|Jaya makes a dramatic offer to Congress|
11 Nov 2010, 1310 hrs IST
AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa speaks exclusively to TIMES NOW's Editor-in-Chief and makes a dramatic offer to the Congress by guaranteeing support of 18 MPs once they take action against 2G Spectrum scam embroiled Telecom Minister A Raja. The message from former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister indicated that the UPA government should not worry about DMK withdrawing support at the Centre if A Raja is dismissed, because her party is ready to offer her the numbers.
Excerpts from the interview:
Arnab Goswami: You have consistently raised the issue of A Raja and the 2G Spectrum scam. After the CAG report's findings have now come up in the public arena and with the opposition demanding immediate resignation of A Raja, where do you think the scam is headed to?
Jayalalithaa: As soon as the scam broke, which was more than two years ago, I was among one of the first leaders rather in the country to raise this issue in a big way. Over the past two-and-half years, I have been consistently issuing statements on the spectrum scam and the need to take action against the Union Telecommunications Minister Mr. A Raja and make him accountable for the great loss he has caused to the nation. There is nothing new in what I am saying today. Today, matters have reached such a stage that practically everyone in the country is talking about the spectrum scam. In the beginning, when the news first broke, most people did not understand what it was all about and it took sometime to make people understand the implications and the enormity of the corruption indulged in by Mr. Raja and the magnitude of the loss caused to the nation. But gradually the news began to percolate down to the market and today even a child will be able to speak about this scam. Even the common man in the street knows about the spectrum scam and it is not just me, not just political leaders, not just the media, but practically everyone in the country is asking why Raja has still not been dismissed from the Union Council of Ministers? Everyone is asking the same questions as to why the central government more particularly the prime minister has not been able to dismiss Raja and make him face prosecution for the crime against the nation.
Arnab Goswami: Why do you think Mr. A Raja has got such a long rope?
Jayalalithaa: The reason is very simple and obvious. It is coalition politics. Now to put it very plainly and bluntly, it is obvious that the Congress which heads the UPA coalition government at the Centre feels that any precipitated action against Raja will result in the DMK withdrawing its support to the union coalition government and the Congress obviously fears that its fragile coalition will collapse and this will lead to a mid-term poll. But things have reached at such a stage today where the clamour for action against Raja has reached the crescendo that further inaction or delay in taking action against him would permanently damage the credibility of the Congress and put a very big question mark on its future. Now, as a political leader I would like to say this, where the Congress is concerned, where there is a will there is a way. If the Congress is able to summon up the political will to act against Mr. Raja, I can show the way to the Congress so that the coalition does not collapse and the nation does not have to face another mid-term polls.
Arnab Gosawmi: Are you saying that if the Congress Party takes action against Mr. A Raja and there are political consequences to that, then the AIADMK will consider supporting the party and UPA government at the Centre?
Jayalalithaa: I am saying this on the presumption and the common perception that the hesitation of the Congress in taking action against Mr. Raja is because they fear that the coalition government will collapse. As I have said earlier there is no point in expecting Mr. Raja to resign on this own. He will not do that and there is no point in expecting the DMK leader Mr. Karunanidhi to step down. He will never do that. So what is the alternative.
If the Congress wants to save its credibility from further erosion, the Congress has to act swiftly to dismiss Raja from the union cabinet and what is holding the Congress back from doing it? Since the whole nation is aware of the corruption indulged by Mr. Raja, surely the Congress leadership knows very well what Mr. Raja has done. Every constitutional authority from the CAG to the SC has commended in dealing on the massive scam cause by Mr. Raja. So what is still holding back the Congress when it is facing embarrassment at the Parliament? Every time there is a session of the Parliament the same demand is repeated by all the opposition parties – dismiss Raja and take action against Raja. Today a stage has been reached where the Congress can no longer afford to ignore this demand. So what is holding the Congress back? – the fear that the coalition government might collapse.
So based on that presumption, what I am saying is that the DMK has 18 MPs at the Lok Sabha. The Congress does not wish to lose the support of those 18 MPs. But now the DMK's position has become untenable. Raja's position has become untenable. If the Congress wishes to avoid going in for a mid-term polls, the numbers have to be made up. We have 9 MPs in the Lok Sabha and between them other friendly parties have enough MPs to make up the 18 with one or two to spare.
Arnab Goswami: Will you seek any condition for your party MP's giving support to the Congress?
Jayalalithaa: That would be premature. There will be no conditions from my side. All I am interested in is seeing that probity is restored to public life. All that I am interested in seeing is that the perpetrator of such a massive scam is not allowed to go scot free simply because of the compulsion of coalition politics. Just imagine, the CAG has mentioned that Raja has caused a loss of Rs 176.379 crore to the nation. This is a mind-boggling figure. The common man would be hard put to figure out how many zeroes you have to add after this number. So this is a scam of a magnitude never before witnessed in this country. Perhaps unprecedented in the annuls of world history and it has now been revealed that Raja willfully disregarded the advice of the prime minister and the law minister, finance minister and just went ahead with what he felt right. So, is her going to allowed to get away with it? He should not be allowed to get away with it. He should be dismissed from the union cabinet and made to face prosecution. As citizen of the country, I am interested in seeing that the guilty are punished. That is all. There are no conditions from my side.
