In a candid chat with Zeenews.com`s Swati Chaturvedion her show Kahiye Janab, senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh talks about the recent WikiLeaks expose on cash-for-votes, the 2G scam, political alliances, growing corruption and Rahul Gandhi as the new face of the Congress party.
Here are the excerpts:
Swati: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said PM Manmohan Sigh is misleading the country… Americans believe that Kerala mafia is running the PMO and our MPs are tainted. What do you have to say about this?
Digvijay: Okay, let us believe for once that whatever revelations WikiLeaks made were authentic. Now, in February 2008, Nachiketa Kapur had sent a proposal to finalise his appointment (as Officer on Special Duty to Women and Child Development Minister Renuka Chaudhary). But considering his past record, the Appointments Committee of Cabinet rejected the proposal and said he should not be appointed to any sensitive position. All this is very clear. After four months, if Kapur gives some information to the American embassy, what is the big deal? The fact is that he was a miscreant in the UPA government. So, when he leaked any such information to a US official, we cannot trust him obviously.
Swati: You have never been pro-US, even in the previous regime. The PM defended himself on the nuclear deal trust vote issue arguing we won the elections. Can this type of defence be justified?
Digvijay: This issue was brought to the notice of the Parliament’s Ethics Committee and it submitted a report on the matter. Now, what next should take place?
Swati: It is a fact that after cases like CVC appointment, Adarsh Housing scam, Kapil Sibal’s zero-loss theory on 2G scam and now WilkiLeaks revelations, PM Manmohan Singh’s image has taken a beating. People don’t ask now why is it so; they rather ask when will the PM step down? What will you say about this?
Digvijay: Highs and lows are a given in politics and an opinion is made about every person. In the CVC case, I agree that we committed a mistake. The PM has also accepted that we were at fault. I feel that this happened because of discrepancy in the working of the Personnel Department of the Ministry. But in the case of 2G scam, whatever could be done has been done and the government has taken the necessary steps even before the Opposition demanded them. So, in this case the PM’s integrity and honesty is intact.
Swati: When A Raja was sent to jail after his resignation was accepted and six investigations were ordered against him, why did Kapil Sibal say that the loss in the 2G scam to the nation has been zero? How will you justify his zero-loss theory?
Digvijay: Kapil Sibal’s comments have been misconstrued. The point is the way in which mobile phone market has seen growth in India has not been witnessed anywhere else in the world. We see that today even a labourer carries a cell phone to his work. This means that our policies have been right. So, A Raja is in jail not because of a wrong policy but discrepancy in allocation of spectrum licenses. The UPA government is clear that whosoever is responsible for corruption will not be spared.
Swati: Since the time of NDA, many ministries are referred to as ATMs (i.e. Any Time Money) and one can amass any amount of money as per his convenience. What is your take on this?
Digvijay: It is very clear that it is because of the Right to Information that all these scams are surfacing. But, it is to be noted that this Right to Information has been provided by the UPA government. So, transparency in the system is necessary and it is because of this transparency that the practice of corruption came into focus, be it the CWG scam, Adarsh Housing scam or any other. Congress party has made every possible effort to take action against corrupt practices.
Swati: Is Congress bothered about the fact that its own alliances are belittling it and its image has taken a beating?
Digvijay: Alliances and coalitions are common these days. So, we accept it. We made an alliance with the DMK and then with the TMC, first at the Centre and then in the states. I would say that alliances happen because of the demands of the common man.
Swati: Did Sonia Gandhi say that Congress doesn’t care whether the government stays or perishes and was more concerned about the image of the Indian National Congress (INC)?
Digvijay: I feel that she is absolutely right because INC is not a party of today; it was formed 125 years back. Many governments have come and gone but Congress has never run after power. It has been a party which believes in struggle.
Swati: In the present scenario, everybody appears to be part of the rat-race to acquire PM’s post. You were seen fighting it out with (Home Minister P) Chidambaram and now he is doing the same with Pranab Mukherjee. It has come out in open. What is this all about?
Digvijay: (laughs) When there is no vacancy, then how can anyone replace the PM. I have no fight with Chidambaram. Both Pranab and Chidambaram are doing their respective jobs and there is no spat or any such issue between them.
Swati: What is your take on the Niira Radia tapes leakage case?
Digvijay: I feel that Radia tape issue has been sensationalized. I don’t see anything big in the Radia tape case and there is absolutely nothing to make an issue about it.
Swati: When you take a look at the present scenario wherein alliances are taking place, a sense of drift and uncertainty has emerged. Are you worried about it?
Digvijay: See, the world is amazed by the fact that the Indian economy has grown better than China even in times of recession. Our agriculture sector is making progress. Pro-poor policies are being formulated and the Central government is contributing a lot of money for states’ development. All our promises have been fulfilled. Corruption is being tamed and ways to improve governance are being implemented. In short, the nation is moving ahead.
Swati: The PM himself called a press conference and acknowledged his fault but added he was not a culprit. What type of message do you think is being sent across to the nation as nobody questioned him?
Digvijay: We all know about Manmohan Singh’s career in academics, his foray into bureaucracy and then politics. So, we see that he is not purely a politician. I feel that he still has a clean image and has taken firm measures in the various scams. I feel it is his fairness that he accepted his mistake in the CVC appointment case.
Swati: You share a special relation with Rahul Gandhi. People even say that you support him. What do you have to say about this?
Digvijay: I don’t as such share a special relation with Rahul. UP is the common ground of work between us. You see, there is a core group in the Congress which takes all the decisions, there is a buffer group and then there is a duffer group that knows nothing. So, I am amongst the duffer group (laughs).
Swati: People say that Rahul Gandhi should now enter into mainstream politics and become the new face of the Congress party. Why is he not ready?
Digvijay: He never said ‘no’. It is he who has to choose his path; so let him do what he wants to. I personally want to see Rahul Gandhi as our prime minister and I support him.
Adapted by Shruti Saxena