Monday, 27 June 2011

No standing offer of support to Congress party: Jayalalithaa

No standing offer of support to Congress party: Jayalalithaa

In an absolutely categorical statement, leaving no room for speculation, AIADMK Chief and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa ended all speculation of any offer of support from her side to the UPA government. Ms Jayalalithaa had first made an offer of support to the UPA on 11 Nov 2010, prior to the removal of A Raja as Union Telecom Minister. Today, she told TIMES NOW that the November 2010 offer was a onetime offer and that there was no question of working with the Congress at present. By describing her offer as a onetime offer, Ms Jayalalithaa has put an end to talk about a political realignment with the Congress.

Excerpts from the interview

TIMES NOW: Ms Jayalalithaa, I've always considered you to be forthright and direct. When you spoke to me last in November 11, 2010, you made a dramatic offer, and I'm quoting you, you said if required, the AIADMK would be willing to support the Centre. May I ask you ma'am, the circumstance and context in which you said it, and how you look back at it now?

Jayalalithaa: In November 2010, the entire political situation was different. At that time, the Centre had not taken any action against those involved in 2G spectrum scam, though the nation was expecting, no action was taken. So at that time there was a feeling that the centre was hesitating due to the compulsions of coalition politics. So that is why I made the offer, so that the Congress could feel assured, so that would not have to suffer, in case the DMK withdrew their support from the Government at the Centre. It was in that context that I made the offer, so that the Congress that was heading the coalition at the centre would be reassured, so that if it did take strong action against corruption, the govt would not suffer and the govt would not fall because of such action. So that they could continue, it was to give them that reassurance and the confidence that I made that offer. But now, the situation has totally changed, the Congress has made it clear that it has an alliance with the DMK, and it did face the elections with the DMK, and even after the results were known and they suffered a massive defeat, the congress continues to say that they have an alliance with DMK, and it continues to be a part of the ruling coalition, and till date it is an important part of the alliance.

TIMES NOW: So Ms Jayalalithaa, why were they so cool to your offer at that point of time? Because it was a very explicit offer, in fact you even put out the numbers, you said to them that the Cong does not want to lose the support of those 18 but now, and I'm quoting you, the DMK's position has become untenable, Raja's position became untenable, and in fact Raja went 3 days after, my question, Ms Jayalalithaa, is why were they cool to you? And do you think you set the ball rolling for Raja's ouster?

Jayalalithaa: That’s what the entire nation felt and said. But as to why Cong didn’t take up my offer, you should put it to the Cong. It is all history to me, it is in the past, it was a totally different scenario, totally different situation in politics now. It doesn't exist anymore.

TIMES NOW: But don't you think political alliances Ms Jayalalithaa, the Congress leaders have said and I'm quoting them, that the relationship with the DMK and the case against Mr Raja are not related. That’s what they say

JAYALALITHAA: But that’s not the way the nation sees it, that’s not the way the people see it

TIMES NOW: But my question again, Ms Jayalalithaa, I'm going to be persistent in this, I can't fathom why they said no to you. The relationship with the DMK did not work electorally, they had a standing offer from and yet they didn't take up the offer, act on Raja, It’s a bit of a piecemeal effort isn't it?

JAYALALITHAA: You used the words standing offer. It wasn't a standing offer made in November. It wasn't a standing offer. And I repeat, as to why the cong didn't take up that offer, they should answer it, they are the best judges and they should answer your question. As far as I'm concerned, I made that offer in a particular context, in a particular situation. And as far as I am concerned, that situation doesn't exist any more

In a very significant comment AIADMK Chief Jayalalithaa said that political realignment can happen before 2014 general election. ‘Anything can happen anytime,’ she said to TIMES NOW when asked about the possibility of an election before 2014. Ms Jayalalithaa said the people of the country want a strong and authoritative government to give them a sense of security and because she was aware of the popular mood, she did not rule out the possibility of national political realignment in the near future. Interestingly she refused to explain why she felt why such a realignment can happen anytime soon. Ms Jayalilthaa’s comments on the possibility of realignment, along with her statement that there is no standing offer to the Congress will increase speculation on her role in national politics.

TIMES NOW: Do you think coalition politics with a greater role for regional players is the order of the day?

