Monday, March 26, 2012

Class War Divides BJP /The Sunday Standard/ March 25, 2012


Class War Divides BJP, Destroying its Famed Identity and Ideology

If the ruling UPA is in the casualty ward, the BJP is in the intensive care unit fighting for political relevance and survival. Its top leaders, known for targeting each other than their opponents, face serious charges of backing corporate-sponsored Rajya Sabha candidates, defiance from regional satraps and allegations of auctioning tickets for municipal elections. As scandals stumble out of the BJP’s closets, the cadre-based party is confronted with the biggest challenge ever to its identity and credibility. While its leader at 11 Ashoka Road continues to shine in the corporate and chatterati world, the ground is slipping fast beneath the party’s feet.

Office-bearers and candidates for various legislative forums are decided not by state-level leaders but by a culturally and socially close-knit set. They are holding on to the endangered fort of New Delhi, but are losing all state capitals. The BJP has a few leaders, but fewer dedicated workers to take forward the party’s cause. Once an example of cultural cohesiveness, it’s now heading towards the worst class war ever among its top leadership.

The aborted attempt of imported NRI Anshuman Mishra to enter the Rajya Sabha from Jharkhand symbolises the malaise in the BJP. Though BJP President Nitin Gadkari picked him, many members of the so-called High Command endorsed his final candidature. When former finance minister Yashwant Sinha led local leaders in a revolt against Mishra’s imposition, Gadkari was made a convenient scapegoat by those who have never allowed any party president to succeed in the past. It is not the first time a person with corporate connections got a BJP Rajya Sabha nomination. In the past 20 years, over half a dozen money bags and wealthy outsiders were accommodated in Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Rajasthan. Since they were backed and sponsored by the ruling cabal in Delhi, nobody made a noise. One candidate was even returned the huge amount he contributed, when he failed to get a ticket. Even rank outsiders and defectors from other parties were rewarded with seats because they were sponsored not by the president but by the permanent members of the decision-making council.

The attack on Gadkari for promoting Mishra is an extension of the cold war between those who lost out in the race for party president. For the past 20 years, no party president has been allowed to finish his term, or function effectively. Only L K Advani enjoyed complete authority and freedom, but was unable to choose his team. He represents the elitist urban class and was never a threat to them. But all those who succeeded him came from small towns. Murli Manohar Joshi who became BJP boss in 1991 was thrown out within two years. Jana Krishnamurthy, Kushabhau Thakre and Venkaiah Naidu occupied the chair but never enjoyed full powers, and were run down in the media for their failures and misdemeanours because they couldn’t articulate their style and substance. Only Rajnath Singh took on the upper class leaders, to be humiliated later. Gadkari adopted the strategy of creating his own team and giving the organisation a new look. He struck deals with a couple of leaders. They bulldozed state leaderships, including chief ministers, to impose their personal candidates. For example, not a single dissenting voice has been raised in the party over Najma Heptullah’s Rajya Sabha nomination. Except for pedigree, Najma is best known for hosting sumptuous dinners. She doesn’t have even a symbolic following among her own elitist clan. While S S Ahluwalia, most active and effective deputy leader in the Upper House, fell victim to rivalry between top leaders, rootless leader Ravi Shankar Prasad has been renominated a third time. The buzz in the BJP is, the party now follows the principle of ‘You show me the face, we will find the rules for him or her’. Senior leaders like Arun Shourie and Shatrughan Sinha were denied fresh tickets but Arun Jaitley, Naidu and Prasad have been accommodated because they are a political flock that sticks together. When Gadkari made a few independent moves, those who had failed to capture the organisation by getting their own nominee appointed, targeted him.

The larger message in the class war is, those who control the party have ensured anyone who becomes its president with the full backing of the RSS, fails and falls on the wayside as he nears the end of his term. Gadkari is facing the same fate. The current power struggle is not just about Rajya Sabha nominees, but also about who replaces Gadkari when his term expires end of 2012. The next president will play an important role in the formation and selection of the BJP leadership for 2014. The current round of battle within is a rehearsal for a dangerous class war in the future. Follow me on Twitter @PrabhuChawla

Teekhi Baat with Irfan Khan on IBN7/March 24, 2012

मुझे बिना वजह अपनी न्यूज बनाना नहीं आताः इरफान

बॉलीवुड से लेकर हॉलीवुड तक में अपनी अभिनय क्षमता का लोहा मनवा चुके अभिनेता इरफान का कहना है कि उन्हें बिना वजह अपनी न्यूज बनाना नहीं आता।

Monday, March 19, 2012

Genetics Beats Cosmetics/The Sunday Standard/March 18, 2012


Moral of the Trivedi Story: Genetics Beats Cosmetics in Indian Politics

Foreign-educated Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi has learnt a few lessons in domestic realpolitik. Unless one owns a political party, mere degree and pedigree doesn’t make an acceptable leader. Trivedi committed the cardinal mistake of using political symbolism to portray himself as a legitimate reformer without his party’s mandate.

