Interview with former Gujarat Chief Minister and Congress election campaign committee chief in the state Shankar Singh Vaghela on Teekhi Baat for IBN 7Excerpts:
PC: You have recently completed fasting, cleansed from inside, in the pink of health, good mind, fasting means this, isn’t it.
SV: For cleansing the spirit, the tool which Gandhiji used, and we also did. We did pray in Gandhiji’s ashram, for cleansing our spirit, and for the cause we are fasting, their spirits should also be cleansed somewhat. To generate empathy in the minds of the people of Gujarat regarding what we are saying, that be proved right.
PC: There is a fashion of politicians fasting these days. Have they become so unclean, that they feel like cleansing their spirits, is that the case?
SV: That is not the way to do a fast, every fast has a cause. Why does one fast, you can ask us why did we do it, then we will say what did the government fast. In India, or all over the world, the person who is running the administration, without any reason, if there is any reason then it is another matter, but when there is no reason, then also they observed a fast. That too for marketing, that too in a five star atmosphere, advertisement of 100-200 crores, on this fast..
PC: What you are saying is fine as you are in opposition, hence will say such things. My question is, there is a saying in Hindi, ‘Guru gud rahe, chela shakkar ho gaye’. That means became better than you.
SV: It is a good thing.
PC: Modi was your chela, you got him into politics. He knows how to do marketing well, you don’t.
SV: Guru- Chela word is not right, he was a subordinate.
PC: You got him into politics, you made him run ahead.
SV: Sure, I got him (in politics), when I was president, he was general secretary. We were a good team, were working well, nothing wrong in it. Not as Guru Chela, whatever one’s capability was, he was working as per his and what way I thought right, it was working that way.
PC: So, you feel now that he defeated you in politics.
SV: I don’t want to go personal.
PC: Winning and losing happens all the time in politics, isn’t it?
SV: It happens all the time.
PC: In today’s day, he has defeated you.
SV: Sportsman spirit means, winning or losing, one must digest losing as well as winning. And there is nothing wrong in it, this is sportsman spirit.
PC: One has a feeling of being proud, an a man who has been president, if he starts aping his chela, starts copying, then people joke about him afterwards.
SV: Please see that is not copying.
PC: Why did not you do some new thing?
SV: It is not about new thing, this was not copying. Prabhuji, I want to tell you that why did the government fast.
PC: Karunanidhi fasted; I can count names of ten more chief ministers who observed fast.
SV: There was a reason, was a reason, everybody had a reason, it may be against the central government. Here you tell me one reason, any damn reason.
PC: He said ‘sadhbhavna’, which means in our country, the divide and rule which was happening.
SV: He would have done it.
PC: But he said he was doing it for 6 crore gujaratis.
SV: All is sadhbhavna from years; he remembered it after ten years. Till now, where this sadhbhavna was lost.
PC: No, in politics, things are remembered on time. When elections come, it is remembered.
SV: He would have done it at opportune moment, may stunt-baazi, marketing would have happened. Something would have happened, but is this the reason, it is not public cause. Fasting should mean self cause and public cause. What is the clear cut meaning of this fast, he should tell one, one, reason why did he fast, one reason.
PC: He gave the reason that he is fasting for his gujaratis, 6 crore gujaratis, regarding whom central government, or the whole propaganda that is happening, the gujratis who have faced troubles, who have been victimised, for that I am fasting, for the asmita for 6 crore gujaratis, and their progress.
SV: Its fine, CM bungalow may be air conditioned, here in Gandhi Nagar, a town hall is air conditioned. What was the need for spending 100-200 crores of rupees, without any reason, spending public money?
PC: I agree with your point, but why was the need for you to ape. You had not planned it earlier.
SV: There was not plan.
PC: They had planned it earlier.
SV: It was not aping, we had said that this fast, when he is fasting, even we in the proximity of Gandiji’s ashram, sitting on the foot path, spread the message to people in and outside the country, that this is reality, in which number one, why did you fast? If you did, then why by spending Rs. 200 crore, and if it is marketing, then please tell that it is marketing.
PC: Modiji is an expert in marketing..
SV: It is a good thing, do it.
PC: He marketed Gujarat all in foreign countries, what US used to say, this is bad, that US think thank says this is very good.
SV: This is wrong.
PC: I am talking about think thank, US Think Thank, they have written a report
SV: It is not written
PC: House of Representatives have written
SV: No, no, it is blot and a big lie.
PC: Please tell me one thing, when decided on doing a fast, have you spoken to any of the central leaders, or you did it because of your own will.
