All parties must come together and save India: Kapil Sibal
We feel that the BJP is destroying the foundations of our republic; they have belittled every institution in this country.
On Monday night, the Congress’s Rajya Sabha MP and former Union minister Kapil Sibal hosted several Opposition leaders across parties -- including Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad, and leaders from the Biju Janata Dal, the Trinamool Congress, the Shiv Sena, the Left parties, the Shiromani Akali Dal, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the YSR Congress, and others.
From the Congress, several of the “Group of 23” leaders were present. Sibal spoke to Hindustan Times about the meeting, and what it means.
What was objective of the dinner you hosted for Opposition leaders?It is to get everyone together and to start a conversation. All political parties were of the Opposition, and we wanted to see how we could go forward together; that’s it.
It came very soon after Rahul Gandhi hosted a breakfast meeting of the Opposition. Did you have that in mind, as yours came so soon after it?This is a typical journalist question. We don’t measure our moves by finding out who has what meeting and where, this is not how it is. It so happened that I decided to have a dinner, and I wanted to call my friends and this has nothing to do with anybody else.
A lot of the people who attended, spoke about 2024 elections. What do you think came out of it?If you start a conversation, it’s not a dialogue that can be completed in one go. The conversation will continue.
One of the persons who attended your dinner was Sharad Pawar. He’s also had meetings with Prashant Kishor, which revolved around 2024. Is this in any way related to those conversations?What do the two have to do with each other? That was a one-to-one meeting, and this was a conversation with all the political parties who are not with the BJP -- one of them (BJD) is equidistant to both the BJP and the Congress, and others are in Opposition.
You managed to get BJD and YSR both at your dinner, and both are not associated with any Opposition activity.I’ve had personal relations with Rajasekhara Reddy (chief minister Jagan Reddy’s father). He is a dear friend, I did so many battles for him. I have close relations with everybody. They were very kind to come, and I was touched that they came. I have very close relations with the BJD also. Pinaki Misra (BJD MP) was my chamber junior. This is a conversation because we feel that the BJP is destroying the foundations of our republic; they have belittled every institution in this country; they are using the investigating agencies to target people; the way they are filling up governor and vice-chancellor slots. I think all parties are now beginning to feel that we must come together and save India. That really was the purpose of this conversation.
I believe that Omar Abdullah said that a strong Congress makes for a strong Opposition. Do you think your party is strong at the moment?Obviously we are not as strong as we should be, we should become stronger. We hope that in the next election we are sufficiently strong to prove that what Omar Abdullah said is right. I think he made a very strong point and all of us who are Congressmen are wanting the Congress to be stronger as we go forward and put up a good show in 2024.