A person is known by the company he keeps. Trivedi is mostly seen in the company of corporate leaders, elitist opinion leaders, foreign-educated policymakers and technocrats. Perhaps that is his natural habitat. But he forgot, the company he keeps is anathema to the party that gave him political identity. Even after his 14-year association with the Trinamool Congress (TMC), Trivedi remains an outsider; an alien in an organisation that thrives on pro-poor slogans and ordinary lifestyles. The party has no class. It has only mass. Trivedi arrogantly tried to change the party’s ideology which had made him a minister. He was tolerated for his usefulness in certain invisible quarters. After Mamata Banerjee came to power, many more personalities who have the same utility sprouted in the party.

There is a lesson in Trivedi’s sudden rise and fall from grace. And a method too. Family-owned political parties now rule more than two-thirds of India. Some of them have acquired their democratic mandate on the basis of caste or community appeal. A majority of the two dozen-odd regional parties are run by a single leader who had not just conceived the party but came into power, thanks to his personal appeal and caste-backing. Mamata delivered the TMC. Like there is no Congress without the Gandhis, there is no TMC without Mamata. This rule applies to all other regional parties like DMK, AIADMK, NCP, NC, Indian National Lok Dal, Shiv Sena, JMM, Akali Dal, SP and BSP as well. All are extremely inclusive and socially cohesive parties. They co-opt persons from outside their families or caste only on the basis of utility and nothing else. For example, Manpreet Badal, a suave and well-educated relative of the ruling Badal family, thought he could challenge familial hierarchy. Like Trivedi, he marketed himself as Punjab’s most reformist finance minister ever. He was not only ejected from the party, but failed to win a single seat in the recent Assembly polls. In the SP, the once-seemingly infallible Amar Singh was forced to make way for dynastic succession because he challenged family supremacy. He was a powerful Thakur whose mandate was to provide all facilities and resources necessary to turn the SP into a force to reckon with. His utility ended there. He wasn’t a vote- catcher. Period. Now, Akhilesh Yadav has replaced his father Mulayam and has found many more Amar Singhs who can provide similar utilities without posing a threat to his authority. Mulayam never thought twice before catapulting his son to power as Uttar Pradesh’s youngest chief minister. Other members of the Yadav clan had to cave in.

Even in Bihar, both the Rashtriya Lok Dal and Janata Dal (United) appear to be broad- based, but neither have given important party posts to those who don’t conform to their social or caste contours. Members of land-owning backward communities and relatives dominate both parties. Only Rabri Devi can replace Lalu. Former Union minister Prem Gupta will always remain an outsider in RJD even if he is able to deliver all the utilities for his party’s success. Nand Kumar Singh, a former civil servant and a Thakur, has been rewarded with a sinecure in the State Planning Board for services rendered to Nitish Kumar. But he is not an insider yet. Even in West Bengal, former FICCI functionary Amit Mitra was awarded the finance ministry because he was useful in certain areas. But he can’t spend a paisa without his chief minister’s approval.

The south and west are no exceptions. Raj Thackeray was shown the door by uncle Bal Thackeray because he considered himself the logical heir apparent to the Shiv Sena legacy. Shiv Sena is a brand created by Bal Thackeray who thinks it should be inherited only by his son, Uddhav. Only a Pawar can replace Sharad Pawar as successor. Praful Patel will survive as long as he confines himself to his defined role. J Jayalalithaa threw her former confidante Sasikala out of the house because she and her family took over the functioning of the party and government.

As regional satraps and parties consolidate their control over national politics, individuals with egos bloated over academic degrees, elitist social backgrounds and backers of their own kind will find it difficult to survive in the system. They can be the most efficient delivery boys, but they will perish if they try to alter the genetics or biology of political formations.

prabhuchawla@newindianexpress.comFollow him on Twitter @PrabhuChawla

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A mid term poll is necessary _Sukhibir Singh Badal/Teekhi Baat on IBN7/March 17, 2012

“ A mid term poll is necessary, everybody in the country wants it
today,” said Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal in an exclusive interview for Teekhi Baat on IBN7.

Badal made explosive revelations that he will take up the issue of the mid term poll with the BJP, as it will benefit the country

Our guest for today on Teekhi Baat is new Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab, Sukhbir Singh Badal. Welcome to our studio.

SB: Thank You, Prabhuji!

PC: I said new, because you have taken oath again.

SB: Licence has been renewed.

PC: Licence has been renewed. For how many years, Five

SB: No, now there are more twenty years to go.

PC: 20 years are remaining, what does it mean?

SB: We had a target of 25 years.

PC: You will rule for 25 years.

SB: Yes, five years have passed, more twenty years.

PC: 25 years means, you don’t have any ambitions to go to the centre.

SB: No, no, I have love for Punjab, and will work here.

PC: Tell me one thing, this has been the win of Badal brand, not of Akali Dal. In the brand, there is a combination of a senior brand and junior brand, you have impressed the masses.

SB: The win is of the ‘work’ that has been done. If you would have seen our campaign, we have given one slogan, ‘vote for development’. Earlier, what used to happen, when politicians or political parties used to campaign, they never used to mention the five years that they ruled, they only talk of future, if you give us votes, we will do this and that. There was never a mention of the work that has been done. But in our campaign, we kept the ‘will do’ factor in less number, and kept in front of the people of Punjab ‘what we have done’. We told them you have simultaneously seen two governments, Congress parties and ours. Compare between the two, the one who have worked more, ‘vote for performance’.

