Anna Hazare, corruption, internal fighting, leadership crisis and now Bhanwari Devi, Congress seems to be in all sorts of troubles these days. Swati Chaturvedi spoke to MoS Sachin Pilot on his views on the current issues confronting his party on her weekly chat show Kahiye Janab.
Swati: Nice to see you smiling at a time when your government looks bewildered. Being a ground leader yourself, what will you do if tomorrow Anna Hazare turns up in Ajmer and asks for votes?
Sachin: Anna is free to go anywhere in India. Everyone is working to bring the issue that he is fighting for towards a logical end. But somehow, he seems to have lost the path of his objective. We believe he is being misled by BJP and Sangh Parivar.
Swati: The way your government meted out treatment to Anna Hazare by putting him in jail along with A Raja and Suresh Kalmadi, do you still think people are going to support you?
Sachin: By personal choice, Anna Hazare himself refused to come out of the jail after being released, but in the hindsight, everyone can claim to be wiser. I think the situation at that time could have been handled in a better way and we tried our best. We promised in the Parliament to pass the Lokpal Bill when in 43 years nobody succeeded in doing so.
Anna Hazare is a wise man and is respected by all but somewhere down the line he has lost track of the issue he championed and instead by campaigning against Congress, he is getting involved in politics that he vehemently denies.
Swati: Do you think it was being foolish on the part of public in standing behind Anna during his campaign?
Sachin Pilot: The people of this nation are intelligent but what Anna’s team is doing by visiting each household and asking them to not vote for a certain party cannot be separated from politics.
Swati: But what Anna says is not wrong as far as allegations regarding rampant corruption is concerned?
Sachin: If that is the case, then why doesn’t he protest against Mayawati and Yeddyurappa’s government in UP and Karnataka? Anna’s team lack the guts to protest in Lucknow against Mayawati’s government that is involved in many a scams worth crores of rupees.
I think someone has tried to influence his ideology and doing politics under the garb of such a movement isn’t the right way.
Swati: People in our country are raised to look up to their elders but the way your senior party leaders are squabbling among themselves, isn’t that a terrible spectacle?
Sachin: I don’t think that the conspiracy theories doing rounds in the media have any effect on the government. We believe it is the collective responsibility of the government to push forward the agenda of governance.
Swati: Wasn’t there a collective responsibility in the telecom sector when the 2G scam was unfolding? Shouldn’t P Chidambaram and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have resigned in wake of the massive scam?
Sachin: By asking this you are trying to circumvent the procedure of judiciary. Just because media chooses to headline something, the course of action cannot be changed. The allegations leveled are being duly investigated under Supreme Court’s monitoring. Our government isn’t trying to hide anything, whoever is found guilty, no matter which party they belong to should be punished.
Swati: After the turn of events in your party that saw infighting and corruption, how are you going to face the people of your constituency for votes?
Sachin: This might be your perspective at looking things but our leadership has sacrificed so much to bring freedom to this country and has today brought it in the category of top ranking nations. I know there are many aspects and we need to work hard on but we have instilled a sense of pride in each citizen of this country.
Swati: So much has happened in Rajasthan-Bharatpur firings, Bhanwari case and more, how would you define such kind of governance?
Sachin: The firing incident was met with prompt response with a judicial and CBI inquiry initiated simultaneously for the first time ever. As far as the second incident is concerned, the government itself recommended CBI inquiry into the case. This is not a government that will shy from taking action against any such incident.
Swati: Do people in Rajasthan deserve a clean government?
Sachin: Of course they do and we are working towards providing that. We haven’t raised electricity rates for the farmers and have promised to continue with this. We are providing free medicines and houses to the poor people.
Swati: Is there a need for generational change in leadership in Congress as is being speculated? Do you think that it is time for you to become the Chief Minister of Rajasthan?
Sachin: All these are baseless speculations resulting due to the hype created by the media. Mr. Gehlot is an experienced leader and is heading the government for the second time. We have shared responsibilities and believe in proving ourselves to meet the people’s expectations, not to satisfy everything the media speculates about.
Swati: Do you think there is a leadership crisis going on in the Congress as we saw during the Pranab Mukherjee – P Chidambaram incident in the absence of Sonia Gandhi?
Sachin: For the past seven years, Congress is being headed by Sonia Gandhi and the government by Manmohan Singh and a healthy balance is being maintained since then. I do not think there is any leadership crisis.
Swati: When is Rahul Gandhi going to enter mainstream politics?
Sachin: I am not aware of your knowledge regarding Rahul Gandhi’s contribution to the party. He is the General Secretary of Congress. By travelling all over the country, meeting with people facing difficulties, Rahul is empathising and trying to find a solution to their problems. He is serving his duty of a leader.
Swati: Does leadership means travelling all over the country?
Sachin: You may call it travelling, I call it connecting with the masses, sharing their sorrow and understanding their needs. Making political statements sitting in Delhi is an easy job which our BJP leaders have mastered.
Swati: Being a political outfit, you will expect what Rahul is doing should be reflected in the election results. Statistics do suggest that Rahul has failed to produce any magical impact. As a Congress leader, what are your expectations from Rahul Gandhi as a leader?
Sachin: I also have statistics to show where other leaders have travelled and the votes they have got. The kind of knowledge and understanding Rahul has acquired over the years certainly makes him the leader of the nation in the coming future.
Swati: Last question, the senior leaders of today term you and Rahul Gandhi as ‘Amul Baby’ generation. How do you take that?
Sachin: I have become accustomed to such adjectives over the years. But I think there has to be a certain line that should not be crossed to maintain personal dignity. I have seen leaders using language that does not fit their age and stature.
As politicians, our goals and objectives are same but our path and work culture might differ. One may or may not identify themselves with your ideology but settling personal scores is not a healthy sign in politics.
Adapted by Feroz Khan