In more signs of the disquiet within the Congress on the line of attack on the Lalit Modi issue, former Union Law Minister and Karnataka Governor Hans Raj Bhardwaj on Wednesday questioned the recent statements of senior party colleagues that the functioning of Parliament would be affected if no action was taken against External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.
“I don’t think it is proper to take such a decision. Whoever has violated any law, the legal course must, and will, follow. But stopping the house from functioning is not good parliamentary practice. Parliament is the highest forum for discussing important issues concerning the people. Even this (Modi-Swaraj-Raje) issue can be discussed on the floor of the house. If the Congress is keen, they (Congress leaders) should discuss this in Parliament, showcase their skills,” said Bhardwaj.
In an interview to The Indian Express, Bhardwaj, who was shunted out as Karnataka Governor immediately after the Congress-led UPA retained power in the 2009 elections, said the Congress, in its current form, was in no condition to stop the Narendra Modi juggernaut. Bhardwaj added that Rahul was “also out of touch” with the ground reality.
“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,” he said, responding to a question on whether the Congress had the ability to counter Modi.
“Now there is no discussion. Where is the Congress today? You tell me who is working (to revive the party). Merely holding press conference, Jairam Ramesh briefing on very petty issues… The IPL issue is exposed, let law enforcement agencies do their job. The Congress must put forward a programme by which we can strengthen our own weak links. Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, where we have no presence, how can we revive the party there? You tell me how can they win in Uttar Pradesh or Bihar? There is no plan. You tell me who is doing what to revive the party?” he asked.
Asked if Rahul was the right person to lead the party, Bhardwaj said, “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 also out of touch.”
Bhardwaj also said that as Law Minister in UPA-I, he had opposed ministers and MPs holding positions in sports associations. “If you hold a public office, how can you hold another office? Even a parliamentarian has to devote his full attention to his constituency and his own job as MP. This is parliamentary ethics and a minister is a public servant who has to devote all his time to the ministry. All these extra-curricular activities disqualify one from holding such an office… after Commonwealth Games scam emerged, I gave an opinion to two-three politician friends that they shouldn’t associate with such activities or run sports associations. I opined that sports bodies should be run by powerful sportsmen like Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar etc. But, unfortunately, nowadays, politicians in every state are grabbing sports bodies, including Olympic associations,” he added.
Since his omission from the cabinet in 2009, Bhardwaj has remained upset with the party and even blamed some senior leaders. Earlier this year, he accused former Home Minister P Chidambaram of propagating the controversial Section 66A of the Information Technology Act.