JAYALALITHAA: I can't make any predictions, I'm not an astrologer, but in trying to answer your questions, I can only say that it does seem that the days of single party majority rule are over. I think we are destined to live with coalition governments in the future. I don't think any party is capable of getting a single majority on its own

TIMES NOW: By that definition, you as leader of one of the largest parties apart from the Congress and the BJP in the present political situation in India, in 2014, you will be a major player. You can't restrict yourself to Chennai

JAYALALITHAA: Let us wait for the next general election to come around. Its hardly been a month, a month and a half or may be a little over a month since I took over. Lets see how this turns out

TIMES NOW: Can I please interpret your earlier answer, you seem to indicate a midterm election could happen, before 2014.

JAYALALITHAA: Anything can happen at any time. I didn't say something would happen. Anything can happen. We have to be prepared

TIMES NOW: Prior to 2014?

JAYALALITHAA: Possibly, anything can happen

TIMES NOW: Why do you say so?

JAYALALITHAA: No, I don’t want to elaborate

Ms Jayalalithaa also made it clear that she had moved on from 1999 when she withdrew MP’s from the Vajpayee government leading to its downfall. In a candid admission to TIMES NOW, she said that in the present context she might have acted differently given her increased political experience. Her comments on the BJP, in the backdrop of her meeting with Sushma Swaraj and Narendra Modi, will increase the speculation about the AIADMK can team up with the BJP in the future

Excerpts from the interview

TIMES NOW: Everyone is very keen to know what you have been talking to top BJP leaders & there has been a great deal of attention paid to your meeting with Sushma Swaraj, on the fact that Narendra Modi being present for you swearing in ceremony, a very important gesture. Ideologically, surely you have no differences with the BJP in terms of working with them

JAYALALITHAA: Earlier when Mr Narendra Modi was sworn in as the Chief Minister for the 2nd time, I attended his swearing in ceremony in Ahmedabad in 2002. So Modi returned the compliment now when I was sworn in. When you refer to Sushma Swaraj, you are omitting Shiela Dikshit. Both Mrs Sheila Dikshit and Sushma Swaraj are very charming and gracious ladies, both are my friends and paid courtesy calls and especially called on me to congratulate me on my victory in the recent Assembly elections. Mr Ravishankar Prasad is a very good friend of mine and has appeared as a lawyer for me in some cases, so we know each other really well. So, we call on each other when we get the chance

TIMES NOW: People say Narendra Modi could be a Prime Ministerial candidate of the BJP, Sushma could be Prime Ministerial candidate so there is slight difference between them and Shiela Dikshit and 2 other leaders who you mentioned. Therefore the general feeling is that everyone in the BJP especially those who are aspirants for the top job would believe that they can't get there without your support. Do you feel that is not an important inference for us to draw about your meetings with the BJP

JAYALALITHAA: I have friends in all the parties. My friends have spread all over the political spectrum so I have good friends in BJP, Congress and other political parties too. They call on me as friends. They are friendly visit and if you choose to read more into it, then I am not responsible for it. Its not my problem
TIMES NOW: The Congress party said when the Gujarat CM was here at your swearing in ceremony - They said ' I don’t think there needs to be any elaboration that the Guj CM has orchestrated the worst genocide in Independent India and therefore should not be touched with a Barge pole. This comment was made only because Modi came here for your swearing in ceremony

JAYALALITHAA: Let us not get into a discussion on Narendra Modi. He is a good friend, that’s all.

TIMES NOW: When you look back at 1998-'99 you said that time moves on and political views change. The reasons for which you had differences with the NDA in 1999 and now when you look at it in 2011 - Could there be a fresh start?

JAYALALITHAA: Any person evolves with time and experience. It’s the same with any political leader. If the same situation that occurred in 1999 had arisen today I would have acted differently and responded differently. You gain experience as time goes on. So, what was your question?

TIMES NOW: When you look back at 1999, the circumstances in which you withdrew you support from the NDA and in 2011 when you look back, you say that things move on, you say you could have reacted differently

JAYALALITHAA: I would like to stress on one thing, if you constantly keep looking back and harping on what goes on in the past, you cannot go on, can't do politics, so if you insist on what transpired in the past, and you dwell on issued that happened in the past, you are stagnating. You are preventing yourself from moving forward. As far as I am concerned, I live in the present and look towards the future

Ms Jayalalithaa also did not rule out the possibility of a third front. IN the past the AIADMK has been open to the possibility of a third front that would play a significant role. In 2007 and also before 2009 General Elections, Ms Jayalalithaa had been in touch with important political parties. When asked about whether she would be a part of a third front, she did not rule out the possibility.

