At a time when the entire nation is reeling under the yoke of multiple scams, BJP has managed to come out of the Yeddyurappa fiasco. In a bid to clean on BJP’s image, former party president Rajnath Singh dwells upon BJP’s past, present and future in a free-wheeling conversation with Zeenews.com’s Swati Chaturvedi on ‘Kahiye Janab.’
Here are the excerpts:
Swati: Welcome Rajnath Singh on Kahiye Janab. For once, you have ousted Karnataka CM BS Yeddyurappa. It seems like the end of a chapter. Don’t you think that the BJP’s image of a party with discipline took a beating?
Rajnath: Look, I don’t agree with you. BJP had earlier maintained that if charges levied by investigative agencies against Yeddyurappa are proved, then he will have to quit. You yourself saw how the BJP reacted after Lokayukta’s report became public. BJP said that Yeddyurappa should give up chief ministership and the latter duly resigned.
Swati: It is being said that the new CM of Karnataka, Sadananda Gowda is ‘Yeddy-made’ chief minister. What’s your take on it?
Rajnath: Once again I do not agree with you. I believe that Yeddyurappa has been one of the senior leaders of BJP for the past forty-fifty years. Given his stature, one cannot deny the fact that whosoever joins the party will come into his contact. But to say that the present CM is someone’s puppet is a wrong allegation.
Swati: The way Yeddyurappa came to Delhi and said that he won’t put in his papers, stating that he would stage his comeback within next sixth months…I still remember when Lal Krishna Advani’s name cropped up in the Jain Hawala chargesheet, he not only resigned from his post but also did not become the PM candidate. Isn’t there a huge difference between the then and now BJP?
Rajnath: One should not expect everyone to become Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani. In the case of Yeddyurappa, when the Lokayukta report came out, the central leadership made its decision that Yeddyurappa should quit from his position. Once the central leadership made its decision public, Yeddyurappa did not say that wants to remain the Chief Minister of Karnataka. He just said that whatever allegations were made, those were baseless.
Swati: You have been a former BJP president. Nitin Gadkari, the current president of BJP, made a vitriolic attack against Gopinath Munde. Don’t you think such acts are uncalled for?
Rajnath: Nitin Gadkari did not target Gopinath Munde; it probably was a case of some differences but that does not mean they are staunch enemies.
Swati: When you were BJP’s president, you never indulged in public spectacle. When you were targeted, you never retaliated. In this case, do you think it is the failure of the leadership?
Rajnath: You see, Nitin Gadkari did nothing of that sort. He talked with Gopinath Munde and amicably sorted out the issues. BJP is such a big political party and at times, there is a difference of political opinion. Leave alone BJP, the biggest political party in India – Congress too had its share of differences which led to divisions.
Swati: You are right, but is Congress your role model?
Rajnath: I am not talking about a role model. Internal differences can crop up in any political party in a democracy. But there is no division in a disciplined and ideologically committed party. BJP is one such politically and ideologically committed party.
Swati: When you were BJP president, it looked as if BJP’s political heavyweights considered each other their rivals. Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and Narendra Modi targeted each other. Why do we have a miserable opposition?
Rajnath: Look, I have always got immense support from Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and Narendra Modi. Will you believe everything which is written in newspapers?
Swati: Okay, let’s talk about Karnataka. In Karnataka, Bellary’s Reddy brothers regarded Sushma Swaraj as their mother. However, Sushma stunned all when she said that she had nothing to do with them and that Arun Jaitley and Rajnath Singh helped the Bellary brothers acquire their current stature. Your comments…
Rajnath: I cannot speak on behalf of Arun Jaitley, but it is true that whatever happened it had my consent. There should be no fear is speaking the truth. The final decisions are taken by the party president and if Sushma Swaraj said that Rajnath Singh knew about it, then it is absolutely right.
Swati: A million dollar question is: what will happen to Bellary brothers?
Rajnath: The new Chief Minister will hold discussions about the new Karnataka cabinet with the BJP president. The new cabinet will be in the best interests of the nation and the state.
Swati: Today, the nation is neck deep in corruption. BJP does nothing except talking ill of the Congress. Why is BJP such a lame duck opposition?
Rajnath: Be it corruption or price rise, BJP has always played a vital role in and outside the Parliament. We have discussed these issues twelve times in Parliament. We also launched a nationwide campaign against corruption.
Swati: People say the real opposition is Anna Hazare, Prashant Bhushan and Subramanian Swamy…
Rajnath: No, no, no. Social activists are playing their role and political parties are playing their role. If Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev launch a campaign, common men relate to that because they do not belong to any political outfit.
Swati: BJP has reacted vocally for the first time on Anna Hazare’s Lokpal Bill?
Rajnath: BJP was always clear about its stand on Lokpal Bill. Even Atalji said that the PM should come under the ambit of Lokpal. There should be a debate in Parliament. In all, Lokpal should not be toothless.
Swati: You were once the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. The way Rahul Gandhi is making in-roads in UP, what will happen to the BJP?
Rajnath: If someone has to bring the Land Acquisition Bill, it is Congress. Had Congress brought the Bill earlier, there would not have been farmer deaths in the state of Maharashtra, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
Swati: You have been the president of BJP. Wouldn’t you agree more that the nation could have benefitted from a healthy opposition had BJP bigwigs not had big egos?
Rajnath: BJP is not an individual or family’s party. One should praise the fact that BJP is the only party which has internal democracy.
Swati: Finally, will LK Advani be the PM candidate in next elections?
Rajnath: In this regard, the central parliamentary board of the party will take a decision.
Adapted by: Aman Kanth