PC: What do you think about a 42 year record being broken, here no government repeated, whether Congress or Akali Dal. From inside, you might have felt that ‘we might lose this one’ This record will not be broken, and we will lose. Did this thought ever came to your heart.

SB: This time, from the start, I had confidence because, when I used to go to villages and cities, the response I was getting, our colleagues and team members, they used feel that there is a general impression, media is saying, surveys are saying, that what happens all the time will be repeated. But in my mind, there was a sense of surety,

PC: What was the reason for that?

SB: Response,

PC: Response means

SB: Like media, catches the news, that this news will run. As a politician, from the nerve, the pulse of the people tells us whether the government is happy with us or not.

PC: But people said that if Congress rebels would not have contested, the Congress became the reason for your victory, you did not win on your own. So many rebels stood for elections, they ate into votes, and you won. This is the impression the opposition people are giving that this is not a victory of the Badal’s, it is the victory of the rebels of Congress.

SB: This is a wrong impression, even our rebels have stood for elections. I will give you an example, Manpreet is our rebel, and we won in his constituency. In Amritsar, Tikka was our rebel, and our candidate has won. Even then, Congress lost. This is not a question of rebel. This time the people of Punjab have given a clear message, that if you work, you will come again, if you don’t work, then we will make you come again.

PC: But a lot of corruption charges were levelled against you. Amrinder Singh levelled those,

SB: That was the last time, the politics of Capt. Amrinder Singh, that is based on lies. Tell such a big lie, that the common people will think that there would be some reality in this. Last time they levelled a fabricated allegation, that we have done a corruption of Rs. 35,000 crore. Somebody will think, it will not be 35, but 30, or 3, if not 3, then 1. When he presented the challan, that also fabricated Rs. 79 crore, and we were set free in the case. This time, you would have seen in the past five years, not even scam, scandal happened in Punjab, not even one. Last time, during Amrinder Singh’s tenure, we did not dig our scams, national media did it.

PC: They had negative voting, hence you got positive benefit as you had positive agenda. Now Sukhbir Badal was projected like a young face, and there is a lot of respect for senior Badal, hence there was a good combination. But people had an expectation that you will become chief minister.

SB: I had a clear commitment as a president of the party, before election we held a Moga rally, which was the main rally, in which we had announced, that Sahab Prakash Singh Badal is our chief ministerial candidate. People had doubted, even media had doubted, that after elections he will go back and will say

PC: But young people should come ahead, what is the issue. Badal sahab has done a lot of work, is a very senior politician, there is a lot of respect for him in the country,

SB: We have a habit in the party, we do what we say. There is a faith on Sahab Prakash Singh Badal, and there is faith of the people on us, the manifesto that I had given the last time, we have fully did what we said.

PC: You have done but people expected that a young face will come ahead, even Badal sahab would have wanted , I have done enough work, now my son will go ahead,. In Badal family, fight between the Badals.

SB: This is actually the best combination, this is a lethal combination between Sahab Prakash Singh Badal and me, his experience and my management. The combination of both has become a lethal combination.

PC: He can guide from outside too, in the family is there any fight between Badal’s that no, Sukhbir has to be given more training.

SB: There is no fight among us. Our family is united. You know that Sahab Manpreet Singh Badal is no more in our party. There is unanimity in our party and family. And I wanted from my heart, that Sahab Prakash Singh Badal, who spent his whole life in the service of the people of Punjab, and his experience, Sahab Prakash Singh Badal, I want to say, is like a university, you go to college and school, you learn something everyday, we learn daily from his experience. Hence we want for as long as we can gain from his experience,

PC: Sukhbir, don’t you feel that your shortcomings, till he is there you shortcomings will remain unexposed. Otherwise, when Akhilesh can being chief minister, then why not Sukhbir Singh Badal.

SB: This is not an issue.

PC: This is not for hiding shortcomings and fights.

SB: There are not shortcomings. If there would have been any shortcoming you would have brought it to notice.

PC: When he wants to retire, would you make him last the full term.

SB: Till he wants, till he is fit, till it is there in his mind that he can do it,

PC: That decision has been left upon him when he wants to.

SB: Because we want to gain benefit from his experience.

PC: Experience you will get, if he sits and home and give you experience, he can also scold you, can make you work too, do you think this decision is on him, when he wants to do.

SB: It is on him.

PC: You will wait for his order till then.

SB: It makes no difference, it makes no difference.

PC: But there is one thing, when deputy chief minister is young, then why the average age of the cabinet is more than him. You gave meagre representation with two three young people among fifteen. BJP leaders had a problem in taking oath too, many of your ministers had problem in even climbing stairs, don’t you think young blood should come which should get trained within five years.

SB: If you see our cabinet,

PC: You have eleven ministers.

SB: We have fourteen, among fourteen, seven of them are young, who have come from our youth wing, and those who have come from various organisations. And it is a combination of experience and youth.

PC: This time your seats have increased, many young people have been elected. These four are old, two are new,

SB: Two new have been taken.

