senior you, earlier too he was above.
DS: It is clear, Prabhuji, he was given the work of NSUI and Youth Congress, and he did that well.
PC: But there can be discussion what he said then did not happen
DS: He did it.
PC: He got elections held
DS: Congress party youth wing and student wing are one organisation, where free and fair elections are held. Who are getting it done, people like Lyngdoh, Rao, who are known figures as former CEC and member and are impartial.
PC: The slogan in Karnataka is that Congress’s hand is with the wheelchair. Rahul Gandhi has said that 55 should be the average age of candidates, but now 7-8 candidates are over 80. Like Modi is being sabotaged in BJP, are there people like these in Congress who are sabotaging Rahul.
DS: Congress party has unity. One should not speak bad about a person who is sitting on a wheel chair. Don’t physically disabled have a right to contest elections.
PC: They may be the most qualified for the candidature, but the reference here is with regards to old candidates.
DS: Last time in Karnataka, an 88 year old candidate was given ticket, and he won and he is continues till now.
PC: If your 42-44 year old PM candidate chooses 80 year old people
DS: If you see average age of candidates, you will find that the average age of Congress candidates is less.
PC: Once is see the list, I can tell you, I have not seen it now. Don’t you think no one listens to Rahul Gandhi in the government, his thoughts are not implemented? Sharad Pawar said this is not a stable government. Hence, the authority of Congress in the government is one the decline, even in the party. Whatever is happening in the BJP is happening, but even in your party, same thing is happening.
DS: You said Rahul Gandhi is not listened by the government; tell me one thing in with Rahul Gandhi has interfered with the government. He does not interfere in the functioning of the government of India of UPA government because everyone is responsible and accountable to the Prime Minister in the government. It is a UPA government, we are the major dominant partner
PC: Rahul Gandhi neither comments about the government, nor interferes
DS: Certainly he does not interfere.
PC: Hence, if government is performing badly now, Rahul Gandhi has no contribution in it, if he says that, I am not saying.
DS: Tell me one government before UPA one and two which has given so many rights to the Aam Aadmi. Right to Information Act, Right to Education Act, Right to Work Act, Right to Food Security, which government has worked to give so many rights to the people.
PC: There are charges that the most scams surfaced in the tenure of these governments, the CAG or somebody else said, I am not going whether the allegations were true or false, but they surfaced.  
DS: CAG’s own figures have become doubtful, hence I don’t want to talk about it. But in which other scam, the government has not taken strict action. Tell me one government, which has sent minister, secretary, big officers, senior bureaucrats to jail.
PC: After the report surfaced, they were made scapegoats.
DS: It is natural that a criminal will be caught after the crime has been committed. Can they be caught in anticipation, am asking you, only after a crime, arrests will follow, can arrests be made in anticipation.
PC: Now nobody has denied that the law minister call the CBI direction to give him instruction.
DS: It is clear, law minister is sitting, he has a right to talk to speak to attorney general, seek his assistance and file an affidavit.
PC: But agency should not be summoned
DS: It is clear, CBI is directly reporting to the Supreme Court,
PC: You mean they did not wrong
DS: There is no question of interference.
PC: But the direction should not have been called
DS: I don’t have knowledge about it.
PC: Elections are happening, they will happen in Madhya Pradesh too, you are not in charge there, but you will interfere there somewhat. As it is there is a BJP candidate for Prime Minister’s post there.  
DS: It is clear, am a resident of Madhya Pradesh, I started politics from there and whatever I got, it got from there. Hence I will try my best to see that Congress government forms in Madhya Pradesh, and we contest elections together.
PC: Is there any chance, do you have any leader there, since you have come here and your 10 year abstinence is also over.
DS: In 1993, I was PCC president, Arjun Singh, Madhavrao Scindia, Kamal Nath, Moti Vora, Shamacharan Shukla, Vidyacharan Shukla, I was a simple man.
PC: But tell me the comparable names now, you don’t send Jyotiraditya Scindia there, project him as CM candidate.
DS: We don’t project anybody, was I projected in 1993? Was I projected in 1998? It is clear, Congress part does not declare its chief ministerial and prime ministerial candidate in assembly and lok sabha elections because in parliamentary democracy newly elected representatives should have right to elect their leader.
PC: They always decide that the party president will decide  
DS: But their view is taken.
PC: From 37 years am doing journalism, always the decision is left to the Congress president.
DS: In 1993 elections, Shyamacharanji and I were elected, and I became chief minister. In 2008 in Rajasthan, by the same method,
PC: Even there they decided to leave the decision to the Congress president
DS: They do it, that is our way of working. There is clear cut democracy, we send an observer, MLA’s opinions are sought,
PC: Then opinions are sent to a place where it is pre decided who has to be made
DS: The central leadership is asked, and then they tell us
PC: Like it happened in Uttarakhand. But leave that aside. Sharad Pawarji said that government is not stable, there is a question mark after DMK left, do you agree?
DS: Sharad Pawarji is an experienced leader, hence ask him
PC: But even you are experienced, you are his friend too.  
DS: I was his friend, am his friend and will be his friend. He is senior to me, elder to me, more experienced, whatever he would have said, would have said after giving some thought.
PC: When stability is doubtful, then is he talking about himself.
DS: May be, you ask him
PC: May be, that he may move away, now that you are in minority with outside support.
DS: It is clear, from 2004 till now, media talks about the government falling after a 6 month, year gap, nut now it is clear that every time we have proved our majority.
PC: You want to say elections will happen on time
DS: Elections will happen on time.
PC: Do you feel social media influences election results
DS: The kind of penetration in urban areas, youth, facebook and twitter and internet have, we cannot ignore that section.
PC: You feel telephone will make you win elections, not votes
DS: We will do our vote talk via telephone.
PC: You cannot ignore social media according to you
DS: Cannot ignore.
PC: Thank you for coming to our studio
DS: Thank you. 

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