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 3 of full transcript of the 1 hour 20 minute long interview:
Arnab: I am giving you two examples. One ex Chief Minister and one a current Chief Minister. Virbhadra Singh. My question to you is we have papers which have shown that the Chief Minister takes money from a company which his government does business with. And he takes money. Large amounts of money are put in. And then he says I just took the money as a personal loan because I wanted to do renovations in my Palace. My question is Mr. Rahul Gandhi. And this is really fundamental because you have taken a position on corruption of late. Do you think it appropriate of another Chief Minister of a state to be deciding on the fate of a company, that he is revealed to have close links with? And by not speaking on it, because you've not spoken on it, aren't you missing on yet another opportunity to address the issue of corruption with Virbhadra Singh?
Rahul: As far as any corruption done, there is a legal process. And that legal process should be followed and concluded. As far as my personal view is concerned, anybody who is corrupt should be brought to book.
Arnab: Was the legal process completed when A Raja was asked to leave the cabinet?
Rahul: We took action against the DMK ministers.
Arnab: Was the legal process completed when Mr. Kalmadi was asked to leave as Secretary of the Congress Parliamentary Committee?
Rahul: We took action on the corrupt ministers. We have passed a bill in parliament. The Lokpal Bill. The most powerful thing. We got you RTI and we got six bills sitting in Parliament house. We have to change the way the system works. We are always talking about peripheral things. We are never talking about the core reason this system is corrupt. The core reason the season is corrupt is that there is too much concentration of power in the system and people on the peripheries do not have power. The people on the streets do not have power. And that the reason that happens is that our political system, political parties are shut. We need to open the door of the political parties. We need to move, carry out more legislation like RTI and we need to change the system.
Arnab: Are you open to taking action on Ashok Chavan and Virbhadra Singh? Have you seen the papers yourself? Will you examine them Mr. Gandhi? Will you examine it?
Rahul: Anybody who is corrupt should be punished. I am not a judge. So if there is a legal process and there is a result of the legal process, absolutely they should be punished.
Arnab: There is no case being followed against Mr. Virbhadra Singh.
Rahul: Yes I know that but I am saying that it is not my job. My job is when I see issues of corruption, take action on it. That's what I do.
Arnab: Well Mr. Gandhi now you see. The other question is, should you have spoken up much much earlier? You know you didn't. Everyone wants to know today why you didn't speak up during 2G. Why didn't you speak up during Coalgate? Why didn't you speak up? I think it was June 2010 that TIMES NOW broke the CWG scam and railgate. You could have spoken up. And you can't take the defence that you were not very actively there. You have for some time been effectively in-charge of the 2014 re-election campaign.
Rahul: My position was that I report to the Prime Minister. Whatever I felt I had conversations with the Prime Minister. Whatever I felt about the issues I made it abundantly clear to the Prime Minister. I was involved in the legislation, RTI legislation. And now I have helped pass the Lokpal Bill. I bring you back. The real issue here is participation of people in politics. It is bringing youngsters into the political system, it's opening out the political system. That's where nobody wants to talk. Everybody is perfectly happy with 500 people running the entire system in India. Nobody, none of you want to raise that issue. The fundamental issue. How do we chose candidates?
Arnab: Do you feel that you have undermined by remaining silent? I want to ask you this when the Pawan Bansal and Ashwini Kumar episode happened for six days the Govt batted back, everyone said this is unacceptable. Six days the Parliament was washed out, do you feel in retrospect that you could have spoke out earlier, Mr. Gandhi please be frank with me on this.
Rahul: What I feel is that this country needs to look at the fundamental issues at hand, the fundamental political issue at hand is that our Political system is controlled by too few people and we absolutely have to change the way our political system is structured, we have to change our Political parties, we have to make them more transparent, we have to change the processes that we use to elect candidates, we have to empower women in the political parties, that is where the meat of the issue but I don't hear that discussion, I don't hear the discussion about how are we actually choosing that candidate, that is never the discussion.
Arnab: So I am asking you how are you choosing Ashok Chavan? That is a discussion I am willing to have, how are you choosing Virbhadra Singh , they are elected representatives they hold clout, does their clout make them oblivious to public accountability and scrutiny?
