Congress vice president and poll campaign chief Rahul Gandhi opens up in an interview with Times Now Editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami. For the first time after his political debut in 2004, Rahul Gandhi takes direct questions on wide range of subjects on Frankly Speaking with Arnab.
Here is the part 2 of full transcript of the 1 hour 20 minute long interview:
Arnab: Can I draw you back to my question. I will go into those areas and I respect what you are telling me about your personal journey, It's not Rahul, as if I lack empathy for what you are saying, in fact I am pretty sure many people do but my question to you is Narendra Modi calls you a Shehzada, now let's be very specific Rahul. Narendra Modi calls you a Shehzada, a) what is your view of Narendra Modi b) are you afraid of losing to Narendra Modi, Rahul please answer my question as specifically as you can?
Rahul: What Rahul Gandhi wants to do, is Rahul Gandhi and millions of youngsters in this country want to change the way the system in this country works. What Rahul Gandhi wants to do is empower the women in this country, wants to unleash the power of these women, I mean we talk about being a superpower…
Arnab: You are avoiding the question
Rahul: No I am not avoiding the question
Arnab: My question to you is, what is the Congress Vice President's view of the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate
Rahul: I think we will defeat the BJP in the next elections
Arnab: And what is your view of BJP's prime ministerial candidate?
Rahul: The BJP has prime ministerial candidate, the BJP believes in concentration of power in the hands of one person, I fundamentally disagree with that, I believe in democracy, I believe in opening up the system. I believe in the RTI, I believe in giving power to our people. We have fundamentally different philosophies
Arnab: What is your view, would like to expound your views, your PM accuses Narendra Modi in his press conference of presiding over "the mass massacre of innocent citizens on the streets of Ahmedabad." Mr. Rahul Gandhi my question to you is this, do you agree with your PM when he says that?
Rahul: Well, I mean what the Prime Minister is saying is a fact, Gujarat happened, people died but the real issue as far I am concerned...
Arnab: How do you accuse Mr. Narendra Modi of it?
Rahul: Gujarat happened, people died. The real issue at hand here is...
Arnab: How is Mr. Modi responsible?
Rahul: He was CM when Gujarat happened
Arnab: The fact remains that Narendra Modi has been given a clean chit, in the Gulbarg massacre case by the SIT and the court Mr. Gandhi. My question to you is "can the Congress party sustain it's attack on Mr. Narendra Modi on this issue when he has been given the clean chit by the courts in the Gujarat riots
Rahul: The congress party and the BJP have two completely different philosophies, our attack on the BJP is based on the idea that this country needs to move forward democratically, it needs push democracy deeper into the country, it needs to push democracy into the villagers, it needs to give women democratic powers, it needs to give youngsters democratic powers. It is about opening the doors of the congress party, about empowering the youth
Arnab: How is Narendra Modi responsible for the riots when the courts have given him a clean chit, politically your party's tact to criticise Narendra Modi and draw him into the Gujarat riots?
Rahul: Our political party is fighting an ideological battle Against the BJP and let me draw out the two pillars- our party believes that women should be empowered, democracy should go to every house, that RTI, and the MNREGA paradigm should be further expanded. The BJP believes power should be extremely concentrated in this country, few people should run this country and the large mass of this country should have no voice.
Arnab: Specifically speaking how is Narendra Modi, your party criticised him for the 2002 Gujarat riots, and how can you do that when he has been given a clean chit in the Gulbarg massacre by the SIT of the court. It was challenged in the court, the court upheld the SIT finding and therefore legally speaking Mr. Gandhi you cannot draw Narendra Modi into the Gujarat riots, implicate him personally. Do you believe that strategy of your party is fundamentally wrong?
