A day after he questioned the leadership of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi, former Congress Working Committee member Jagmeet Brar on Saturday said it was a mistake to reappoint Manmohan Singh as prime minister. “Actually, Pranab Mukherjee was the deserving candidate,” Brar said in an interview to Hindustan Times. He stood by what he had said on Friday on the working of the Congress with respect to the drubbing in the recent Lok Sabha polls. “Though the media has slightly misquoted me on the Gandhis, I am still firm on what I have said. Every Congressman wants a review of the defeat and changes are required for revival of the party,” he said. Excerpts from the interview:
You created a furore. Do you still stand by what you said on Sonia and Rahul Gandhi?
Brar: I always stand by the truth. And the truth is that Congressmen want two things – review of the Lok Sabha defeat and revival of the party. Though the media has misquoted me on the Gandhis, I have certainly asked Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi to take two years off from the party by handing over the reins to someone else.
What exactly did you say?
I never advised anyone to take a break. I am nobody to seek removal of Sonia and Rahul from their positions. I said if they both sacrificed their positions and went on an India tour to strengthen the party, it could regain power.
You are backtracking from your earlier statement.
No, I am not. I want that somebody should come forward to claim responsibility for the Lok Sabha poll debacle. It’s a tradition that not only governments and political parties, but even private companies undertake a review after a setback, remove non-performers. Everyone knows who was heading the party.
What really do you want to say?
I had put forward a question in front of the nation and Congress members for the greater good of the Congress, that in the party’s 130 years of history, its worst drubbing in the general elections should be looked upon with great concern. The Antony committee report should be out, the workers should be able to read it and come to know the decision.
What went wrong and why? Who do you blame for the defeat?
Poll managers and sycophants who surrounded the top leadership. Strong regional leaders were ignored. Sycophants forced the high command to take wrong decisions. It was wrong to re-appoint Manmohan Singh as prime minister. It cost the party dear. Pranab Mukherjee was the deserving candidate, but a strong coterie was against him as they feared his political acumen. The party made a mistake by not making Pranab the prime minister. Had he been the PM, things would have been different. And this mismanagement is still going on as many prominent leaders are being ignored and some irrelevant leaders are being promoted and given key posts. Why nine-time MP Kamal Nath has not been named as leader of the Congress in Parliament, people want to know.
Are you attacking your party leadership?
I am not attacking anyone. I am asking for reforms to revive the party. Otherwise the BJP and RSS are out to finish our cadre. There is need to rebuild the party, which would be achieved by bringing in reforms.
You supported rebel leader Birender Singh.
I am supporting him as Congress needs such leaders. He is a prominent Jat leader not only of Haryana but entire north India. He is the grandson of Chaudhary Chotu Ram, whom farmers worship. The Congress must withdraw the notice to him. Even a delegation should be sent to him to resolve his grievances as he is an asset.
Congress leaders are criticising you. A notice has also been served. Will you reply to it?
I have raised a question which every Congressman wants to ask. For this, I can sacrifice anything. The Congress leadership is criticising me and they served a notice on me, but various prominent leaders from throughout the country have been calling me to congratulate me that I have raised the question that is the need of the hour. The notice shows the maturity of key managers, who don’t know that workers have been demanding answers. Shakeel Ahmed, who is in-charge of Punjab, was a Janata Dal leader around six years ago.
The party can take action against you for your utterances.
What I have said is for the betterment of the party.