Rahul: Their clout doesn't make them oblivious, but the point here is the system is the system behind them that has no processes no systems and we just assume that thing is going to work. What we have to do is we have to open that up. We have to
bring youngsters into that and that no-one is discussing.
Arnab: Mr. Gandhi a lot of people felt when you said that I will not make compromises, you have got a round of applause when you spoke up on the ordinance. There are many people have faulted you for your technique, they say you could have chosen a more discreet way. My question is will you make compromises, are you willing to make compromises for political purposes, alliances or convenience?
Rahul: My long term view is that we need to take the Indian political system to a different place. We need to bring in youngsters and we need to move away from this concentration of power. Unfortunately the political system today is at a particular place and I can't simply ignore the fact that the political system is at that place, so certainly there are points at which you might have to take a decision that you are not a 100% happy with but the long term idea for me is to transform the system, to bring in youngsters and make sure they are empowered.
Arnab: Lalu Prasad has been convicted on the 30th of September 2013 for the alleged fraudulent withdrawal of crores of rupees from the Chaibasa treasury in the 90s, the case you are completely aware of. My question is will you make that compromise despite that case to enter into a political arrangement, because when you spoke on the ordinance there was also the backdrop of that case coming up, will you make that compromise?
Rahul: These decisions of the Congress party are made by senior leaders.
Arnab: You are the boss.
Rahul: Our alliance in Bihar is with a political party with an idea not an individual, we are making alliance, and it is not certain that we are going to make an alliance, we are in process of talking to people and our alliance is with an idea, with a party, not an individual
Arnab: If I were to take that further and challenge you that there is talk of a possible alliance with the DMK and Lalu Prasad, and if you are accused by your political opponents that he talks about not making compromises but he agrees to enter into convenient alliances with parties for short term gains, how will you justify yourself?
Rahul: We are fighting an election, we are going to win that election, there are our alliance partners, there is our alliance partner in Maharashtra, and there is our alliance partner in Bihar and Jharkhand. We are making an alliance with their view not with an individual.
Arnab: Leader of the party is Lalu Prasad, hence you are making an alliance with an individual?
Rahul: No, we are making an alliance with a political party.
Arnab: But these are not settled alliances yet but you are open to them?
Arnab: Mr. Gandhi the other question is about price rise and you got a round of applause when you spoke about the LPG cylinders, you told the Prime Minister quite charmingly - that Mr. PM please make things less difficult for households. But I am questioning your silence all these years, because in this period from 2004-2013 the wholesale price index of food goes up by 157%, vegetables by 350% and Onions by 521%, you don't speak on that. When Raj Babbar says you can get food at 12 rupees a meal, you don't speak then , when Rashid Masood says you can get food at 5 rupees a meal you don't speak then, the accusation there is and the general feeling Mr. Rahul Gandhi is that you have really woken up to the issue after the 4-0 drubbing in the last state election, do you concede that?
Rahul: No, I think women are the backbone of this country and women need to be empowered and I felt that price rise is an issue cylinders were a big issue, I went to Kerala and I go a sense that women were concerned about that and I made that view clear to everybody in the AICC session.
Arnab: But you didn't intervene earlier?
Rahul: I have been working with the PM on the Price rise issue, I have been in discussions with him and we have taken steps in our states, where we have called the Chief Ministers and we have taken steps where we have actually reduced the prices of vegetables in our states, so it is not that I just woke up, it is that I have been working on it systematically. But what I really feel that we need to start looking at empowering women, bringing them in and listening to them.
Arnab: Did UPA 2 let you down on prices?
Rahul: Prices are a reality...
Arnab: Did the Govt let you down, when I look back at your comments I find a comment each time, in 2009, 2010, 2011 you had lot of faith in the PM...
Rahul: I still have faith in the PM he is our leader...
Arnab: Does the Govt's track record on prices not make your faith in the PM shake a little?
Rahul: We are working on prices, as I said we have spoken to our Chief Ministers and we have reduced prices in states where we are in power.
Arnab: So you have not woken up to it only because of political purposes?