Jitin Prasada is one of the youngest ministers in the Manmohan Singh government. As the MoS for Petroleum and Natural Gas, he is part of the youth brigade that is led by Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi.
In a candid interview with Swati Chaturvedi of Zeenews.com on her chat show ‘Kahiye Janab’, Jitin Prasada shared his views on the political situation in Uttar Pradesh and the Congress party’s prospects in the upcoming Assembly Elections.
Here are the excerpts.
Swati: You are a sitting MP from Uttar Pradesh. You are worried about the farmers of UP. What about the farmers in the rest of India? Now that the UP elections are near the Congress is showing its love for farmers.
Jitin: Nothing of that sort. The Congress party is a well-wisher of all farmers. As far as UP is concerned, the party has been raising the farmers issue from time to time, whether it was the issue of sugarcane prices or the land acquisition issue or the more recent issue of atrocities meted out to the farmers of Bhatta-Parsaul. In Bhatta-Parsaul, an atmosphere of fear still prevails. The ways of the BSP regime in UP are almost like that of Hitler.
Swati: Rahul Gandhi claimed that there were 75 dead bodies in Bhatta-Parsaul. But nothing concrete has been found to prove the same. The Mayawati government attacked you by saying that you don’t do your homework and that the Congress just parachutes during elections?
Jitin: You are quoting incorrectly. There is no question of parachuting. We have all been elected by the people. And not just once but several times. I myself come from a rural area. Rahul Gandhi has been going from village to village to know about the problems of the farmers. He has been talking to them at length and listening to their suggestions. None of the other parties, including the BSP, SP and the BJP has bothered to go the villages to talk to the farmers.
Swati: You are talking of farmers’ issue today. But it’s almost been seven and a half years since farmers started committing suicide in Maharashtra. You didn’t do anything there. One of the reasons you kept quiet was because of blackmail by Mamata Banerjee.
Jitin: Land acquisition is a responsibility of the state government. But now that it’s been seen that atrocities are being committed against the farmers, for example in UP, the Centre has decided to bring in an amendment pertaining to the same in the Monsoon Session.
Swati: You are dodging the question. Didn’t Mamata Banerjee blackmail you? This law, which is colonial and anti-democratic, is being misused by every state government. But you haven’t done anything. Today you seem to be shedding crocodile’s tears.
Jitin: No it’s not like that. As far as the Centre is concerned, we are very serious about the issue. The Bill will be brought in as soon as possible. But the state government has to take the responsibility till then. Take the example of Haryana. The farmers there are given adequate compensation. Jobs are given to the family members. Alternative residential or industrial plot is allotted. If the right package is given then the farmers will have no problem in giving their land. The UP government acquired the land from farmers invoking an urgency clause without any hearing. They cheated the farmers for which even the Supreme Court slammed them.
Swati: It seems that the Supreme Court is running the country. Your government is embroiled in scams like CWG, 2G etc. And you seem to be doing nothing.
Jitin: As far as the Centre is concerned, we are acting in a responsible manner. People who have been found to be corrupt have been acted upon and have been made to resign. But if you talk of UP, the CMO there was killed but no concrete action was taken against the culprits. On the other hand, efforts are being taken to protect the guilty. People have resigned but only resignation will not do. The guilty must be punished.
Swati: Rahul Gandhi said that the government in UP is being run by ‘dalals’. Wherever Rahul Gandhi is going in UP, people are talking against the Dalits. Aren’t you widening the divide in the society? Mayawati has commented that all this is anti-Dalit.
Jitin: It is our responsibility to raise the issues pertaining to UP. Talks like anti-Dalit etc. are meant to divert the attention of the people. The people of Uttar Pradesh know that the Congress party is fighting for their cause. The BSP is just playing the diversionary tactics.
Swati: Whether it’s Tamil Nadu or Bihar, the magic of Rahul Gandhi did not work. People generally say that Rahul Gandhi is – never ready.
Jitin: Don’t forget we were in a weak position in UP. We only had eight MPs from the state. But because of Rahul Gandhi’s hard work our tally increased to 22. And don’t forget Kerala, Assam and West Bengal where we won because of the efforts of Rahul Gandhi. In Assam we came back to power in spite of anti-incumbency factor. This means that the Congress party is getting performance-based votes.
Swati: The popular perception is that the Congress party gives tickets to only those young candidates who come from a political family and have a history of dynastic politics. Most of the young MPs in Congress today have a similar background. Ordinary mortals don’t stand a chance.
Jitin: This is a completely wrong perception. Equal opportunity is given to people from both the spectrum – candidates who come from a political background and candidates who come from a common background. There are almost 40 young MPs in Parliament at present. Almost half of them come from an ordinary background. And all this has been possible because of Rahul Gandhi. He believes that equal opportunity should be given to all in the Youth Congress.
Swati: Can you highlight any big achievement that can be credited to the youth brigade?
Jitin: I was given the petroleum department. I tried my best to implement LPG plan in all the villages in the country so that the villagers could be given LPG connection. Then they wouldn’t have to rely on wood and kerosene to cook. And if you take the example of another young minister, Sachin Pilot – who is the state telecommunications minister – he tried to extend the broadband service to the village level. We are trying to do our best. We have been given full freedom to work to the best of our abilities.
Swati: Digvijay Singh has said that Rahul Gandhi should become the PM in the time to come. What do you have to say about that?
Jitin: Surely, in the times to come Rahul Gandhi will lead the nation. When, how and where will be decided by Rahul Gandhi himself, the Congress party and the people of this country.
Adaptation: Manisha Singh