A strong votary of Indo-Pak peace, former union panchayati raj minister Mani Shankar Aiyar has said that the Congress does not take his suggestions on improving relations between the two countries seriously as it “treats him as an obstruction”.
Talking to HT on the sidelines of the Khushwant Singh Lit Fest here on Saturday, Aiyar, a special invitee to the Congress Working Committee, said, “The party has treated me like waste and thrown me into the garbage. Had I been taken seriously, I would have been a minister right now. I am a Jurassic Park Congressman who believes in fundamental secularism.”
When told that being a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha, he could still do a lot to ensure better Indo-Pak ties, the outspoken Congress leader, who was dropped from the union cabinet after he lost the 2009 Lok Sabha election, said, “Indo-Pak relations are never discussed in Parliament. You need a terrorist attack for that to happen.”
Aiyar, however, lauded the efforts of the UPA government in taking the peace process forward by holding ministerial level talks and easing visa restrictions. Singling out Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for special praise, he said, “Never has a Prime Minister taken more interest to improve Indo-Pak ties. Uninterrupted dialogue is a must and things are moving in the right direction.”
When told that it was former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who had brought about a thaw in the relations between the neighbouring countries through the Lahore-Delhi bus diplomacy, Aiyar said, “His predecessor Rajiv Gandhi had achieved much, much more. The Delhi-Lahore bus that carried Vajpayee was not even allowed to enter Pakistan. He had to step down in Attari, from where he was taken to Lahore in a helicopter. He is an actor and not fit to be called a statesman. But I do feel that he is a Congressman who got into the wrong robes.”
Stressing that India should not allow the 26/11 attacks to be a roadblock in the peace process, he said, “We should have allowed the Pakistan judicial commission to cross-examine Ajmal Kasab. This is an established norm without which the trial cannot be deemed complete.”