5 Questions: ‘We should avoid vicious, personalised attacks’

Cong’s Rajya Sabha MP Ashwani Kumar speaks to The Indian Express. Excerpts:

Written by Manoj C G | New Delhi | Updated: December 24, 2015 2:55:04 am
congress, Cong Rajya Sabha MP, Cong Rajya Sabha MP Ashwani Kumar, Arun jaitley, Ashwani jaitley, DDCA, jaitley DDCA, Jaitley congress, India latest news Cong’s Rajya Sabha MP Ashwani Kumar.

Your party stalled Rajya Sabha over the DDCA issue despite Finance Minister Arun Jaitley agreeing to a debate.

How can the Opposition be faulted for its demand, given that a senior BJP MP has given documentary evidence of wrongdoing, establishing at least a prima facie case for action… Should the Opposition give up its right to oppose and expose? Can the Opposition be faulted for expecting the BJP leadership to stand by its own standards of political morality which it propounded while in the Opposition?

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On the merits of the case, Jaitley is entitled to invoke the judicial process… I also know that personalised and vicious accusations should be avoided. I am deeply anguished to see that politics, anchored in the persecution of political opponents and arrogance of power, has led to a situation in which Parliament has become dysfunctional…

Many UPA ministers, including you, had to resign after BJP’s persistent demands. Is this payback time for the Congress?

One could feel a sense of vindictive retributive justice in all that we are seeing today. What happened to me was wrong and I would say that nobody should be personally calumniated while we raise issues of larger political morality. Every individual is entitled to have his dignity preserved. Even a criminal is entitled to a modicum of dignity… While political parties are entitled to raise political issues and issues of political morality, it is equally true that we have to be guarded in our language so that we don’t cross the bounds of civility.

Your partymen too level personal allegations.

I would say the same for all. Nobody should use harsh and vicious language against anyone.

There was no movement on GST Bill, for which the govt is blaming the Congress.

The Congress remains committed in principle to the GST Bill… We have raised three principal issues — two have been supported by the government’s chief economic advisor, but no concrete official formulation or counter proposal has been received from the government… Parliamentary processes depend on political consensus on key issues. The task of consensus building requires statesmanship, generosity and humility. This is the challenge for the BJP leadership.

The government says your stand on GST is linked to the National Herald case.

Democratic politics can never be divorced from sentiments and sensitivities. What does one make of a situation in which the leadership of the principal Opposition party is dragged to a criminal court in a vexatious and patently malafide case by a complainant, with full endorsement by the top leadership of the ruling dispensation. This is bound to result in an antagonistic emotion. I agree that the quality and content of political discourse… brings us no credit. The polity must collectively resolve to redeem the situation…

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