PC: Then new people could have come

SB: People who are coming for the first time, we will take them in parliamentary secretariat, so that they get used to the experience of administration.

PC: And secondly its seems that Akali Dal does not have love towards women.

SB: We have one, but will make parliamentary secretary,

PC: But not minister, thus it means that at your place, women are not yet ready to take responsibility of being minister in Akali Dal or you don’t let them go ahead.

SB: No, it is not so,

PC: How many women have won

SB: For our party, four five women have won.

PC: You have given less representation.

SB: No, we had a representation of 11-12, from whom four won.

PC: It was not thirty per cent,

SB: No party has 30 per cent.

PC: Do you believe in 30 per cent quota or no.

SB: No I believe in it.

PC: But don’t give

SB: Like an atmosphere forms, we have cut a senior party leaders name and given ticket to his wife or some other woman candidate.

PC: Neither you have given adequate representation to women, nor young people.

SB: We have given more than last time.

PC: There is only one cabinet minister.

SB: Even last time, we had only one woman cabinet minister.

PC: That means you are not encouraging women more.

SB: The women who have got elected, we want to give them experience. Because running an administration is not an easy job,

PC: One teekhi baat is that you men who got elected, but did not have experience, you have included them, you could have taken women.

SB: The young people whom we have taken, they had experience, they have become MLA’s for the second time, somebody has become for the third time, and that too in young. Many of our MLA’s who were elected last time are of 25,26,27 and 28 years.

PC: That means women in Akali Dal are not so experienced so as to come in government.

SB: We are giving more experience to women in Akali Dal. Experienced women have been given cabinet berth. And we will make chief parliamentary secretary, and give them more representation.

PC: It is fine that you are saying that you gave young people representation. What if I say that it is an old cabinet of a young Deputy chief minister.

SB: No that is not true, if you don’t add up the ages of Sahab Prakash Singh Badal and Chunni Lal then the average age will come down drastically. Because of their experience, our other ministers are in late 60 and late 50s

PC: You say the government will run well, but people say that the government is bankrupt.

SB: This is a wrong impression that has been given.

PC: You have also said about the need for money, you demand a special package from the government.

SB: We are asking for special package because, injustice has been done to us.

PC: You are running a lot of populist schemes.

SB: Populist scheme, because this government is not for the rich and famous. The government is for everybody. What we have to give the people, we have to give. For the middle class, we have planning we have to give them.

PC: How much revenue has increased in the past five years.

SB: Let me give you example of five years. We have three source of revenue

PC: How much has increased.

SB: I am giving that example, one source is VAT, when we came to power in 2007, total VAT of Punjab was Rs. 5000 crore.

PC: Correct, it was Rs. 5000 crore

SB: Today, I have spoken to finance secretary, we are ending the year with Rs. 12500 crores. During the Congress tenure if you see

PC: You are saying it grew from Rs. 5000 crore to Rs. 12,500 crore in five years

SB: Yes

PC: Inflation is linked to VAT, as prices increase, the VAT also increases, then if prices are neutralized, then how your collection has increased.

SB: No, no,no,no,no, it took 60 years to go from 0 to Rs. 5000 crore. Hence, from 0 to Rs. 5000 crore took 60 years and Rs. 5000 crore to Rs. 12,500 crore in five years. Please see the difference.

PC: If you remove inflation.

SB: Even after you remove inflation, hence considering 60 years inflation, it will come negative under the rule of the Congress.

PC: Then there was no VAT, some other system was there.

SB: Secondly, excise, when Capt. Amrinder Singh was chief minister, in five years the total increase was Rs. 70 crore, we have given an increase of Rs. 1600-1700 crore in five years.

PC: Now, from where will the money come.

SB: This all is management, technology, compliance

PC: What will you do, put tax, recovery

SB: It is compliance. The systems which we have introduced,

PC: What is your target recovery for outstanding revenues?

SB: Out target, I spoke to our finance secretary yesterday, from 15000, by end of five years, we should cross 30,000, may be more than 30,000 crore.

PC: There recovery arrears of taxes

SB: Because I didn’t have finance department with me, hence I cannot give you the exact figures. But overall, we don’t have any problem of finances. See, I want to tell one thing, you need ideas, if you have ideas, money comes automatically.

PC: Last time in Teekhi Baat you said last that that the state will become power surplus, because power plants are in pipeline and will start functioning, are they ready now.

SB: They are in final stages, it will take one year, because the cost of one power plant is Rs. 15,000 crore to Rs. 20,000 crore. In the past four years, work is going on as fast speed, within one and a half years, Punjab will be first state in the country, to be power surplus state. Like we have exported wheat and rice, we will be exporting power to other states.

PC: Raw material, gas and

SB: All linkages are ready

PC: Because in twelfth there is not enough gas, coal, mines are closed.

SB: We have got special mines allocated, and we have all tie up.

PC: What is the problem in Punjab, do you think there is any problem, which you have not been able to solve, you will solve it now.

