Expecting positive steps from government on JPC: Nitin Gadkari (Interview)By George Joseph, IANS
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
NEW DELHI - Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Nitin Gadkari says he expects “some positive steps” from the government to break the deadlock over a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe into the 2G spectrum allocation scandal and feels a a way out could be found if “discussions are held in national interest”.
“We are expecting positive steps from the UPA,” Gadkari said in an exclusive interview to IANS.
“It is my feeling. I think they would accept the demand for a JPC,” Gadkari said in the exhaustive interaction that covered a range of topics, including Kashmir, saffron terror and the party’s man in Karnataka, Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa.
He did not elaborate on what basis he was saying that. Asked if any feelers had come from the Congress, the BJP president said: “In the wider interest of the country, they should decide about it.”
As the principal opposition, Gadkari told IANS during the interview at his 11th floor residence in an apartment complex in central New Delhi, the BJP also had “some responsibility” to ensure that parliament did not get stalled indefinitely, leading to a legislative breakdown.
Asked if the BJP was ready for a mid-term poll if the political impasse became worse, Gadkari said: “The decision needs to be taken then only. All I can say is that I expect that a way out will be found if discussions are held in the national interest.”
Gadkari, 54, who last month completed his first year as president of the BJP, said: “It appeared they had accepted the demand in between. After solving their internal problems, they will accept the demand.”
The 2G spectrum scandal has caused a confrontation between the central government and the entire opposition, paralysing the entire winter session of parliament.
While the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the Left parties and other opposition parties have been pressing for a JPC probe, the government has rejected the demand saying that a probe by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), headed by BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi, was already under way as also investigations by other government agencies. At the Congress plenary here in December, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had offered to depose before the PAC.
Asked if differences between the BJP and the government had narrowed down, he remarked: “The UPA and the Congress never made a sincere attempt to initiate a dialogue. They should adhere to norms of democracy.”
“I am not saying that there will be a compromise. The decision will have to be taken by the UPA,” he hastened to add.
According to the BJP president, neither the prime minister nor the UPA chairperson had tried to reach out to the opposition and, except for once over Kashmir, he has had no formal meeting with any of them in the past year.
Gadkari said 2010 would be remembered in the history of India as a “year of corruption and scandals” by the UPA and its state governments. “The way we remember 1947 as the year of independence and 1975 as the year of emergency,” he added by way of illustration.
Detailing the suspected scam in the Commonwealth Games, Gadkari said: “They spent Rs.980 crore on (rebuilding the) Jawaharlal Nehru stadium when it should have been at the most Rs.80 crore.”
“They got the cloth from America, stitched it in Mexico; they got nuts and bolts from Switzerland and rope from Germany. The architect consultant was an Australian. For toilets, they got tiles from Australia and all this came by flight.
“Can a poor nation afford this?” he asked.
How could the BJP raise the issue of corruption when its own chief minister in Karnataka was facing allegations of involvement in a land scam?
There were no corruption charges against Yeddyurappa, Gadkari responded. “He has not done anything more unusual than the previous Congress chief ministers by allotting land in their discretionary quota.”
“Denotifying the land allotted to Yeddyurappa’s sons might be morally improper, but not illegal,” Gadkari insisted.
Asked whether the Kashmir Yatra by the BJP youth wing culminating in the hoisting of the national flag in Srinagar on Jan 26 would lead to unnecessary tension, Gadkari shot back: “Why should the hoisting of the tricolour in our own country create unrest?”
Gadkari denied the charges of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) being associated with what has been dubbed “saffron terror”. He said those arrested had been expelled from the Sangh.
“The Sangh has no direct or indirect link with them.” Gadkari said. “Terror has no colour. No case has been registered against the BJP or RSS activists.”
“The Abhinav Bharat (a Hindu radical outfit whose activists have been accused in several bombing cases) had even talked about killing Mohan Bhagwat (the RSS supremo). I have listened to these tapes. The Maharashtra government has said this in the state assembly. They had even called Indresh (Kumar, questioned by the CBI in connection with the Hyderabad Mecca Masjid blast in in 2007) an ISI agent.
The interview was held ahead of his five-day visit to China from Thursday - the first by a BJP president - at the invitation of the Communist Party of China (CPC). He said his visit was to see China’s “development and progress” and added that all problems between the two countries can be resolved through talks.
(George Joseph can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org)