I would also like to add that if a mid-term poll becomes inevitable, my party is prepared to face it anytime.
Arnab Goswami: Who are these other like minded parties who will be actually willing to support the UPA?
Jayalalithaa: I do not think it would be appropriate to mention their names now. But rest assured I do not make idle claims. When I say I have 18 MPs ready to replace the 18 MPs of the DMK, I mean what I am saying.
Arnab Goswami: Do you think the PM's image will take a hit on the Raja issue?
Jayalalithaa: I think there have been court proceedings where Raja was castigated by the judges for having misused the prime minister's name. But till today Raja persists in saying that whatever he did was with the knowledge and consent of the prime minister. It is upto the PM to clear his own name and make it clear to the nation that he is not condoning Raja's crime against the nation and that the PM had no part to play in the massive scam. It is upto the PM that he mean to take action against Raja.
Arnab Goswami: What would you like to tell the Congress, who is sometimes red faced sometimes supportive?
Jayalalithaa: As far as the Congress party is concerned, they have shown that they are willing to take action against those in their own party who have caused embarrassment to the party like Mr. Tharoor, Mr Chavan, Suresh Kalmadi and some others. So it is not that the Congress would like to condone corruption. That is the message the Congress is trying to convey through the actions it has taken against persons like I have just mentioned. If the Congress really wishes to prove to the nation that it does not condone corruption, the Congress has to show that it is going to take action against Raja. I don't think that the Congress really wishes to support Raja. Maybe there was a stage in the beginning when it did appear that the Congress was trying to support Raja. But now it is becoming increasingly clear that the only reason the Congress is not taking action against Raja because of the compulsions of coalition politics. The numbers game. The Congress wants to ensure that it has the numbers to stay in power at the Centre. If there is any other reason for not taking action against Raja then I really don't know about it. But the delay in taking action against Raja is giving rise to all kinds of speculation which is not good for the image of the Congress.
Arnab Goswami: You have talked about alliance in the Centre, but don't you think the AIADMK is now ready to work with the Congress at the state level? Will u be willing for that?
Jayalalithaa: That is for the Congress to ponder over.
Arnab Goswami: Your equation with Sonia Gandhi has seen many ups and downs in the past. Politics is all about personal equations. How do you view the relationship over the years?
Jayalalithaa: My party is 38 years old. I personally am 28 years old in politics. When you have spent that much time in politics there are bound to be ups and downs and there is bound to be a past. But in politics if you keep harping on the past and keep looking back, you cannot move forward. It is part and parcel of politics that you forget whatever has happened in the past and move on to the future.
Arnab Goswami: What is the role that you see for yourself in the national arena? What are you aspirations in national politics and your role in the centre?
Jayalalithaa: Speaking at a personal level, the first task that lies before me is to win the assembly elections in Tamil Nadu that are due early next year. That is my first priority. We hope to win the elections next year and form the government in TN and give the state a strong and stable government. Strong states makes for a strong nation. As for a role at the Centre, only the future can answer that. But, I would like to tell you that today the security of the nation is causing concern to every right thinking citizen and every responsible political leader like myself. If at all I get to play a role at the Centre, my first priority would be to strengthen the nation's security. We cannot ignore the threat posed by China and other neighbours. Today, China has the best and most modern and well equipped army in the whole world. Are we really in a position to take on China's military might if the need arises? I think not. And I feel not enough attention is been made to providing our armed forces with the best equipment available in this world and with incentives to serve the country. I also think a greater percentage of the entire budget should be allocated to Defence. Defence spending should be stepped-up. I think our responses to provocation from China, from Pakistan are too mild. I can say this that China and Pakistan would not have been so arrogant and so emboldened if a person like Mrs. Indira Gandhi was the prime minister. Today, India is being increasingly perceived as a soft state which is not true. But such an impression is being created by the central government because of the lack of strong leadership at the Centre. So I am just a leader in the opposition today. I am the leader of opposition in the Tamil Nadu assembly. But I am an Indian citizen and am concerned about the country's security. Therefore, I earnestly appeal to the central government to pay more attention to strengthening our armed forces and strengthening our military might, step up our Defence expenditure and pay heed to the country's security before it is too late.
Arnab Goswami: What I understand that your focus is not only in politics in Chennai, but also its impact at the national level?
Jayalalithaa: I don't belong to just Tamil Nadu, I am also a citizen of India. My view and vision is always national.
Arnab Goswami: What if despite all this, despite the reports and what you have said -- What if the Congress still does not take action against A Raja?
Jayalalithaa: That is why I have called upon every right thinking citizen of India to send telegrams to the President demanding dismissal of Raja. If the government won't act, people have to step in. People of India cannot stand by and see the nation being looted by Raja. We expect the PM to dismiss Raja. If this does not happen, the people will have to resort to protests and demonstrations and I will lead from the front.
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