SB: The problem, according to priority of the government,

PC: No law and order

SB: One minute, the biggest priority is administrative reforms. The work that the common man has with the government, my target is within six to eight months, the common man shouldn’t feel the need to go to the government. The systems should be made in such a manner which eliminates bottlenecks completely. Many things have to be outsourced.

PC: You will reduce the role of the government in private lives

SB: Yes, automatic clearances, automatic outsourcing in ways where your work is done within minutes. So, you will see, like the last time when we implemented many things,

PC: Your MLA’s and ministers will not be happy, how will the business run

SB: No, we have a clear thinking, and that is the reason, this Lokpal bill will not eliminate corruption, administrative reforms will eliminate corruption. If the common man has no concern with the government, there will be no corruption. Like the last time, all the tender system all over Punjab, earlier what used to happen, you had to take tender from the department, there used to be lot of corruption. What we did, we did all e tenders, now our plan is for e payments. If there is e tender, e payment, then there is no need to go the government. There is no need for going to any senior officer.

PC: You government is dependent for many things on the central government. Hostile government, because you are saying that you are not getting the money, package you need, because Punjab is a border state hence it should get a lot of things. Don’t you think that till the Akali Dal plays some important role at the centre, till

SB: It is true that our projects, they take so much time in clearance. For example, the international airport at Mohali, its construction and all plans are ready, but they did not let it start because they felt that the Congress government will come and take the credit. You have wasted one year.

PC: You are saying that the centre has stopped your development.

SB: There are many such projects, like the Bhatinda airport, till now it had to start, but they did not let us start, because they were waiting that the government will change and they will do it. Our road projects are lying in the ministry for the past one and a half years even though all clearances are in place, but they felt that if our government starts work, then they will not get credit. Punjab Congress’s all politics is on credit. Our politics is not on credit, we will whatever work is there pertaining to Punjab, as fast as it can happen, then Punjab will benefit.

PC: Tell me one thing, Badal Sahab is the most senior chief minister of the country at this point and time. if all chief minister stood together and take up with the centre that federalism is being attacked, many other things are done, don’t you feel that Badal sahab, using his clout has a senior leader should play a role in taking up the issue at the central level. Getting along with all other chief ministers, should start a campaign against the centre.

SB: No, this campaign is not against centre, this is against policy. We have to do it against policy, what is the reason, the central policy that is being made, that is not state specific. They make a general policy, which benefits many states, but also affects many states badly. But they don’t see who benefits and who loses. They make a policy, it may benefit in Bihar, may be not in Punjab. This policy system has to change.

PC: What I am asking is that like all chief ministers are getting together, four, five six, will Badal sahab get together with those chief ministers and exert pressure or not.

SB: I think it is a good idea, that all must get together and unanimously, we should put forward our problems to the government. Because, chief ministers have a more important role than the central government, chief minister is more nearer to the people, they know more about the problems.

PC: Then Nitish Kumar, Mamta, Jailalitha, getting together with all of them, with Mualayam are you an favour of forming an alliance of chief ministers.

SB: We want all those chief ministers

PC: Anti Congress?

SB: Anti Congress chief ministers, because the policies of the Congress, these policies have failed. From the policies, It seems as the Govt. of India is not working.

PC: I am asking the question in one line, Badal Sahab or you , the group of chief minister that is going to be formed, will you be active in that or not.

SB: No, we want across party lines, all chief ministers should get together, with one mission, that change the policies that are going on for last forty years, which are a deterrent to the development of the states and the country.

PC: Also now chief ministers want a mid term poll, because the government is not listening to you at all and working. It is a lame duck government is what many are saying.

SB: A mid-term poll is necessary. Really the people of the country today want it today, the kind of environment you have seen, Congress, it is a geninue feeling among each and everybody in the country, that this government should be removed immediately. The longer it stays, the more the it will affect the country in a bad manner.

PC: You are in favour of a mid term poll.

SB: Certainly, Certainly.

PC: But BJP is not ready to listen to this as yet. Their stand is not clear whether mid term poll should happen or not.

SB: That we will talk to them,

PC: You will talk, you are partner of NDA

SB: We are partner of NDA, we will all get together, talk and find out,

PC: You will want to do an expansion of NDA also.

SB: Many parties should come, because NDA is a best alternative against Congress. You would have noticed one thing, the chief ministers of NDA, who are repeating their governments, see the chief ministers, who are repeating, are from NDA.

PC: But there is no leader of NDA.

SB: That NDA will sit and decide, that is not an issue.

PC: Don’t you think that till you announce a prime ministerial candidate things will not go forward.

SB: NDA is capable to sit together and decide,

PC: It will be of BJP, the prime minister will be from the BJP all the time.

SB: At the moment, they are the main force in it, the NDA.

PC: But in future too, the main force, whenever the NDA will be there, the main force will be them. If BJP is single largest party, then you will be in favour of BJP Prime Minister.

SB: Why not?

PC: You would like Modiji too, there are no issues, you have no issues with Modi

SB: I have no issues with anybody. We are Indians, our policy is that in this country, people from all religion should get together, in national spirit,

PC: The debate is on that Modi, is capable, although many people are capable to be Prime Minister, you consider Modi also capable to be Prime Minister.

