On Lalit Modi, IPL and his links with politicians:
IPL was flourishing till it was reported that it had become a source of money-laundering. I think action in respect of this matter started during UPA-2 and there was investigation, which went on till this government came to power. When I was (Karnataka) governor I came to know that there was widespread corruption and that is why I never went to watch a single match despite many requests. I avoided it because the whole complexion of cricket was changed by bringing in dancing girls and other such things. After coming back from Karnataka, I saw what was really happening. It is amazing that an entire lot of politicians are involved in the IPL and they have become so involved that they are now attacking one another.
On whether UPA didn’t take prompt enough action on its own leaders involved in IPL and BCCI:
The Congress lost a lot of credibility due to its association with such characters. Otherwise, except for Rajiv Shukla, who I think took an interest due to Shah Rukh Khan, no important Congress leader was involved in IPL. But (Lalit) Modi was everybody’s friend… whether here in Delhi or in Mumbai or Chennai. He was the top guy and nobody could avoid him. This included some Congressmen.
On whether senior political leaders should avoid heading sports associations:
100 per cent. If you hold a public office, how can you hold another office?… All these extra-curricular activities disqualify one from holding such an office.
On Congress leaders including Jairam Ramesh raising the issue of links between Lalit Modi and Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje:
Jairam Ramesh can speak on anything… he speaks indiscriminately on everything, that is his trait… But, where have you brought the politics? To a low level. You are attacking children of one another. That is not politics. You must debate public issues… Jairam Ramesh has brought a lot of controversy in the Congress… I think the Congress is further damaging itself by aligning itself with the internal politics of the BJP.
On whether the Congress is correct in threatening to stall the monsoon session if Union minister Sushma Swaraj and Raje don’t resign.
Whoever has violated any law, the legal course must and will follow. But stopping the House from functioning is not good parliamentary practice… If Congress is keen, they should discuss this in Parliament, showcase their skills.
On whether the Congress has any future from this stage:
I don’t want to go into the history of the party, how great leaders have led this party, how systematically the party has been made to suffer… Now, many people who don’t believe in the philosophy of Gandhiji, Nehru, Sardar Patel, Abdul Kalam Azad have got access to the party… time-servers have got in. We were not time-servers. I stood by Indira Gandhi after the Emergency in what was the most difficult time. I was a lawyer then, not a politician. I sincerely feel the Indian people respect this family…
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On the Congress today:
The Congress suffered (in the 2014 elections) due to adverse public opinion formed during the India Against Corruption campaign. Everybody knows that the overall performance of Dr Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister was excellent… But some of his ministerial colleagues destroyed Indian National Congress and he had no power to stop them. He is suffering now due to that only, cases have been filed against him also. You need introspection at the highest level as to why it happened. Has there been any soul-searching? The result is that again wrong decisions are being taken. The result is that today we have no direction. Unless you strengthen your cadre, bring back old people… how can you say old people will have no role? We have benefited from the party and we want to give back something. Don’t give any office to us. The young people should come up but the old guard should also have a role.
On the view that there is no direction in the party:
Now there is no discussion. Where is Congress today? You tell me who is working (to revive the party). Merely holding press conferences, Jairam Ramesh briefing on very petty issues. IPL issue is exposed, let law-enforcement agencies do their job. Congress must put forward a programme by which we can strengthen our weak links.
On whether Rahul Gandhi is the right man to lead the party:
Rahul is a young man. He has to lead the young people. But he is not in touch with the senior people, he doesn’t show any inclination. So he is out of touch. I was in his father’s cabinet, I filed his first election nomination. But he didn’t join the cabinet of Dr Manmohan Singh and learn these things.
On whether the Congress can counter Narendra Modi:
No. They are not in a fit state of health to control this powerful campaigner, who is backed by a powerful cadre. That is why there was a virtual walkover in 2014. Where was the comparison in campaign, comparison in putting up the case before people? He (Modi) put his case very powerfully and that is why people confided their trust in him. That is why he brought unprecedented success for the BJP whereas L K Advani, who led the campaign in 2009, was rejected against Manmohan Singh. This time, their choice to lead the campaign was a strong campaigner. And he led the party to victory with his hard work and meticulous planning in every aspect.
On whether this is missing in the Congress:
Congress is no rival. They destroyed Andhra Pradesh. What was the need? I have always felt the South is more secular than the North. Andhra Pradesh always stood by Congress. And they divided it. What was the reason? It was an unnecessary exercise and they were reduced to (nothing).
On whether the way forward is for the Congress leadership to apologise for corruption under UPA governments:
I think if somebody owns up to his mistakes, it is a very fine gesture. Because introspection is allowed in public life. So do introspection, then make a sincere commitment to the country, people may start relying on you. What happened in Delhi? Both major parties lost miserably. People don’t like rampant corruption, they want quick results, they want anticipatory success. So whoever is the leader has to plan it out, you and I can’t plan for the Congress… the commitment of the Congress is not what they have been doing. The commitment of the party is to deal with powerful sections of the society, namely peasants, workers, the poorest of the poor. Part of it is also to take care of the minorities… Congress has a tradition of doing this but that is missing now. You can’t become Hindu at Hindu times and Muslim at Muslim times… We must also avoid scandals because they bring the party down in the estimation of the people… that is why we lost.