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?Mumbai blast accused should be hanged?

He?s the epitome of the ?been there, done that? politician. From serving as Lok Sabha Speaker and Maharashtra CM to doing duty as the Shiv Sena?s man in the House of Elders, there?s scarcely an important job that Manohar Joshi has failed to tot up on his resume. In a career spanning four decades Joshi has earned the image of a man who never loses his cool, remaining unruffled in the face of both political and personal adversity.

india Updated: Sep 13, 2006 13:50 IST

He’s the epitome of the ‘been there, done that’ politician. From serving as Lok Sabha Speaker and Maharashtra CM to doing duty as the Shiv Sena’s man in the House of Elders, there’s scarcely an important job that Manohar Joshi has failed to tot up on his resume. In a career spanning four decades Joshi has earned the image of a man who never loses his cool, remaining unruffled in the face of both political and personal adversity.

The equanimity was on display as Joshi was grilled on his party’s dwindling fortunes and the Shiv Sena’s chances in the Mumbai civic body polls during a visit to the City to participate in the Ahilyadevi Utsav. Seated in his room at Sayaji Hotel, the RS member calmly fielded queries, the only trace of emotion coming when talk turned to the perpetrators of Mumbai and Malegaon blasts.

Excerpts:

What do you think of the TADA court’s verdict in the Mumbai blasts case?
It’s only a partial verdict. Although the court has found four people guilty no punishment has been decided yet. Also a few people have been let off for reasons that aren’t yet clear. Until I have more information I cannot comment.
 
What punishment would you like the accused to be awarded?
They caused the death of hundreds of innocent people. Can there be anything except capital punishment for such people? They should be hanged.
 
Sanjay Dutt is among those named in the case. Do you think he’s guilty?
His role will be decided by the court. I don’t think it’s fair to ask me this question when the matter has been placed for adjudication.

Are you satisfied with the way the probe has progressed?
The actual brains behind the conspiracy are still free more than 12 years after the blast because the government lacks the will to tackle terrorism firmly. Look at what the US did after 9/11 or Israel, when terrorists launched missiles into its territory. India should take a lesson from these countries.

What about the blasts in Malegaon?
The blasts were caused by the failure of the intelligence agencies of Maharashtra. (Union Home Minister) Shivraj Patil admitted as much in the Rajya Sabha. Even the Prime Minister said he had warned the Maharashtra Government about the possibility of a terror attack. Even after 50 kg RDX was discovered security wasn’t stepped up. This is a major lapse. If the government can’t protect the lives of innocent citizens it should resign.
 
The Shiv Sena has been hit by a large number of desertions…
The departure of a handful of people makes no difference. The Shiv Sena is like an ocean whose reserves will not be depleted by taking out a few jugfuls of water.

After Thackeray who?
Uddhav (nephew of supremo Bal Thackeray) is handling the party’s reins, and will lead the party in the future. 

How do you rate the Shiv Sena’s chances during the forthcoming Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) polls?
I am confident that we will improve our tally in the civic polls.

Will Balasaheb participate in the election campaign?
Not on a regular basis. But, of course, he will attend a few important meetings.