SB: I think lot of people are capable, he is also capable, whatever it is, that NDA will sit together,

PC: He is qualified to become Prime Minister?

SB: At this moment, I cannot say, who is capable and who is not capable, I don’t want you to put words into my mouth.

PC: He is not disqualified?

SB: Nobody is disqualified, even you are not disqualified.

PC: No, I am not going to fight elections.

SB: You can, now days the most political is media. Rajya Sabha, Rajya Sabha

PC: Leave Rajya Sabha, am talking about Lok Sabha candidate. You think that there should be a Prime Ministerial candidate for the NDA

SB: I think this will be decided soon

PC: One question, it is hypothetical, if you would have lost elections, what would you have done

SB: We would do more hard work, analyze, where did we fall short,

PC: You would be ready for a fight

SB: Ready, I am a fighter.

PC: Like Rahul, you also agree that it is your fault

SB: See, when I am leading a party, if there is any problem, then as a leader of the party, it is my responsibility.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Teekhi Baat with Digvijay Singh/March 10, 2012 / IBN7

Interview with Congress general secretary and the architect of the party’s poll strategy in run up to assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Digvijay Singh for Teekhi Baat on IBN7.

PC: In what capacity should I take you and ask questions – general secretary or UP in charge.

DS: Please speak about Digvijay Singh.

PC: Digvijay Singh is Digvijay Singh, but is in news more because of the UP responsibility.

DS: You are free to say what you want to.

PC: Today Rita Bahugunaji offered to resign, in your party, like in every party, there are camps, which are saying that you should have resigned, but you have not offered to do so till now.

DS: Whatever I have talked with the Congress president, why should I reveal that to people.

PC: You have spoken what you had to?

DS: I have done it.

PC: You have not told me whether gave the offer to resign.

DS: Whatever is the decision, which you will come to know from the medium of the official spokesperson of the party.

PC: In how many days would it be known?

DS: It depends on the Congress president and party.

PC: You think that Rahul Gandhi took responsibility, you also have said that it is your responsibility.

DS: The thing is that it is responsibility of all of us. The first thing is that it is not easy task to build the organisation of Congress in Uttar Pradesh. We got good results in Lok Sabha, and after that a lot of work has been done on that. By the medium of our campaign, we told the people of Uttar Pradesh via our campaign to remove the government of Bahujan Samaj Party, and we got success in that.

PC: You were saying time and again that you will form the government.

DS: But, we could not instill confidence in the people, that Uttar Pradesh Congress has the capability, strength, that they will be ready to form an alternative government to Bahujan Samaj Party.

PC: You are saying Uttar Pradesh Congress ,that means Congress party of the country is different, even though big leaders like you went there.

DS: It is natural. The issue is that in Uttar Pradesh, one the one side there is Mayawati, has a stature, one the other hand Mulayamsinghji has a stature, we could not project our leadership of that stature in Uttar Pradesh, it seems that this may have been our weakness.

PC: 20 years have passed since you went out of power in 1990, you had propped up Mulayam, because of VP Singh government, you made him, after that Mulayam Singh became a head ache for you. Don’t you think that so many heavyweights went there, you were in charge of the state for the past four years, you went to every district, did a lot of work, Rahul Gandhi did a lot of work, even after that the organisation was not ready, that means you are also not connected to the grassroots somewhere, you are not connected to the grassroots.

DS: In Uttar Pradesh, fighting with regional parties, from Delhi is not possible. There is ground reality is that till we don’t form a leadership in every village, block, settlement, tehsil, till then baat banegi nayee. Now, in Uttar Pradesh..

PC: How many years will it take, please tell me

DS: Please understand, when did Mulayam Singh start,

PC: Congress there in power for 40 years there.

DS: There were two things, which became the biggest reasons for our weakness in Uttar Pradesh, first was the demolition of the Babri Masjid, and secondly the 300 seats which we gave to Bahujan Samajwadi party, in 1996, we were on 120 seats, because of that the Congress leadership shifted.

PC: You are blaming Narsimha Raoji. When Babri Masjid was demolished, Narsimha Rao was there, when 300 seats were given, Narsimha Rao was there.

DS: I am not blaming anybody. I am saying that we committed two faults,

PC: Wasn’t it a fault to ally with Mulayam Singh in 1989.Wasnt that a fault.

DS: The issue is that that was also a mistake,

PC: It was a fault to compromise with Mulayam.

DS: Please listen what I am telling you. That time Mualyamsinghiji had become Chief Minister with Bharatiya Janta Party’s support, after that when BJP stepped aside, we extended support to Mulayam Singhji, against communal forces. That was also a big reason, and please understand one thing, after 1990 the emergence of regional parties, in this belt, which is known as cow belt, because we could not analyze the political situation there in the right manner.

PC: You are talking of 20 years, why don’t you agree that, in building an organisation, like I was made an editor, that I can make a newspaper successful in three, five years, after five years also if it is not successful, then I have failed

DS: Prabhuji, running a newspaper from one office, and in a state of 18 crore people, that is Uttar Pradesh, building an organisation, both cannot be compared as equal.

