Interview with Advani
Uhe Opposition, Shri L.K. Advani feels that the kind of respect the NDA government earned during its six-year rule both at home and abroad is unmatched by any previous record of a government. And this enhanced the prestige and respect of the RSS, its philosophy and the entire parivar. He feels the UPA government has unleashed a wave of hatred in the country. Its actions are proving counterproductive, giving issues on a platter to the BJP, further strengthening the BJP ideology.
He is however not happy with the unwise attitude of the government which brought Parliament proceedings to a stalemate. In an interview given jointly to Organiser editor R. Balashankar and Panchajanya editor Tarun Vijay, on wide-ranging issues, the first after the General Election 2004, the BJP leader said the Congress is in a mad hurry to win over the Muslim vote bank. Given below is a full text of the interview:
Do you think the UPA has unleashed a hate campaign against the Opposition parties? Unlike the NDA which took everybody along, the UPA seems to be bent upon dividing….
It involves two factors. First, the kind of influence the communists have on the Central Government. This government has conceded so much to the Marxists which had never happened before. Smt. Indira Gandhi too was supported by the Communist Party of India (CPI) in 1969 after the Congress split. It was outside support and in lieu of that the CPI was able to sent its select people to different universities and media organisations. The Left influence in universities and the academic world and the media organisations started then. But they never tried to influence government policies. Now the communists play the biggest role in the policy making of the government. Their pathological hatred against the RSS and the entire Sangh Parivar keeps reflecting itself in the attitudes of the government.
There are people like Arjun Singh in Congress also who find themselves closer to communists. On the other hand, unfortunately, our response to this hate campaign, right from the beginning, was in the shape of disruption of parliamentary proceedings. This is not a happy development for us. But I would also like to add that, in the last three decades, the situation was such, that if the Opposition had to persuade the government on any given issue it could be possible only through parliamentary disruption. Earlier, the extreme form for opposing was to walkout, but now if the proceeding goes on without disruption it is said the Opposition is inactive, it is not playing its role, and Parliament had a tame beginning.
It was even said that the BJP was just sitting and doing nothing. The House should be adjourned due to this is unfortuante.
That is why the subsequent developments including Satyagrah, in Bangalore are more effective. As I have already said in Karnataka, our mass movements have greatly contributed to the growth of the BJP. Starting from the Kashmir movement, going on to the Jaiprakash Narayan movement against corruption, the anti-Emergency campaign for the defence of democracy, and the Ayodhya movement we launched for the establishment of what is genuine secularism, and what is pseudo-secularism? —on these four issues we led four major agitations and now in the Uma Bharati episode, the Tiranga Abhiyan has combined all these four major issues.
Unfortunately, our response to this hate campaign, right from the beginning, was in the shape of disruption of parliamentary proceedings. This is not a happy development for us.
How do you connect the four earlier movements with the Tiranga Abhiyan?
They (Congress) revived the Uma Bharati issue only to counter our attack on the tainted ministers, which is related to probity in public life. Then, because it was connected to Hubli where the objection to the hoisting of the national flag was being raised by the Idgah committee. In a way it also combines the issues of pseudo-secularism and genuine secularism. Along with the national flag we have connected Savarkar issue which is a question of nationalism.
Basically, in a Parliamentary democracy, a government does not take the kind of confrontationist attitude towards the Opposition that this government has taken. This weakens democracy and the functioning of the Parliament. What they are reflecting is plain enmity. On Godhra I told them to legally examine whether it could be sustainable.
How far is this approach of Manmohan Singh justified in a democracy?
See, the tainted Ministers? issue is the weakest point so far as the government in the national context is concerned. So far as Bihar and Jharkhand are concerned where elections are due shortly, this is not the weakest issue. In a way Shibu Soren may make it an issue because of its complexity.
“This imbalance, especially the extraordinary increase in the population of a particular community, could be because of infiltration of Bangladeshis. It is a matter of concern, as it is related to the national security.”
Perhaps the government is the most defensive when it comes to tainted ministers?
In the national context definitely this is the weakest aspect of the government.
What does it indicate? Does it reflect the level of peoples? understanding?
No. Not just the people. It reflects on several aspects. It speaks a lot about the state of some regions of the country. Now in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, the principal determinant of elections today is caste configuration. In Bihar it has been so for a long time. In UP it has happened recently. To a large extent, caste became irrelevant during the Ayodhya movement. Which in fact neutralised the negative effects of caste.
My face to face with caste was in 1947 when I came to Rajasthan and there were schools, dharmashalas, hospitals, colleges and hostels run by caste based organisations. They were doing good work. As such there is nothing fundamentally wrong with caste system. It was one way of serving the society. I used to frequently visit the students? hostels run by Agarwal and Khandelwal associations to meet swayamsevaks.
What are you going to focus on in Maharashtra elect-ions?
The main focus will naturally be the poor governance and poor record of the alliance of Congress-NCP. The Godhra and Savarkar issues will also be there.
They (Congress) appear foolish and politically unwise. See, when the RSS was banned for the first time in 1948, the Jansangh was born. We were removed from Janata Party on the issue of RSS, the BJP was born. If all this did not happen, we would not have come to power. Always they have used our Sangh affiliation to corner us.
Don’t you feel that the NDA failed to identify the hate centres created by Left organisations and their fellow travellers?
Don’t connect it with the NDA rule. Basically it is the Hindu nature that reflects in the entire Hindu parivar. Those who campaigned against the Communist, were people like Ram Swaroop, Sitaram Goel, Girilal Jain and Vaid Guru Dutt who did not agree with RSS.
What is your comment on the hundred days of UPA government?
What is there to say? They are obvious. They (government) are giving us enough ammunition on a platter.
