Sachin Pilot, Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology, belongs to the young tuffs of Congress. In an exclusive interview with Swati Chaturvedi on her chat show Kahiye Janab, Pilot shares his views on Bhatta Parsaul, land acquisition, corruption, politics and price hike.
Swati: At a time when elections in Uttar Pradesh are just eight months away, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi astonished everyone by sneaking into Bhatta Parsaul. The Congress, which is now milking farmers’ plight, has never felt the necessity to rake up the issue when farmers were committing suicide from across the country. Why?
Pilot: The situation in Uttar Pradesh is very different. Western UP has witnessed farmers’ agitation a number of times in the recent past. Mayawati-led Uttar Pradesh government curbed those agitations at gun points.
Many politicians were eying the recent incident in Bhatta Parsaul. But Rahul Gandhi was very different. He went there, met the victims, shared their grief and raised their voice. Looking at Rahul’s handling of the issue, the Uttar Pradesh government was desperate and shaken. As a counter offensive, the Mayawati government arrested Rahul under section 151 and put him under preventive custody.
The Uttar Pradesh government is unlawfully acquiring land. Rahul Gandhi has raised a very pertinent issue. He is fighting for the right of poor farmers in UP those who are the victims of government atrocities. The Congress party stands with Rahul Gandhi in his fight for people’s right.
If the any government is forcefully acquiring land anywhere, we as public representatives have the right to protest. It does not matter whether election is today, tomorrow or the day after.
Swati: The Congress party has been accused of playing politics of opportunism. In Maharashtra, farmers are also deprived off their land for Jaitapur nuclear plant project. Many of them are yet to get compensation.
Pilot: Remember, whenever Congress party takes up an issue, it honestly works on the promises. For Jaitapur nuclear project, the Congress government in Maharastra is acquiring land as per the law. While acquiring land, the government is very sensitive towards the right of the displaced people.
In Niyamgiri in Orissa, Congress government nixed a bauxite mining project because it was violating tribal rights.
The UPA government waived 72,000 crores farm loan in the 2008 union budget to address the farmers’ suicide issue. Congress party has brought a number of schemes to empower people.
Swati: What prevented the Congress-led UPA government for bringing the Land Acquisition Act in the Parliament?
Pilot: The UPA government has made up its mind to make changes in the act. The standing committee has already discussed to pass the act.
However, Land Acquisition Act is an all together different issue. The act never says the government can forcefully acquire land. It happened so many times in UP. Cultivated land has been acquired by the UP government with force.
Swati: Congress party has been wiped out in Tamil Nadu. It was a close shave for Congress in Kerala.
Pilot: That notwithstanding, Congress finally won in Kerala. It was a third subsequent victory for the Tarun Gagoi government in Assam. In West Bengal, Congress shared its victory with Trinamool Congress.
Swati: What is the future of Amul babies in Indian politics?
Pilot: You can term us whatever you want. But, till the time peoples’ blessing are with us, we will be elected time and again to the Parliament and Legislative Assemblies.
Remember, Congress party is the only party which encourages youth in politics. Rahul Gandhi has transcended the line of caste and religion. Because of that the youth are attracted towards him.
Swati: A French writer commenting on Indian politics said hereditary MPs are on the rise in the Congress party. Your party has converted democracy into a dynasty politics?
Pilot: If somebody is from a political family, it is not a disqualification for him or her. The party gives ticket on the basis of one’s capability.
India is a country of 120 crore people. I believe politics is performance driven. If you are working for the people, you will win elections.
Swati: Ever since Congress took over the reins of power after independence, it is alleged that the party has been involved in corruption…
Pilot: Congress never brushes up the allegations of corruption. The party upholds a high moral ground on the issue of corruption.
Swati: You are talking about high moral ground. But, your government appointed PJ Thomas as CVC.
Pilot: He was not a member of Congress party. The government had already clarified on the appointment of Thomas as CVC. There was some information on his background which had not been provided by the Kerala government to the centre.
Swati: Congress is running a coalition with DMK, popularly known as Daily Money for Karunanidhi.
Pilot: Investigations into the 2G spectrum scam are on. People involved have been sent to jail. Chargesheets have been filed. PM had said whosesoever involved, whoever he/she might be, won’t be spared. This is a commitment from the government. Law is taking its own course.
Swati: Your party is shielding corruption.
Pilot: Congress never believes in shielding corruption. The party has made up its mind to eradicate the disease of corruption. We believe there should not be any politics on corruption. The government and society should work together in the fight against corruption. The Lokpal draft committee is an effort to this direction.
Swati: PM had said that he was the one to be blamed.
Pilot: Dr Manmohan Singh is such a PM whose integrity, character and personal stake can’t be questioned. No one can challenge his clean image. Dr Singh, along with Congress president Sonia Gandhi, have given to the country a leadership which is transparent and honest. It is responsible, accountable and sensitive towards the people.
Swati: What will happen to the Congress party in 2012 UP elections?
Pilot: We do politics for the people. Congress party works on issues and principles. The Congress in UP is working as a team to oust the Mayawati govt.
Swati: Will Bhatta Parsaul be a Nandigram for Congress?
Pilot: The issue is not just about a village, not about a state nor about an election. Congress party is witness to the injustice to the poor people of Uttar Pardesh. It is our duty to fight for the right of the oppressed people.
Swati: Soon after the election results were declared, UPA government hiked the price of petrol and diesel. It was indeed cynical.
Pilot: No government raises price with a happy mindset. India has very less reserves of oil. We import 80 percent of the oil. The price of oil in our country is directly dependent on the international pricing. Government is trying its best to decontrol the price. The government is providing subsidy on Kerosene and Diesel.