PC: Digvijaysinghiji there you had an organisation, you got prime ministers from there, big leaders like KC Panth, Tiwari, VP Singh, Lal Bahadur Shastri, who all should I name, all heavyweight leaders of the Congress.

DS: I am agreeing to what you are saying.

PC: Now Promod Tiwari is there, you cannot replace him.

DS: It is not a question of replacing him, Promod Tiwariji is a person, who has never lost an election from 1980 till now,

PC: All surrounding him lose.

DS: What I have told you earlier, two problems that we faced, but which are slowly getting over now, that was we couldn’t protect Babri Masjid even after being in power in the centre, number two, we fought elections after compromising with the Bahujan Samaj Party, because of that our leadership disintegrated. In the last vidhan sabha, the outgoing vidhan sabha, there were 80 MLA’s of ours in different parties, which some or the other time were in the Congress party.

PC: There are many people who are separated from Congress, they have formed governments too, that is a different issue. But you are not ready to agree that, that the Congress party has no caste there, nor leader, there is issue of Ram and Rahim did not work. This divide and rule politics that you were doing there, you enemies said that Digvijay Singh tried to divide people there, between Hindu –Muslim, backwards, and he failed.

DS: My biggest enemy is communal mindset. Against which I am fighting from the start to finish, we are happy that he communal mindset has lost elections there.

PC: I said that those who raised the Ram issue and Rahim issue lost.

DS: Our votes have increased, their votes have reduced, that is the difference.

PC: You are comparing to 2007.

DS: Yes.

PC: How many votes of yours have reduced since 2009.

DS: In 2009 the issue was national…

PC: Time and again you make us count 22 MP’s, but not the votes.

DS: The issues of national politics are different, and the issues of state politics are different. Let me give you an example, in 1998 March the elections to the parliament were held, the Congress party had bad performance in Madhya Pradesh, six months later vidhan sabha elections happened, I won the elections, Congress party won. And let me tell you today, that by 2014, we will get more than 22 Congress MPs’s from Uttar Pradesh.

PC: That you are saying from the start, first you said that a large number of your candidates will become MLA’s and you will form government, You 22 MP’s have won you 7 MLA’s, in which in Rahul Gandhi’s constituency only two have won, and in Soniaji’s constituency, not even one has won, when there were seven of your candidates there.

DS: The issue is that MLA’s face anti incumbency.

PC: Who were responsible for choosing them?

DS: We were there, I am responsible.

PC: You said candidates were not good this time

DS: I have not said that, I have said that the candidates were facing anti incumbency

PC: Anti incumbency, you have 22 you gave tickets

DS: Many of them lost

PC: The question is that even in Soniaji’s constituency nobody won

DS: I am telling you that the seven people who have lost elections in Soniaji and Rahulji’s constituency, one has lost by 500 votes, rest, seven, all sitting MLA’s lost elections.

PC: Lead is from 15,000 to 50,000, in many constituencies

DS: Yes, it is

PC: That means the number of votes from which Soniaji and Rahulji have won, and comparing to that if we take this vote percentage into account

DS: Prabhuji, a person is fighting elections for Vidhan Sabha, how can you compare him to Rahul Gandhi or Sonia Gandhi.

PC: Because from 1980 till now, one earlier time it happened that two MLA’s won from there. After that even if you lost in the country or UP, you won there.

DS: But that lead is not there, the lead which Soniaji and Rahulji get, they don’t get.

PC: Why don’t you say like Soniaji said that there were lot many leaders there, the selection of candidates was wrong. Many leaders means she was pointing at you, Rahulji.

DS: She had not spoken only of Uttar Pradesh, she had spoken comprehensively for Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Uttar Pradesh.

PC: That there are many leaders

DS: When she was asked whether there is lack of leadership in states, then she said that there is no death of leaders in our party.

PC: There are more leaders, there are too many leaders, to quote her exactly

DS: I agree

PC: Don’t you think that you could win in UP as Rahul Gandhi talked of development and other good issues, after that when Digvijay Singh and Salman Khursheed came, quota, batla house, they talked about creating Hindu Muslim issue

DS: Prabhuji, if you are saying this, then Mulayam Singh had said that they will give 18 per cent reservation. Please listen, he had said that if my government comes then I will take the reservation to 18 per cent. When they did not face an adverse impact then how we have.

PC: Because people believe him more than you

DS: That means that, our decision of quota within quota, was according to a well thought out strategy, because it was clear in the Sachchar Committee report, the representation of minorities in OBC reservation, that is even less than one per cent. Then according..

PC: People believed Mulayam and did not believe you, that means Muslim brothers think that Mulayam Singh is more important for them that you are

DS: Prabhuji, the manner in which you said, that you tried to communalize, that is why you lost elections, you intention was that. So,…

PC: Many people said that if Digvijay would not have raised this issue, then Muslims were with the Congress, they voted for the Congress in parliament elections but this time all of them went with Mulayam

DS: That is not the case, that is not the case, if you see, in the constituencies of minorities, Congress has got a significant vote. Where we used to get 500,1500,2000 votes, there we have got 25,000, 50,000 and 60,000 votes.

