While joining the BJP, you suggested you were not able to serve the interests of the people or protect their interests in the Congress. What stopped you?
Nothing stopped me. But when you are seen as an organisation, as a party which has no influence and a spent force… is not even the primary opposition. It’s not only about power. Not electorally… you can be in opposition… and still have use to the people. Then people begin to lose hope and you begin to see yourself. And that’s what I felt over the years that I am failing to live up to the expectations of the very people I promised to work for.
Not even the primary opposition?
The party does not have influence on the ground. I am talking about UP. This is as far as my home state goes.
You said you have been thinking about this over the years. Yesterday, you said 8 to 10 years… that is well before the BJP’s ascendancy?
Over the last couple of years is what I meant. Yes it’s not been a sudden decision. It’s not based on a certain individual. After a lot of thinking, I’ve come to this conclusion and this decision. It is not about hankering for [any post]… It’s not about posts. It’s not about a post that I got or didn’t get in the Congress. It’s not about the posts that I will get or not get in the BJP. The BJP does not function on that pattern as well. And if I had to be an opportunist as some people are saying… I would have left seven years back. I wouldn’t have faced two-three defeats in elections. I knew the people’s mood. I also tried to struggle with the party in these years and hoped that we would make a comeback and there will be a turn around. But once I began to feel that there is no effort, direction and a strategy… it is rudderless in terms of revival, especially in UP, then I had to make a decision.
You moved from one ideology to a completely opposing ideology. People are saying you have chosen the easy way out — of moving to a party in power instead of sticking to the ideology in which you believed till yesterday and work for its revival.
People have the right to say what they feel. That is part of public life. But in today’s new India, the only ideology is national interest. And I firmly believe that India’s national interests within the country and abroad are firmly secured in the hands of the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP, which is a truly national party today and works on an institutional pattern. It does not revolve around any individual. I am not talking about any particular party. In general, today most parties in India revolve around individuals and their whims and fancies. What ideology are you talking about? Those who question [my] ideology, they should first look at the ideology which ensured that the Congress party is in government with the Shiv Sena today. They should introspect and talk about that. They should talk about the ideology when on one hand you are lock, stock and barrel opposed to the Left parties in Kerala and on the other hand… at the same time… in the same election, you’re in alliance with the Left in Bengal. You have to talk about the ideology that ensured that a Muslim cleric with suspect credentials was a part of your coalition. And the same was in Assam. There was dilution… those are institutional, ideological disruptions or reversals, which should be answered. Just by taking on and abusing Jitin Prasada is not going to revive the Congress. Whoever is questioning ideological changes and writing and talking and giving gyan… first they should introspect and answer where they were and what they were doing when the Congress party was diverting from its very ideology… core ideology.
You spoke about BJP and national interest. Around the same time last year, you had a completely different opinion. Your then party said the government has ceded territory to China and sacrificed national interest and you echoed all those views.
Of course, you are in opposition… it is our job to question the things that happened. And that’s part of the role of an opposition person and that exactly, but I’ve increasingly felt over time that… in this scenario the best person… where the security of our nation and our boundaries is safest is in the hands of Prime Minister Modi and this government.
You had a completely different opinion last year.
Yes. But over time it has changed. The Congress party had a completely different opinion on Shiv Sena.
On issues such as Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi, CAA-NRC, bifurcation of J&K, Article 370, Uniform Civil Code, how do you now suddenly defend the BJP?
No, no, I am telling you… it is changing and emerging of a new India. I had also supported Article 370 abrogation at that point in time being in the Congress party. I had welcomed the Supreme Court verdict on the Ram Mandir being in the Congress party. So where I felt was in the best interest of this country, I have stood out and made my views clear and not only for the sake of opposing. What I feel is right is right.
What do you think is ailing the Congress?
I am no one to comment on what ails the Congress anymore… You better ask those people who are giving me gyan. Rather they should concentrate on what ails the Congress and what corrective measures they should take, because ultimately that will revive the Congress party, not abusing Jitin Prasada.
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