Rahul: The strategy of the party is very simple. Everything we have done over that last 5-10years, in fact if you look all the way back to the freedom movement, every single thing we have ever done is empower people. We empowered people in the freedom movement, we empowered farmers in the Green revolution, and we empowered the citizens of India when we did the telecom revolution. We have empowered millions and millions of people through frankly the most powerful legislation that has ever taken place in this country called the RTI- Right to information. Things that used to be closed, things that were in closed doors which nobody knew about
Arnab: I will come to that but you haven't answered my question. Gujarat riots is the question, your party has consistently wanted to put Mr. Narendra Modi on the back foot on the Gujarat riots, he says "the court has given me clean chit" and I am asking you today, is your party's argument about putting him on the back foot on Gujarat is flawed given the ways the courts have looked at it
Rahul: The PM has stated his position on the Gujarat riots. The Gujarat riots took place, people died, Mr. Narendra Modi was in charge of Gujarat at that point. I am bringing you to a real ideological battle that is taking place here. The real ideological battle that is taking place here and the one we are going to win and that has always been one in this country is the battle of empowering people in this country. Of course there is your point of the Gujarat riots and it is very important that people who have taken part in this kind of thing are brought to book. But the real issue at hand here is empowering the women of this country, giving them true power. We talk about India being a superpower we can only be half a superpower if our women are not empowered. What I want to do is going forward is basically focus on three things. Focus on empowering our people, truly empowering our people, giving them democratic rights within the political party. I want youngsters who come in and really, really push democracy in the party. I want to empower them and I want to make India, together with everybody, taking everybody together I want to put India on the manufacturing map, I want to make this the centre of manufacturing in the world. I want to make this place at least as much as a manufacturing power as China.
Arnab: You say that Narendra Modi was CM during the Gujarat riots and the BJP was in power. The BJP was as much in power in Gujarat during the riots as much as Akhilesh is in power in UP or for that matter the Congress party was in power when the 1984 Anti Sikh riots happened, now let me quote, you spoke in one of your speeches of the anger of your Grandmothers death, I think it was campaign trail in Rajasthan. You spoke about knowing the people who killed her and you spoke about anger and managing your own anger and quelling your own anger and drawing it into strength elsewhere. Now that speech of yours became a subject of controversy with Narendra Modi posing a series a questions to you on 1984 and he said the following and I want to quote him and your categorical and specific response "he's crying for the assassination of his Grandmother but has he shed tears of those killed in the 1984 riots, I want to ask the Shehzada and you remember Mr. Gandhi he's constantly deriding you by calling you a Shehzada, whether your party kills Sikhs in anger when your Grandmother died, so following from this I have 2 questions, my first question; do you acknowledge the role of congressmen in the 1984 riots, B) will you apologise for the riots as your party demands an apology from Modi for the Gujarat riots?
Rahul: Two things, in 1977 when my Grandmother lost the election we went and lived ....and the people who came with my Grandmother, those people who stood by my Grandmother were Sikhs. Pretty much everyone had deserted my Grandmother but the Sikhs were standing with my Grandmother. I think the Sikhs are probably one of the industrious people in this country. I admire them; we have a PM who is a Sikh. I don't have the same world view as my opposition. What those two people did to my Grandmother, was two individuals, I don't turn around and take my anger which existed then, frankly, it doesn't exist now and brush it onto an entire community, that's just not me.
Arnab: I am sure you don't, my question is do you acknowledge the role of Congress men in the 1984 riots because
Rahul: I am coming to your question
Arnab: I am sure you don't, my question is do you acknowledge the role of Congress men in the 1984 riots because there must be justice. Mr. Gandhi there has to be finality, the Gujarat riot cases have moved forward and many people have got justice, if I just compare that to the 1984 riots, you can look at the status and case history of what happened to Mr. Sajjan Kumar, Jagdish Tytler, HKL Bhagat, Dharam Das Shastri and the one story that you hear there is these cases are endless, they go on for the longest period of time. I am asking you again, Mr. Gandhi before you seek an apology from Modi would you apologise for the 1984 riots, would that be something that you consider?
Rahul: I do not take my anger which existed on 2 individuals who did something evil and wrong and overlay it on millions of people. I think that's criminal. Did the Sikh riots take place in Delhi? Absolutely. Were they completely wrong? Absolutely.
Arnab: Were Congressmen involved?
Rahul: Did innocent people die? Absolutely
Arnab: Were Congressmen involved?