PC: You are saying that you got good votes, but the result was 28 seats

DS: Prabhuji, that issue is

PC: Jo jeeta who sikandar hota hain

DS: That is fine in your view, but in our view we have gone ahead, not gone back. And the other thing is that not only the Bharatiya Janta Party has lost vote share, their seats have also become less.

PC: Why are you comparing with them now

DS: They are national party,

PC: They don’t have Rahul Gandhi, they don’t have Sonia Gandhi, they are not having government at centre

DS: Our fight,

PC: Is not against Mulayam Singh, Mayawati

DS: Our fight first is against communal forces, and if communal forces have any symbol, that is BJP.

PC: Even now they are approximately double than you, they have got 47 seats. They why they are more than you, they should have been less.

DS: See their graph, please listen one thing, in the whole what we had said, we said that BSP will get around 80-90 seats, and it will be a big thing if BJP gets 51 seats, but the vote shift that we were trying for, towards Congress, that we couldn’t do, and went to Mulayam.

PC: It means that Mulayam has credibility, they can give a government, you cannot give,

DS: What you are saying is certainly true, but we said that you have experienced between 2002-2007, the kind of goondism that spread, violence spread, the way in which extortion and kidnapping became an industry, what do you want their government.

PC government, now in Andhra Pradesh people are leaving you, you have decreased in Tamil Nadu, in Goa you lost, in Uttarakhand you: In big states the Congress is losing ground, be it UP, where till you don’t increase you tally you will not form a

DS: Achcha, tell me where BJP has increased, where is BJP increasing, I am asking you Prabhuji, has BJP increased anywhere. BJP, Team Anna, Baba Ramdev said that such a great Lokpal Bill has been made, such a big thing was said, and Gen. Khanduri himself lost elections. But I allege that the media underplayed it. If a Congress chief minister would have lost, sitting chief minister, then media would have made a mountain,

PC: You will blame media, that Is fine, hypothetically, in Vajpayee’s constituency, if MLA’s would have lost elections, then it would have been a lead story, but the media has spared Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. It has not been overplayed or underplayed.

DS: No, no, it has been overplayed, but you underplayed the defeat of Khanduriji.

PC: Khanduriji’s loss was shown

DS: Lost, but

PC: Why do you talk of BJP

DS: Because our fight is with BJP

PC: The moment you lose, you start talking about them

DS: If Prabhu Chawla says that in 2014 BJP has lost, then I am happy

PC: No they have lost even in these elections

DS: And even in future, they will lose

PC: Now you are trying to collect people in the name of religion, but people are rejecting you. And accepting regional parties

DS: Regional parties have a limited boundary, if we have any competition, then that is with the BJP. And once Congress party gets more seats than BJP, then other regional parties support.

PC: There are some internal bickering within the Congress, like Sanjay Singh said something, that you had more leaders, diminished returns, one group of people also said that Congress will not get votes in the name of Gandhi. In Gujarat didn’t get, here also wont get.

DS: The first thing I will say, that any senior leader of the Congress party, should not make statements in this manner, we are studying, whatever he has to say, he should tell us, leadership, for that there is a format, forum

PC: Gandhi was a brand and such a good brand Congress was winning elections on their name till now, now from the past two elections it seems, some Congressmen also feel, what you do you feel, can you win elections using the Gandhi name.

DS: Gandhi brand, tell me from 140, we went to 168, from 168 we went to 206, where did Gandhi brand become less,

PC: In UP it is being seen,

DS: Even there we are increasing,

PC: You lost byelections

DS: As far as byelections are concerned, it goes with the ruling party, all byelections BSP won, and this time BSP lost. There is a lot of difference between a byelection and general elections.

PC: So, you think even now the Gandhi brand will work

DS: Certainly, it will do and will do better. Am telling you that in 2014 we will better results than this.

PC: Now your government is dependent upon Mayawati and Mulayam Singh,

DS: That is not the case, there are other regional parties with us,

PC: If these two withdraw support, where will your government go

DS: There is DMK, we have TMC

PC: If these withdraw support, where will your government be

DS: We have majority even after that,

PC: How do you have majority after that

DS: We have TMC, DMK,

PC: There has been voting in the last house, if they withdraw support, the you lose

DS: And where was BJP’s NDA

PC: I am saying, you are depending on them or not

DS: The issue is that the mandate which we have got, 206 we have got, and we need 272 for majority, hence we need 76, for that we have to take support of regional parties,

PC: Will you keep on taking their support

DS: Certainly

PC: You have taken sanyas of 10 years after leaving Madhya Pradesh, you are clean, secular face of Congress party, and now that you have lost elections, after facing defeat, where will Digvijay Singh be,

DS: Digvijay Singh knows his responsibility and abides by it. And whatever state that I am in charge of, there we have not come down but gone up, and in that increase, if my contribution is even a small dot, but I know one thing, wherever I have gone, Congress has not reduced, it has increased,

PC: Digvijay Singh is such a leader who sees a win even when lost. Move ahead slowly.

DS: I say that in Uttar Pradesh, the conditions that are prevailing, it is not easy to work,

PC: It was difficult for you, challenging

DS: It is a challenge

PC: You will keep on getting challenges, thank you for coming to our studio.

DS: Thank you, Prabhuji !