I am not the NDA’s sacrificial lamb: Jaswant
By Prabhu Chawla
21st July 2012 11:13 PM
I am in the fray for the post of Vice-President because of my principles, but the UPA’s choice is dictated by mathematics, senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh tells The New Indian Express Editorial Director Prabhu Chawla during Teekhi Baat on IBN7. Excerpts:
You have been doing well, with writing books for example, so why get into dirty politics now?
One of the important posts in our country is that of Vice-President, and I am a candidate. Calling it dirty politics is wrong.
I said nothing about the post, but about the politics surrounding the election.
I am trying to ensure that such posts are kept clean, and away from politics.
Are you the party’s candidate or your own?
This rumour got wind because I was told by the party to meet Mulayam Singh. I was told to ask him if APJ Abdul Kalam is the candidate for President, would they support us? Then I went to meet him, and it so happened that a lot of people from your fraternity were present. I did not tell the media anything, and they started drawing inferences.
You did not speak about yourself that time.
Not at all. I did not talk about my candidature because I think these two posts are those that should not be sought by a candidate himself. A consensus from the organisation and the concerned people should emerge.
You’re quite right in saying that these posts should be kept away from politics. But politics happens when there is a contest.
I did not say that keep it away from politics, but from political malice, fights and dirt. Because if we look back, 1969 was a turning point with regards to this post.
That’s when politics came into it...
Personal benefit-based politics entered the fray. The party good and the personal good became one. The politics that started then continues. It would not be right for me to name and explain things, but I see 1969 as a dividing line.
Since 1962, till now only a Congress candidate has been President or Vice-President, except for the period when the NDA was in power. At all times, the candidate supported by the party in power is the one who wins.
I don’t think the numbers favour me this time.
Then why did you give in?
I do not think this is a number game; we have to come together, even experienced people from the media, and rid democracy of its ills.
You think the choice should be unanimous.
Yes, it is true that it should be unanimous, but it is not, so somebody should take a step.
Somebody as liberal and progressive as you? But getting into this kind of politics, riddled with caste and religious overtones, where losing is near-certain, is not in your nature.
At 15, I was a cadet in a military academy. Today I am 73; from 15 to 73, I have been in service of the nation. When I resigned from the army and jumped into politics, my late father told me that a mad dog has bitten you. From then till now, even the people of Rajasthan say this, know this, that I have not practiced politics on the basis of caste. And when I contested the Lok Sabha elections, the party made me contest from constituencies where it seemed impossible to win. By God’s grace, I sailed through.
I am saying this because you said that the party decided to enter you in the contest.
But why does Jaswant Singh have to be a sacrificial goat?
I am not a bakra (sacrificial lamb).
What is the Vice-President’s role? Ansari Sahab has worked with you when you were foreign minister.
I will not say with arrogance that I was a minister and he an ambassador, but I gave him an extension of one year. It is all a matter of time; I have no sad feelings.
What is the difference between the UPA candidate and you?
The reason being that he has been repeated is due to the limited aim of politics. The UPA decision is inspired by mathematics.
Can the Vice-President have an impact on the politics of the nation?
Certainly, Dr. S Radhakrishnan did. During the 1962 war—I was in the army then—he had castigated the government in a composed manner then.
You will need magic to win this election. Where does your hope come from?
There is hope. Who knows what will happen? The nature of politics is to struggle, like water’s is to make wet, fire’s to burn. But I’d rather not tell you where my hope springs from.
Is there any personal politics behind this decision?
Tell me what the personal politics is in this.
The NDA has an excess of prime ministerial hopefuls. Your candidature for Vice-President has a rare acceptability in the NDA. If you make a mark in the election, you would be on the prime ministerial list, and that too as a liberal and democratic candidate.
No, I am not in that race. There is no sense in thinking about such things before time.
People position themselves early, and names are floated...
This is your analysis,
It is your hope...
My hope is to get votes, and not connect it with any other post.
The dots do connect, even if you are not the candidate for Prime Minister.
You can join...
So you are not in the fray.
No, not at all.
If the party asks you to, would you consider?
It is not a question of party, it is a question of NDA.
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