SV: A man does a fast himself. I did not ask my party high command. I asked our colleagues, they said that we also would sit together with you. Our PCC president Arjun Modhawadia was also present.
PC: Arun Modhawadia came with you.
SV: It was not even our party function, there was no party symbol there, no party flag there, it wasn’t even a party sponsored programme, we party people were there.
PC: But the question is, like in Modiji’s support all central leaders came, all chief ministers came, but nobody came for a senior leader like you. Nor anybody gave a statement later
SV: No, there is no question of that happening; it was not a party function. We had not said anything, there was not for marketing, it was also not that somebody would come from outside and praise us. I we would have wanted it, Hon. Prime Minister would have come, if we had wanted Madam Gandhi, in spite of her ill health would have come. This was not a party programme.
PC: Was it Shankar Singh Vaghela’s programme.
SV: No, on behalf of people of Gujarat. We were certainly sitting on the behalf of people of Gujarat.
PC: Which people of Gujarat, when speaking of people of Gujarat, you do believe in democracy, am seeing you for so many years.
SV: Certainly, I do.
PC: The person who the people chose would represent the people of Gujarat, till you don’t defeat him.
SV: That’s ok. That’s ok.
PC: What people were there for you.
SV: That is another issue. You and get people and make them sit inside, that way a crowd can be gathered anywhere.
PC: Shankar Singh Vaghela is also an expert in gathering crowds.
SV: No, we money..
PC: You magic is over now, is it.
SV: There is no question of the same, please see that should be from the heart.
PC: From their heart, are people not with you?
SV: People are, many people are supporting in a goo manner, you would have seen the crowds. People had come, and that to without spending a single paisa. Whereas, here they sent so many luxury buses, Rs. 400 worth food, inside you are fasting, outside mishtan is being cooked, what is the meaning.
PC: But don’t you feel, like as you said now, that it was not a Congress function, that it was your own function.
SV: Not my own.
PC: Meaning on behalf of people you decided, the people of Gujarat who are not with Modi, those will stand by you. But don’t you feel Shankar Singh Vaghela, a very senior leader, who was a chief minister, minister at the centre, even after that you were given no post by them, so you would have an appeal and recognition. People are known by the post they hold. Congress party gave you not post.
SV: There is no question of any post, I am the 2012 election campaign committee chairman, there were talks of president too, it is not that I have not been offered. But election is in 2012, I am the chairman of the campaign committee now. I don’t like that a man be known by his post. He should be known by his work and whatever he does, that is good. Post may be there today, may not be there tomorrow.
PC: If a person is known by his work, many times when the talks about Shankar Singh Vaghela are going on, he himself could not win his own election, how will he get a electoral victory for the Congress.
SV: Please see, even Indiraji lost an election, Atal Behari Vajpayee also lost, Advaniji never used to stand for Lok Sabha elections, it is we who got him here and he stood for Lok Sabha. That is a different issue, winning elections is not the criteria of public life. Jaiprakash Narayan, for the full life, Gandhiji, for the full life, did not participate in vote politics.
PC: But you yourself lost an election, but under your leadership elections were fought in 2002, after that in 2009 were also fought, you lost both.
SV: Might happen, might have happened, losing and winning is a criterion. Man studies, gives exam, passes, even fails.
PC: Every time he fails, two times (you) have met with failure
SV: Two times have not failed.
PC: Two times (you) have failed.
SV: No, no.
PC: 2002 and 2007
SV: In 2002, when assembly elections were to happen, that time..Godhra, 2007, Mian Musharraf and Sorabuddin, full Gujarat was divided in minority and majority, Hindu and Muslim, emotions were provoked.
PC: Speaking of provocation, even you can provoke
SV: No, no
PC: Even about you things were said regarding appeasement, to make Muslims happy.
SV: No, no question of that, it is automatic, there is no appeasement. Those people were in trying to appease who did not wear the cap, if you did not have to wear the cap, then why you called.
PC: No, will not wear cap, all of you who wore cap did not say no…he does not get into doing appeasement, his whole agenda is clear,
SV: I have doubt, caps were bought from the market, bohra brothers, come wear caps, call your wives in burqa. That means Muslim community was called specially. The whole party was involved and when party fell short, the police was involved. And, the police used lathis, then why you had called. And when somebody comes, he wants to felicitate you. Talking about felicitation, brother- brother will wear on pagdi, Rajput – then another pagdi, if any other community – then the third pagdi,
PC: Yes, in our country, different communities wear different caps.