Rahul: Some Congress men were probably involved
Arnab: Has justice been delivered to them?
Rahul: There is a legal process through which they have gone through
Arnab: You admit some Congressmen were probably involved
Rahul: Some congressmen have been punished for it
Arnab: In that case, why don't you apologise for the 1984 riots? The congressmen who you are talking about are still fighting their cases and in 2009 if I am not mistaken Jagdish Tytler, Mr. Rahul Gandhi. Was going to get nominated as a congress candidate, it was only following the media furore that his nomination was taken back. Mr. Gandhi I am asking you this question in all seriousness do you feel that Congressmen were involved and 2)Do you believe if you apologise for the riots there will be finality
Rahul: The fact of the matter is that innocent people died in 1984 and innocent people dying is a horrible thing and should not happen. The difference between Gujarat and 1984 was that the Government of Gujarat was involved in the riots
Arnab: How do you say that
Rahul: I mean....
Arnab: The CM of Gujarat has been given a clean chit by the courts
Rahul: The difference between the 84 riots and the riots in Gujarat was that in 1984 the Government was trying to stop the riots. I remember, I was a child then, I remember the Government was doing everything it could to stop the riots. In Gujarat the opposite was the case. The Government in Gujarat was actually abetting and pushing the riots further. So there is a huge difference between the two things, saying that innocent people dying is absolutely wrong
Arnab: Explain that. Government of Gujarat was aiding and abetting the riots is what you just said, explain that?
Rahul: I mean it's not me...it's the large number of people who were there, large number of people who saw actively the Government of Gujarat being involved in the riots.
Arnab: You will keep that line despite the CM getting a clean chit form the courts?
Rahul: I mean, people saw it. I am not the person who saw it, your colleague saw it. Your colleagues told me
Arnab: They saw the riots?
Rahul: The saw the administration actively attacking minorities
Arnab: What are you saying? Can you explain?
Rahul: I am saying that there was difference between the 1984 riots and the riots in Gujarat. The difference was that the Government in 1984 was trying to stop the riots, trying to stop the killing whereas the Government in Gujarat was allowing the riots to happen.
Arnab: If the government in Delhi and in the center was trying to stop the riots in 1984, then tell me, how is it possible that Sajjan Kumar was named in Fir's on the grounds of inciting violence in outer Delhi leading to the murder of Sikhs. The status of the case is known. How is Jagdish Tytler, accused of inciting the mob in Pulbangash leading to murder and rioting in the area. How is the late HKL Bhagat accused of inciting violence. And you know that a plea in the Delhi Court was closed after his death. How did these Congress leaders do what they did allegedly, if the government was so strongly and proactively acting against the riots?
Rahul: There is a process. See there is a legal process. And that process is on. Okay.
Arnab: There was an SIT finding. It was challenged by Zakia Jafri. It went up there and the courts upheld what the SIT found. Are you questioning the wisdom of the courts Mr. Gandhi?
Rahul: Look. All I'm saying, all I'm saying is that there is a difference between the 1984 riots and the Gujarat riots. The simple difference is that in 1984 the government was not involved in the massacre of people. In Gujarat it was. The question is why do these kind of things take place. Why is it that the Gujarat riots took place? The Gujarat riots took place frankly because of the way our system is structured, because of the fact that people do not have a voice in the system. And what I want to do. And I have said it and I will say it again. What I want to do is question the fundamentals over here. What I want to do is ask a couple of questions. I want to ask why candidates that are chosen in every single party are chosen by a tiny number of people. I want to ask why women have to be scared to go out on the street. I want to ask these questions. These are fundamental questions.
Arnab: I appreciate that you believe in transparency. I'll move away from Gujarat but I must say that I have not found this comparison between 1984 riots and 2002 riots that they are two different cases. I can't take this at face value Mr. Gandhi. The reason for this is because in both cases the government, the accusation is that the government could have done a little bit more. But at the same time I want you to, once more if you can substantiate. You stand by what you said, that the Chief Minister and the government of Gujarat played a role in abetting the riots? You stand by what you said?
