'I used the illegitimate children jibe because...': Salman Khurshid explains
Senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid said his illegitimate children jibe about Uttar Pradesh's draft population control bill was aimed at "grabbing eyeballs".
Khurshid was speaking to Hindustan Times' Kumkum Chadha on 'The Interview' where the veteran politician talked about the snooping of individuals through the Pegasus software, the future of the Congress party, the Uttar Pradesh population control bill and other issues.
On the recent reshuffle of the Union Cabinet, Khurshid said that ministers were dropped like "hot potato" ahead of the cabinet reshuffle by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Though he agreed that cabinet reshuffle is the prerogative of the Prime Minister, Khurshid said the move leaves a lot of questions.
Here are the excerpts from the interview:
'Snooping scandal just tip of the iceberg'
Salman Khurshid called the snooping scandal involving the Pegasus software a very serious matter. "I think there is a very sinister element in this kind of snooping. And we probably have heard just the tip of the iceberg," said Khurshid.
The government has been a target of the opposition over alleged snooping of some of the politicians and business people through the Pegasus software.
On sudden exit of ministers from the Union Cabinet
"Khurshid said that the exit of certain ministers from the cabinet leaves a lot of questions. "They were the frontline ministers for the government, performing no worse or better than anyone else in the Cabinet. They would have been surprised that they were being dropped," the Congress leader said.
"And it wasn't like they were being moved to do party work or they were being asked to do something more important. But they just dropped like a hot potato," said the veteran politician, adding, "You feel a little sense of empathy of what one must go through when this kind of thing happens."
Will he empathise with Union Minister Amit Shah if he is shown the door?
Khurshid said that people can feel bad for anyone. "But I think in terms of political analysis, there is a great deal of disquiet about his style of politics."
"But Amit Shah has made it. He obviously had support both from the top and from the bottom, in the sense that he wasn't just picked up from nowhere. And therefore, we have to acknowledge that he's not a person without roots," added Khurshid.
Watch the full interview below:
'No Dhritrashta syndrome in the Congress'
He also denied that the party is suffering from the 'Dhritrashtra syndrome' - a reference to members of only Gandhi family acquiring the top post: "There is nothing written in stone that says that there cannot be a Congress leader other than the Gandhis. The Gandhis have also never proclaimed that. But you have to accept the ground reality - that thousands of people feel a special attachment to the Gandhis," he added while advocating a policy of consensus rather than organisational elections which he said are “divisive”.
He also questioned the intent of Group of 23 leaders of the party who expressed unhappiness with the functioning of the party and sought its rejig. "Why didn't they raise these questions when they were climbing up the ladder? He added that you don’t kick the ladder after reaching the top.
'UP population bill anti-humanitarian, against the poor'
Short of directly saying that the recent draft population control bill by Uttar Pradesh government is “anti-Muslim”, Khurshid said that the draft Bill is “anti humanitarian”. Khurshid said he isn't calling the bill communal "unless the BJP thinks it is", but anti-poor”. He said that the measure will deprive many less privileged communities of government benefits. "Atom bomb was progressive, but ultimately led to incidents like Hiroshima and Nagasaki."
When asked about his 'illegitimate children' jibe, the Congress leader said that since he is asked about these issues, he decided to give an answer which is provocative: “You cannot be boring” he said.
On comment asking the Congress to think big 'like the BJP'
"I never dream of saying 'Let's be like the BJP'. Ideologically, we must not, we cannot. Even if we can't get into power for 100 years, we must not and will not be a BJP," said Khurshid. But he said that there are some things about the BJP "or any political party for that matter" which we should take inspiration from. "If BJP goes to a barren land and says here is where my next harvest will be, why is it that we can't say something similar where we have a lot more going for us than just simple, barren land?" said Khurshid. He further said that if the BJP can have audacity of ambition, we can at least have audacity of hope.