SV: if there is a Muslim – then their cap. If they wear then why does not he, then why did he call. What brand you had to develop.
PC: What you want to say.
SV: I want to say, when you talk of appeasement, that is happening there, please see that.
PC: Now talking of appeasement, Muslim reservation is being talked about, that minorities should get reservation in corporate sector, in jobs, is this not appeasement, why did not you think of it in the past 60 years. Congress party was in power for the past 47 years, then why didn’t you remember reservation for minorities.
SV: From where did SC/ST reservation come.
PC: That was written in the constitution.
SV: For how many years it was there.
PC: It was for 10 years.
SV: It is going on, from where OBC (reservation) come, it wasn’t there.
SV: It came.
SV: So, there are poor people in Muslim community who don’t even get bread to eat. For them, in a special case, their education, jobs for them, they will get bread, what is wrong if the government worries about this.
PC: Modiji gave a slogan, ‘saabka saath, saabka vikaas’ , this is his slogan, isn’t it
SV: Give any slogan, what happens by giving a slogan.
PC: It is an inclusive slogan that I want to take everybody together,.
SV: It is a good thing.
PC: there is no politics behind this
SV: Without politics no work is done.
PC: There are slogans in politics, and then what you are doing is also politics.
SV: Our slogan,
PC: Congress ka haath sabke saath.
SV: We try after that, here words are used, issue over.
PC: You have no objection to ‘ Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas”
SV: There is no question of that, if it is used in the right manner.
PC: Development has happened or not in Gujarat.
SV: It has not happened.
PC: Planning Commission is your government.
SV: Certainly, it is.
PC: Their figures are released, that Gujarat has seen the most growth among all.
SV: No, it is a wrong.
PC: Didn’t they say?
SV: May or may not have said..
PC: No, they might have said, or they have not said it.
SV: They have not said it. Planning Commission has said there is good growth. In Gujarat, before this, till 16 per cent..
PC: In some era
SV: It means that it is not right to say that only in his time development has been done.
PC: No, no from the time BJP government has come, three terms have been done, it has been the most, and before that the state was on number 3.
SV: See, that happened during their rule. During our rule, it was number one, number two. And 15 year old man…
PC: Then you were in a different government.
SV: becomes 17 year old, he gets beard, grows muscle, 17 year old grows to be 20 year old, that is development, natural development.
PC: Ratan Tata, who had given some adverse comments on Modi when 2002 riots had happened, now he is in his line. Maruti, which is 50 per cent owned Government of India’s is now in line.
SV: What is it for the business community, if you get free, 10,000 crore without interest loan for 30 years, then who will not come. One will be a Donkey if he does not come here.
PC: Shankarsinghji, in your time and before that the Congress did not give land to any industry.
SV: No. Land was given, not this way, was not distributed.
PC: Was it given in West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh.
SV: It was given all over the country.
PC: Has the centre given it.
SV: Has given, but should not give it for free by alienating own people. Here there were grazing lands, government land, all of which was given.
PC: But government on development, people will get jobs.
SV: No, this way will not get.
PC: Which government who has not given land to industrialist till today.
SV: Tata Nano was made, please tell me what benefit Gujarat has, has he given employment to one lakh people.
PC: In addition to jobs, you will get tax.
SV: Nothing, where does tax come.
PC: You will get local tax, excise, sales tax.
SV: Will the Gujrati get Maruti for Rs. 15,000 less.
PC: According to you, should Tata not have come.
SV: No, no, let anybody come, come on your own terms.
PC: Till now what benefit did the state get.
PC: Does that mean they should not have come.
SV: Tata got benefit, what did we get.
PC: It means Maruti should not be given land now.
SV: Let anybody take, but the state should get benefit.
PC: The state should get the benefit.
SV: Not in terms of revenue
PC: But they will also generate employment.
SV: Gujarat government levies the highest VAT on petrol, revenue is generated, what is the meaning of then. Inflation rises; you are troubling farmers for state’s revenue.
PC: Why the farmer here is quiet, while there in UP, he is ready to face bullets, here the farmer must be happy.
SV: Here 7000 farmers committed suicide, in Gujarat, do you know.
PC: 19,000 committed suicide in Maharashtra.
SV: May have done, there might be a reason there. Even here there is a reason.
PC: Many did in Andhra.
SV: May be, there may be a reason; here also there is a reason, that means what you say that the farmer does nothing.
PC: What does the farmer foes not stage a dharna, like in UP
SV: In Gandhi Nagar, Kisan Sangh, which is of RSS, they were sitting some days ago, they did dharna, all over Kutch. All over Gujarat, there is hue and cry among farmers. Farmers do not get electricity.