Rahul: All I'm saying is there is a difference between the 1984 riots and the Gujarat riots. The difference is that the government of the day in 1984 was not aiding and abetting the riots. That is all I'm saying.
Arnab: So you don't need to apologise for the '84 riots. If someone seeks an apology from you, will you give it? Your Prime Minister has apologised for the riots. Expressed deep regret. Will you do the same?
Rahul: First of all I wasn't involved in the riots at all. It wasn't that I was part of it.
Arnab: On behalf of you party.
Rahul: I think that riots, as all riots, were a horrible event. Frankly I was not in operation in the Congress party.
Arnab: Mr. Gandhi let's move on to the RTI. Which is the single biggest legislation to combat corruption. Which you said in your speech at the AICC that was something that you were speaking about. Now, I find it ironical that a party which has 90.38% of its funds from cash between 2008 and 2012. 89.11% of its money comes from unaccounted sources, unnamed sourced. Why would you not say charity begins at home? And let us put the Congress party and its funds under the scanner of the RTI. Why would you not bring the same freshness of perspective in this case as you did when you dealt with the issue of the ordinance.
Rahul: I think that political parties should be under RTI if political parties feel, and it's a law that has to be passed in parliament. If political parties unanimously feel that that should be the case then it should be the case.
Arnab: What was your view? What will be your view on it?
Rahul: My position is that the more openness the better.
Arnab: So your own personal view is that your political parties should be under RTI?
Rahul: See the issue is this. Laws in this country are passed by parliament. What one needs to do is pass a law in parliament that brings RTI in the political party. I have a personal view on it but you have to take that view through parliament. I have a view also for example on the six bills that are sitting in parliament.
Arnab: I'll come to that. But my question is on the RTI. I want your view on it. You are a very influential politician. You have demonstrated some of your actions in the past that what you say and do can influence the decisions in government and in parliament. So my question to you is very significant. You said, in the AICC you said we enacted this revolutionary law to hand you power knowing fully well that it would place our own government under severe scrutiny. I agree with you. What about placing your own party under scrutiny? Are you open to that?
Rahul: I am the first person who has been saying over the last five years, talking about transparency in the party. I have made the Youth Congress and the NSUI fully elected bodies. I have spoken about the six bills in parliament. I have spoken about the Lokpal Bill and I have pushed the Lokpal Bill. I was involved in the RTI. We worked together to bring the RTI. So as far as transparency in the political party is concerned I am absolutely for transparency. There are questions about the RTI that need to be discussed and thought through. The real question is that our system is based on different pillars. And the question is which ones of these pillars should have RTI. Because, if you only put RTI into one pillar and you don't have RTI in for example the judiciary and the press and in other areas then you might create an imbalance. Am I for opening up? Am I for bringing RTI into as many places possible? Absolutely. Am I for creating an imbalance and weakening the legislative structures of this country. No I am not.
Arnab: How does putting political parties under the purview of the Right to Information Act, how does that actually weaken the legislative process? It brings in transparency.
Rahul: It brings in transparency but it changes the balance of power.
Rahul: Because the judiciary does not come under RTI. The press does not
have RTI. Other components of the system do not have RTI.
Arnab: The press does not rule the country.
Rahul: No it doesn't. Okay. The Judiciary does not have RTI. So you have to have a complete thinking. So if you want to bring RTI. If you want to deepen RTI, you have to think about it in a composite manner. You cannot just say, 'Okay let's put RTI here, put RTI here'. You have to have a strategy to put RTI and open the system together. And as far as opening the system is concerned.
Arnab: But you are willing to let a discussion happen on brining political parties under RTI?
Rahul: Of course I am.
Arnab: You're not opposed to that.
Rahul: No I am not opposed to any discussion, ever.
Arnab: On this specific subject.
Rahul: On all subjects. One has to take care that one is not creating imbalances in the system. And that's something that one has to discuss.
Arnab: Mr. Gandhi do I sense that you are almost committing yourself and then pulled back.
Rahul: No, no, no. I have said that I am happy to have a discussion.
Arnab: You're happy to have a discussion?
Rahul: Of course.