“I accept that there is slippage in politics and even our people are not unaffected by this. Relatively those who have been in politics, for long escape this slippage. It is difficult.”
Are you not thankful to the government?
Why not? Before the beginning of the recent Parliament session, I was invited by Shri Somnath Chatterjee to complain that our decision to boycott standing committees was wrong. I had told him to inject some political wisdom into the government. It is working overtime to strengthen us politically. On the issue of removal of five governors, I told him that, if I were to take this decision, I would have taken it after the Parliament session, not now and I would never say that the governors were removed due to ideological differences. I would have finished the matter saying that it had happened in the past also.
It is said that there are some good people in the UPA like Somnath Chatterjee, Shivraj Patil or Dr Manmohan Singh. What do you think?
In fact, they do not deserve this appreciation.
Do you think the hate campaigns affect? They seem to believe in political segregation?
In a Parliamentary democracy, the government should not divide the people. You see, the hate generated after the Gujarat incidents was much more than the hate generated by these people during the Ayodhya movement. Compared to those, this is nothing. During those days while remaining in the government, when we went abroad, people used to ask only about Gujarat. The Gujarat and Ayodhya incidents have proved that there is a big disconnect between the public opinion and the media opinion. People are capable of moving forward, burying the past.
They have been trying to corner the BJP on Gujarat?
In fact, Smt. Sonia Gandhi after taking over the reins of Congress party realized or may be her advisers suggested or she realized as per her own little knowledge, that the decline of Congress began when Muslim voters deserted the party and that Muslim voters should come back to the party for its revival. And the principal card for claiming the Muslim vote is the dismissal of Gujarat government. All their activities including commission of inquiry by Lalu and even the court have only been helping us. These are efforts to win over the Muslim vote. I believe that it would be another turning point like the Shahbano case. If they dismiss the Narendra Modi government, it will become a major political issue. And it will lead to a big agitation.
Antony was removed in Kerala at the behest of the same lobby?
A.K. Antony has no fight with Sonia Gandhi. She has not removed him. He quit because of disgust. Further, if there is any reason related to the central government, it is that the Muslim League is angry with him.
The Muslim League seems to have a big say in the UPA government?
Congress’s appeasement of the Muslim community started with Nehru’s first statement after independence, that Kerala Muslim League is different from All India Muslim League and that there is nothing like colonialism, minority etc (after independence).
The Kerala Muslim League is not something different from the all India Muslim League. The League was angry with Antony, because, after Marad massacre, he gave the police a free hand to arrest the culprits. They might have taken the help of Muslim League at the Centre now, but they have always been sharing power in Kerala.
In a Parliamentary democracy, a government does not take the kind of confrontationist attitude towards the Opposition that this government has taken. This weakens democracy.
It appears, the Congress has adopted the political philosophy of Lalu Yadav at the national level?
Lalu Yadav has no political philosophy. Crime and caste are his instruments.
There is a feeling in some quarters about BJP that it has no planned line of action or programme and cohesiveness? Do you agree?
We formed the government at the Centre. At one point of time, not many years back, it seemed impossible, yet we did it. Having ruled for six years, the kind of respect this government earned, not only within the country but abroad also is unmatched by any previous government. Has it not got respect and prestige to the RSS, its philosophy and the entire Parivar, and yet we keep complaining about it? It is a tragedy of the worst kind. There is nothing to be apologetic about it.
Wherever a party came to power, there are talks of decline of values. And this becomes everyone’s concern. Long back some people complained to Eknathji that good Swayamsevaks and Pracharaks get spoiled after joining the Janasangh. He told them not to develop such ego. You work in the shakha. The circus horse shows attractive acrobatics only until it is in the ring. If that horse is taken to the battle-field, what will be its condition when two bombs explode. This has to be understood. Today I accept that there is slippage in politics and even our people are not unaffected by this. Relatively those who have been in politics, for long escape this slippage. It is difficult.
These are efforts to win over the Muslim vote. I believe that it would be another turning point like the Shahbano case. If they dismiss the Narendra Modi government, it will become a major political issue. And it will lead to a big agitation.
Is it because of the political system?
Any person getting power and clout gets affected. Nowhere in the world does a person in politics enjoy so much clout as in India. In America for instance a senator does not think that he is superior to a Vice Chancellor, a scientist, or other outstanding achiever or an excellent surgeon, who lives in his vicinity. But in India, not to speak of an MP, a corpora-tor also feels he is very important. Before 1947 those who joined politics commanded more respect due to their sacrifice and dedica-tion. May be it is because of our freedom struggle that created a halo around politicians.
What do you say on the recent census report that has created this big controversy?
It worries us because of two reasons. One, extraordinary increase in number of one community, second, the extensive imbalance in the census. This imbalance, especially the extraordinary increase in the population of a particular community, could be because of infiltration of Bangladeshis. It is a matter of concern, as it is related to the national security. That is why we have asked to see the report district wise so that the situation could be understood properly.
I had expressed deep concern on this issue last year while releasing a research book, published by the Centre for Policy Research in Chennai.
Some newspapers have reported that the NDA government had stalled the report due to elections so that it could not become an issue during elections. Is it true?
This news is bogus. It took the time that is needed to prepare such a comprehensive report. Why should we stop its publication, if we can participate in the release function of a research book on population prepared on religious basis? The problem before the government is how to stablise the population growth. We had discussed the issue of stabilising population growth by 2016 in our cabinet and had also decided to encourage different methods for it. One of the proposals was to debar those who have more than two children, from contesting elections to Lok Sabha and state assemblies. The government took the decision to implement the two-child norm and the advisory committee of Health Ministry had also discussed it extensively. But meanwhile, we were voted out of power and the decision could not be implemented.