PC: Please tell me one thing, why you are so much against Modi, is it personal.
SV: Please see, I am sorry Prabhuji, I am personally not against. On his birthday, wished him publicly, please see, personally, we have no rivalry. Neither I want to do any personal character assassination. One must not get personal in politics.
PC: The whole world is agreeing that development is happening here, you are saying development didn’t happen. You say corruption happened..
SV: Yes, it did, I give two examples. Rs. 1.30 lakh crore debt on the people of Gujarat, when a boy is born he is born with the debt on his head. 10 lakh people are unemployed, there is not enough power.
PC: How much was the unemployment when you were the chief minister
SV: There were six lakh, from which employment was given to one lakh people,
PC: How much population increased since then?
SV: out of which gave employment to a lakh. Gujarat government has not given employment to one lakh people.
PC: Do you know how much load the public of India have one them
SV: May be.
PC: Central government has taken how much loan
SV: May be
PC: Since your government has come, three times loan has increased on the public.
SV: May be, for development.
PC: For development it needs to be done.
SV: For development, but please ask them where did this money go.
PC: When we talk of corruption, many times it is a political issue. When you were the chief minister, the Congress government has levelled memorandum of corruption against you.
SV: Certainly, they had.
PC: And even now it is in record.
PC: Then was it politically motivated or not.
SV: See, we people had gone to the Lokayukta.
PC: No, no was that politically motivated or not.
SV: There may be politically motivated allegations. In reality when it is diverted to Lokayukta, then Lokayukta gives a clean chit that it is baseless allegations of corruption. We faced the Lokayukta, that time, the Lokayukta was appointed in consultation with BJP, then Soni saab was there, we went to him.
PC: That time it was your government, you were in the BJP then, then
SV: No, I wasn’t.
PC: After that you became chief minister for a year.
SV: No, it was not that, I was not chief minister then, after that I went to the Lokayukta. That time I was not CM. The question is why you are scared of Lokayukta. And CAG levelled a Rs. 26,500 crore allegation against him, CAG did, we didn’t. We have levelled of one lakh crore, that is different, we have given it to the Hon. President. But the CAG has said that give the account details of Rs. 26,500 crore, there have been corruption. And let anything happen, if you are no theif, don’t accept bribe, do let anybody accept bribe, and if you are not corrupt, then why are you scared of Lokayukta. Why?
PC: Please tell me one thing, after CAG report, your Delhi Government, CAG’s ambit is not to see corruption, here you are saying that they have asked explanation of corruption. Even there people are asking accounts from you every day.
SV: There after demanding accounts, there is action, this is the difference between the BJP and the Congress. If anything happens concerning us, we act. Chavan (referring to former Maharasthra chief minister Ashok Chavan) was removed from Mumbai, Kalmadi went inside, Raja went, Kanimozhi went, and there may be somebody who may go.
PC: From other parties many people went, only one person from your party went.
SV: No, no, let anybody go.
PC: Chavan is sitting where he was.
SV: No, he ceased to be CM.
PC: He ceased to be CM but you saved him.
SV: See, what happened, Lokayukta in Karnataka.
PC: He was removed, he went, after Lokayukta said.
SV: When? How? What happened in Uttranchal
PC: Even he was removed.
SV: That too how, when you act, when thing public opinion will go too negative, you will die..
PC: I want to state the point made by you again, I will ask you once again, why did you lose 2002 elections,
SV: Hindu – Muslim…
PC: why did you lose 2007 election
SV: Bhaiiya Musharraf and Sohrabuddin. ..Hindu Muslim..
PC: Communalisation happened..
PC: You don’t think Soniaji has said ‘Maut ka Saudagar’, because of it that happened.
SV: Certainly not, she said absolute correct thing.
PC: Now that you are starting from Ashapura, and what you are doing here, are you going to be Hinduwadi, will you start canvassing for elections from Hindu temple like Rajiv Gandhi did from Ayodhaya.
SV: Certainly can do, by birth, I am Hindu. By name, I am Hindu..
PC: And you are proud to be Hindu.
SV: See, everybody is proud of his religion.
PC: No, I am asking you.
SV: Even we are proud of ours. Muslim, even he is proud of his, nothing wrong in it. That, which was done that time, because Navratri, in Gujarat for bhakti of mata, and 2012 elections we are seeing may happen 6 months earlier. Hence, we are short in time, so there we took mataji ke darshan and taking the blessings.
PC: You announced election rally that time.
SV: We announced election campaign
PC: And you started from the temple there.