Arnab: On bringing political parties under RTI?
Arnab: Mr. Gandhi.
Rahul: But let me just go back and let me give you... Let me go further than that. The central question in all this is who chooses political candidates and how? The central issue in all this is what is the power of the Member of Parliament, the power of the MLA and the power of the Pradhan in political system? If you look at the legislative power of a Member of Parliament, you look at the legislative power of an MLA today and you look at the role he plays in Parliament and the role he plays in the assembly. He doesn't actually make laws. He presses buttons. Go to a state like Uttar Pradesh and you look at actually the law making, the law making done by the MLAs, it's extremely limited. You can't talk about bringing people into politics. You can't talk about opening up the system until you start to empower these people.
Arnab: Was it part of the empowerment of people that Ashok Chavan was protected in the Adarsh Scam despite the fact that the judicial commission actually said that he was involved in a quid pro quo? A Chief Minister, an ex Chief Minister forced to go because of one of the biggest scams. Which was by the way Mr. Rahul Gandhi played out greatly on TIMES NOW. Is he being protected? The CBI is not getting permission to prosecute him. You can say all this Mr. Rahul Gandhi about the legislative framework to fight corruption. But my question to you is more fundamental. You have not shown the political will to use your tremendous influence to ensure that Ashok Chavan faces justice. You said a little bit and you moved back. Why are you still protecting Ashok Chavan.
Rahul: I'm sorry the Congress party wherever we have had issues of corruption we have taken action. On every front. We are the ones who brought the RTI which is the single biggest weapon against corruption. And we got it ourselves. We are the ones who delivered RTI to this country.
Arnab: Your Maharashtra cabinet rejected the judicial commission report on Adarsh. And after that the governor refused to give prosecution to go against Ashok Chavan. None of this was part of the empowerment of the people. You said you're not for it. After that in some kind of tardy, if I may say so, partial acceptance of the report. The bureaucrats are blamed and each and every politician including Mr. Ashok Chavan gets away. I want to ask you Mr. Rahul Gandhi. You said you will not compromise. You will not make small compromises. How big a compromise was it for you to continue to protect Mr. Ashok Chavan. Why are you protecting Ashok Chavan?
Rahul: I made my position on Ashok Chavan clear
Rahul: Ashok Chavan absolutely clear. I made it front of a press conference. I made it absolutely clear exactly what I thought about that issue. Let me again go back to the issue at hand. The issue at hand is bringing in youngsters into the political system. Opening the doors...
Arnab: The Chief Minister did a sort of partial acceptance which basically means bureaucrats are faulted in the report. They are penalised. Indicted politicians get away. Mr. Rahul Gandhi I am asking you this because you've come up on the issue. Do you have the political conviction to push this through. What will you say to the people watching this interview today, who will say, 'You know what, you said it' but you're not taking responsibility. The man still gets away scot-free. Why should a bureaucrat be punished and a Congress politician be let off?
Rahul: What I will say is that in the Congress party anybody who does any act of corruption will be taken up and punished.
Arnab: What about Ashok Chavan?
Rahul: Every single person.
Arnab: But he has got away.
Rahul: What I will say is that there are six bills in parliament that are sitting there bring them in. Pass them.
Arnab: But your words are not matching your actions Mr. Rahul Gandhi. You're saying it but all the politicians they got away scot-free, including not just Ashok Chavan. There are several NCP ministers. All of whom tried to interfere and meddle in the process. They used the name of Kargil Mr. Rahul Gandhi to give themselves private profit. If you say this and you have the conviction why are you not following it through?
Rahul: I have made it absolutely crystal clear right in front of the press what I think about this issue.
Arnab: But nothing happened.
Rahul: What do you mean nothing happened?
Arnab: Ashok Chavan faces no action.
Rahul: Absolutely not. What all I'm saying is that anybody, regardless of who he is, if there is any corruption by any Congress person we will take action.
Arnab: Would you like to see Ashok Chavan facing action?
Rahul: We have punished our own minister. We have put the most powerful bills in the Parliament house. Please get those bills passed. That's what I tell the opposition in this country.