Sunday 20 August 2017 News Updated at 01:08 PM IST
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'For the BJP, nothing else matters' - Deccan Herald
'For the BJP, nothing else matters'
Sagar Kulkarni, DH News Service, New Delhi,
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The BJP’s aggressive expansion plans across the country have hit the Congress hard. The latest troubles for the party are in Gujarat and Karnataka. In an interview with Sagar Kulkarni of DH, senior Congress leader P C Chacko admitted that the party was passing through a bad time. Excerpts:

After coming to power, Prime Minster Narendra Modi said he would not pursue vendetta politics.

Chacko: The prime minister has always said one thing and done just the opposite. So, we cannot take him by his words. In Bihar, Nitish Kumar walked out of the Grand Alliance on grounds of corruption allegations against a minister. But in his present government more than 50% of his ministers have criminal cases. So, are the JD(U) and the BJP against corruption? No. Are they against crime? No. It was merely a case of political vendetta.

They lost in Bihar, Goa and Manipur but still formed governments there. This shows that the have very scant regard for the mandate of the people.

Why raids in Karnataka?

After tasting blood in the topple game in Bihar, they wanted to do the same in other places also. If D K Shivakumar was in confrontation with the income tax department, why did the raids not take place earlier? The timing of the raids is suspect. The raids took place only after Shivakumar was put in-charge of these 44 MLAs from Gujarat who are staying in Karnataka. That is the sole reason. They want to defeat Ahmed Patel in the Rajya Sabha election despite being short on numbers.

BJP seems to have a hunger for power. Has the Congress lost its appetite?

For the BJP, nothing else matters. What matters is power at any cost and power using any method. We were in power for a long time. But we used power for national reconstruction. We did not use power to kill enemies or settle scores with political opponents.

So, will Congress-mukt Bharat be a reality?

Absolutely not. The Congress is in every inch of land in India. Even if we are not there in Parliament, India will not be mukt (free) from Congress. We will bounce back. Indira Gandhi was hounded post emergency. But within years she bounced back. Congress has lost many times, but every time we have bounced back with more numbers. That is the lesson of history.

What should the Congress do to counter the BJP?

BJP is pursuing unethical tactics. They will fail if we consistently go ahead with our political work. We are quite sure that in the coming elections in 2019 we will score better. The 2014 loss was an accident. There was an avalanche of allegations against the Congress, 99% of which were not proved. People now know that a lot of these were exaggerated.

The people in villages - they may not be able to write their names - but they are far more politically conscious. Rural India will revolt against Modi. Our 70 years of experience tells us that an artificial climate created against anyone is like a bubble. It will burst.

The Congress leadership, too, has come under a cloud. It has not been able to stop this exodus. Do you think a change in approach is required to handle things better?

We should not get disappointed by failure. It was the same leadership - Sonia Gandhi - that led the party to victory in 2004. We were in power for 10 years. There was a time when people were abusing Sonia Gandhi. She stitched the alliance of the UPA and defeated the NDA. The very same leadership is with us. Why should we be afraid?

But the leadership under question is that of Rahul.

Rahul is adding to the strength of the Congress. Rahul does not mean that we are less by any degree. Rahul with Sonia is an added advantage for the Congress. The time is bad and hence we are losing. But we are not disillusioned. We are not going to say that we are wrong. We are quite confident that we will make a comeback.

With Nitish Kumar’s exit, is the 2019 anti-BJP Grand Alliance history?

Fickle-minded people cannot form strong coalitions. After Nitish parted ways with the BJP in 2013, Rahul brought him and Lalu Prasad together. We were able to defeat the BJP. Had the SP, BSP and the Congress come together, the same Bihar could have been repeated in Uttar Pradesh. But we will not get cowed down. Even Lalu Prasad, despite Modi’s machinations, will fight back. He is the most popular leader in Bihar, not Nitish.