TIMES NOW: In today's political environment if Jayalalithaa is ambivalent, not ambivalent perhaps, but equidistant from both the parties then that would throw up a whirlwind of opportunities for political parties in Delhi. What about the possibility of a 3rd front. It did badly in the 2009 elections. Do you think, given the federal structure of our politics and the fact that states need a greater voice at the Centre - that it is realistic or unrealistic of perhaps a 3rd front in the future.

JAYALALITHAA: Anything can happen in politics and particularly in India anything can happen in Indian politics so let us wait and see what he future throws up.

TIMES NOW: Would it be unrealistic to think about it ?

JAYALALITHAA: I said lets wait and see what the future throws up. The future may not be so long away either.

TIMES NOW: Why do you say that. The future is quite far away as of now

JAYALALITHAA: Well thats what you think but there could be changes earlier. As I said you never know what will happen because one can generally sense what is the mood of the people. the people of this country want a change. They want a strong Government in the Centre. They want a strong authoritative Govt at the Centre. They want a Govt that will have a no nonsense attitude towards corruption & they want a Govt that will provide security against our unfriendly, hostile neighbours. So anything can happen in the future.

At the time when the BJP is not taking a position on the Prime Minister coming under the purview of the Lokpal bill, Ms Jayalalithaa was extremely categorical in opposing the idea. She laid out clearly her reasons. Saying that it could have an impact on the security and it could lead to a situation where foreign powers may try to use the office of Lokpal to destabilize the government.

TIMES NOW: I would request you to give me your observations on the national mood.. you’ve seen the Lokpal debate..Where do you stand on the issue of ,say the inclusion of the Prime Minsiter on the Lokpal bill an issue which the govt clearly is not keen to discuss

JAYALALITHAA: I will enunciate my views very clearly, the proposed Lokpal bill should exclude the PM for the following reasons: the PM is already covered under the PCA, any misconduct by the PM can be investigated by the CBI. Sometimes the Lokpal could be used by foreign powers to destabilize the govt. But when a frivolous and politically motivated complaint against the PM is referred before the Lokpal and if the same is telecast by the TV channels which will run it around the clock, it would dent the PM's credibility and authority, even if nothing comes, it will seriously dent the authority of PM.

The Lokpal can investigate all allegations and therefore when the allegations are leveled against the PM, when a complaint is put before the Lokpal, he will be put on the defensive and will be occupied in defending himself. In such an event, how can the govt which is reliant on the PM work? The functioning of the Lokpal, inclusive of the PM will pave the way for a parallel govt which will undermine the authority of the PM. The state govt of Tamil Nadu hasn’t given its view, since no final draft has been arrived at. The Lokpal is much more than what is envisaged in the PCA . The state's view is that the Lokpal is much more than envisaged, the state's view can be formulated only after the final draft is given in the parliament. That is my view I have enunciated.

Ms Jayalalithaa was cautious in her response when asked her about her own role in national politics. TIMES NOW asked her directly if she would play a role at the national level, in response to that question, Ms Jayalalithaa did not rule out the possibility of her national role, saying that she had a vision for the country, but chose to underplay her ambition saying that her ambition was more for the country than for her personal self.

TIMES NOW: There are 2 ways in which politicians can be at the national level. Its inevitable that you will play a role at the national level...

JAYALALITHAA:That is your assessment

TIMES NOW: It has been the experience in the past

JAYALALITHAA: I take it as a compliment thank you very much

TIMES NOW: What about a national role? Is it impossible to conjecture that you will look for a larger role for your party and yourself at the national level? Please don't dodge the question.

JAYALALITHAA: I'm not trying to dodge your question, I will answer it in my own way. I take life as it comes, I never planned a career in politics for myself, I never had any prep for a career in politics I never thought I could be CM and I didn’t want to either, somehow I did, and I became CM not once, but 3 rimes. I have no national ambition for myself, I have ambition for India, I want India to be THE superpower in the world, it has the potential to be so for that it needs a string a patriotic leader at the helm of affairs, I have no personal ambitions, I go where my destiny takes me.

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