SV: Our first day, after mataji’s darshan, Bhuj, Kutch,is the epicentre of the corruption of the government.
PC: I mean to say that the second you are starting from Ambaji.
SV: Starting from Ambaji.
PC: Hence, the election campaign committee, of who you are chairman, that will start campaign from Hindu temple, this is a transformation, your heart transformation.
SV: Between to Mataji, there is Haji Peer on Pakistan Kutch border. Haji Peer, after Mataji’s darshan we are going for Maththa tekna at Haji Peer.
PC: It is on the way that is why.
SV: If anything is left, tell, we will go to Jains Palitana also, Sardarji’s Gurudwara also, Christian’s Churches also.
PC: How many seats will you win, now that elections are being fought under your leadership, how many seats you will win?
SV: How should be there in majority those many will come.
PC: Will you become chief minister.
SV: I don’t think, party will decide.
PC: But you are a candidate
SV: No, I have completed my personal ambition, let anybody in centre, CM but majority should come, BJP’s government should go, for this we are going to work.
PC: You will call Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi for campaign. Their former campaign was not successful.
SV: Everytime, everything should be successful, that is not necessary. That is why when the time of election comes, developments happen, Rahulji will also come, Soniaji will come, our other leaders will come.
PC: Do you think, Rahul came last time, but you were not successful, you said you lost because of Mian Mussharaf, and because of some other reason.
SV: Please see, success if not decided by an incident. Where Rahul went, success happens, somewhere we lose also.
PC: He went to Bihar, there also you lost.
SV: May be possible.
PC: Went to Tamil Nadu, there also you lost.
SV: Our CM saab of here (Gujarat), went where, even there also they lost, and Bihar CM said Nooooo
PC: We will not call you
SV: That pravesh bandi (no entry )is being done, at our party such a thing is not there, Rahulji ..can come any time
PC: If Gujarat’s chief minister, is become Prime Ministerial candidate, what objection do you have.
SV: Where, who said.
PC: People are saying he is Prime Ministerial candidate
SV: Voters will decide party will promote whom.
PC: Your good wishes should be there for somebody to be Gujarati Prime Minister.
SV: Our Gujaratis, who are from Congress,
PC: From Gujarat one time Morarji Desai became
SV: Vajpayee sahab bane
PC: Vajpayee sahab is not Gujarati.
SV: That is another issue..even Advani sahab.
SV: He was our representative.
PC: So, don’t you think a pucca Gujarati from here should become Prime Minister, you should give good wishes.
SV: Good Wishes, when the likewise result comes ,will give, but now without any reason, this marketing, in the name of fast, the wasting of money of the people of Gujarat, Rs. 200 crore, I don’t thing from anywhere sadhbhavna will be generated among people. In people durbhavna has been generated.
PC: I am asking last question to you, people say that even big leaders from the party are not with you. It is ok that they want to keep you with them. Because you are a old time RSS man, hence your influence may be not as strong as original Congressmen. Because, originally Congressmen influence is there because they thing their in house person is always good, outsider is bad. It happens in every party, even in Congress. Hence, Ahmed Patel made candidate stand against you,
SV: Didn’t do.
PC: Somebody else did. Do you thing central leaders are with you fully with their heart.
SV: See, due to grace of god, in India, let it be any big leader from any party, I have personal house visit relations. In Congress, Soniaji, Rahulji, Ahmed bhai, PM, Pranab Babu, whoever is there, all general secretary, with everybody, personal relations are there, they regard us so much, have so much trust. And this trust only will work, they said by any ways, you get our government in power. With full confidence, including Madam Gandhiji, that is why we say that Madam please come and get us to do varna.
PC: Will you take sanyas if you lose elections for the third time.
SV: Will not take sanyas, and will introspect what happened, but what you are saying is not going to happen now.
PC: No, am asking by the way, from both sides, whatever will happen, the public will do, neither you or me can do.
SV: It is true, but will not take sanyas this way. Not being active in politics is one thing, not being active in public life is another. Anything may happen but
PC: Will you be active in politics or no.
SV: That will be seen at that time, at that time it will be seen. I don’t think…I had said earlier that I will retire from politics early, not today, three four years ago, but had put a clause that after dislodging BJP government.
PC: No, now your son has become old, is fighting elections and winning, hence his number will come after you.
SV: No, don’t believe in that parivarvad, his merits…
PC: He will win on his own.
SV: Will win it is fine, otherwise, we will not be pushing him.
PC: But after losing also you will be in public life.
SV: Yes, I am there and will be.