The Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir government managed to foil BJP’s plan to hoist the national flag at Lal Chowk, but the ‘Ekta Yatra’ did manage to keep the nation on tenterhooks.
In an exclusive interview with Zeenews.com’s Swati Chaturvedi on her programme Kahiya Janab, BJP senior leader Arun Jaitley shared his views on various issues from 2G spectrum scam to Kashmir.
Swati: What’s your say on ‘Tiranga Yatra’ and getting arrested mid-way?
Jaitley: Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah asked why the BJP doesn’t hoist the flag in Chhattisgarh rather than in Srinagar. I would like to inform him that the yatra was 3500 km long and he should have answered his own question. Chief ministers of no other states objected to it. It is sad that a chief minister is saying if we come to J&K and hoist the national flag, the separatists will get provoked. Even our Home Minister P Chidambaram agreed with Omar. Trains and planes were hijacked. Sushma Swaraj ji and I were illegally confined for six hours. They even abducted us and drove us out of the state.
Why was there a need to arrest anybody for carrying a flag? I think Omar is worried about his declining popularity. The CM gave a message to separatists that he did not allow BJP to hoist the flag. This amounts to psychological surrender to separatists.
Swati: What’s your view on you and Sushma Swaraj getting arrested?
Jaitley: This is for the first time that during Republic Day celebrations the governing party and the opposition were not present. They invited me for the celebrations in Jammu and Srinagar. I think it is hypocrisy -- to be on one hand be stopped at one point and on the other hand to be invited for the celebrations.
When Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Arundhati Roy and Naga rebels spoke against the unity of India in Delhi the government said they cannot take action because it is a matter of free speech. But then if you carry a national flag and hoist it, it becomes a crime.
Swati: Your own alliance partner Nitish Kumar objected to it. What do you have to say regarding this?
Jaitley: Nehruvian policy has been continued in Kashmir. It has many supporters but none of them is honest enough to come forward and admit that this particular policy of giving special status under Article 370, not letting West Pakistani refugees getting settled there, and helping the issue to come on the international arena is wrong. This has been counterproductive. Article 244 has not taken the state on the path of complete integration but moved towards separatism.
Our alliance partners are with us on many subjects, but differ on Kashmir policy. Dr Rammanohar Lohia supported Sheikh Abdullah but had similar views as our party on other issues. So if our friend has a different view he has the right to say it.
Swati: The yatra was organised by BJP’s youth wing. How did you get associated with it?
Jaitley: We did not go there to participate in the yatra. I was supposed to address a rally in Lucknow and Jammu. Sushmaji was not able to attend the Lucknow, so she tried to be a part of the latter. As we reached there in a private plane, officials came inside the plane and asked us to go back as Section 144 was in placed and no security could be provided to us. But we had never asked for security. They made us wait for hours in a lounge and then abducted us and drove us away to Madhopur in Punjab.
How could they hijack a plane or extern two opposition leaders from the state. When we came back with the flag they arrested us. I think all these illegalities were carried out because Omar Abdullah was obsessed with the separatist constituency and he forgot the national constituency.
Swati: Home Minister P Chidambarm said you have made your point and asked you to come back.
Jaitley: When I asked Chidambaram under what power we were externed from the state, he laughed it away and Omar Abdullah said peace prevailed.
I think all these are a result of wrong Kashmir policy. Don’t we need to strengthen the political and constituency relation?
Swati: Will BJP bring this issue in Parliament and how will the party strengthen the Kashmir policy?
Jaitley: We don’t have support of all political parties, but we have full support of the public. It’s almost a majestic isolation that we have on the issue of Kashmir. Shyama Prasad Mookherjee’s vision should be adopted, that is – be pro people in Kashmir, pacify violence and tension, provide jobs and work for development. But don’t give concession to separatists.
Swati: Will your party let Parliament run smoothly in the Budget session?
Jaitley: It’s an issue which the government should address. But there comes a time in history when Parliament stalling becomes a necessity. Parliament obstructionism becomes an instrument to achieve justice. If Parliament had worked, then A Raja would have never resigned.
Swati: How could the government question CAG on the 2G spectrum scam when it itself made A Raja resign and also ordered a probe?
Jaitley: Kapil Sibal has appointed a retired judge to probe the scam. I don’t trust enquiries headed by retired judges. I have seen in the recent times that just a few days before retirement one gives a judgment on crucial hearing and gets a new job soon after retirement.
They are attacking to showcase government’s stand on the 2G scam. It was a very weak defence from Sibal.
The important question is about the various investigating agencies’ health. How was the telecom ministry formed? Businessmen and middlemen decided the whole procedure. How could such people decide, which minister should get which portfolio and what policy should he follow after coming to power?
I think such issues relate to the health of democracy directly. This is a parliamentary issue and that’s why JPC is needed. We will stick to our demand of our JPC.
Swati: The government has been there for more than seven years. Do you think government has destroyed institutions? So what is BJP’s future plan regarding this?
Jaitley: Today India has a very honest Chief Justice, but I cannot say the same for the entire judicial institution.
Swati: What’s your say on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh being a good economist?
Jaitley: There is a widespread belief that our Prime Minister is an economist and not a good politician. But I think otherwise.
The PM has always maintained his honest image, but looked the other way when corruption surfaces. He is letting all institutions get destroyed. He doesn’t have control over his cabinet ministers.
In the last 3-4 years inflation has been in double figures. Prime Minister has not introduced second generation reforms. Corruption has increased manifold and cabinet minister Jairam Ramesh is trying to reduce India’s GDP.
In such circumstances I doubt Dr Singh’s economist credentials. Amid all these chaos he has survived as the prime minister for seven years. This shows he is a good politician.
Swati: How would you react to land scams emerging in BS Yeddyurappa’s government and he himself being accused in it?
Jaitley: We are worried and the party is looking in-depth to the particular issue. But I also want to make it clear that no investigating body such as CAG or the Lokayukta has filed a report on it.
Swati: Your message for Sonia Gandhi and Pranab Mukherjee…
Jaitley: In politics too much arrogance will destroy you. I feel this government should not become arrogant to this level, that it starts taking people for granted. This is because when the common man strikes, he strikes very hard. There is a groundswell of sentiments against this government.
Adaptation by Biplob Ghosal