The Congress party has been continuously attacking the Narendra Modi government over the Rafale deal. Now, just six-month before the Lok Sabha elections 2019, the grand old party has one more ammunition to fire at PM Modi – the ouster of CBI chief Alok Verma.
To talk about these and many more topics, journalist Anurag Sason has an in-depth conversation with veteran Congress leader Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi.
Here are important excerpts from the exclusive interview: (Scroll down to watch the complete interview)
Q1) Despite Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s assurance that there is nothing wrong in the Rafale deal, the Congress party has been continuously attacking the Modi government. Why?
Abhishek Manu Singhvi: We have this issue from about a year and nobody can say that we have received a reply or the real reason or actual response, except diversion, digression, confusion and spin doctrine.
Have you been told any figure? All over the world, other countries which have purchased Rafale, have done it at prices far lower than the new contract.
The defence minister said that “we have bought a fully loaded aircraft”.
The aircraft which we were buying was not a toy plane. It was not for flying from Delhi to Mumbai. It was also a full fighter aircraft.
Government is not disclosing the deal. It is saying that it is not in the interest of national security. We are not asking for national security data, we are asking for price data.
Q2) What you have to say on this entire CBI chief ouster episode?
Abhishek Manu Singhvi: It is the most sordid saga, it is a can of worms, it is unprecedented in Indian history and it shows the decimation of institutions.
The government has destroyed multiple institutions-Election Commission, CVC and CBI.
Under the CBI Act, CBI director has a special protected tenure. He cannot be removed at will, he cannot be sent before two years. He cannot be appointed except by a selection committee and he cannot be transferred except by a selection committee.
Point number two, when you have such a clear, specially protected tenure for him (CBI director), then how do you equate him with number two (Rakesh Asthana). Number two is only an executive appointee. He has no similar protection of tenure.
So, you created a fraudulent equivalence. All the allegations, from inception, are against number two. The allegations are raised when he was appointed. You overruled and appointed him. So that you can actually help him, you said that we will remove both.
Q3) Why Congress party is linking Alok Verma’s ouster with Rafale deal?
Abhishek Manu Singhvi: We are not linking. We are saying that one of the clear indications of the government’s panic appears to be this. Clearly, the government is trying to hide (facts).
Q4) Assembly elections will going to take place in five states. In Mizoram, the Congress party is already ruling. Do you think that the party will be able to retain power in Mizoram and at the same time come back in power in the other states?
Abhishek Manu Singhvi: See, we don’t have any doubts that in the upcoming state elections we will come out with flying colours. In all the three major states BJP will not be able to retain power.
In north-east also we will retain power.
Q5) Is the party planning to announce the names of CM candidates in three major states?
Abhishek Manu Singhvi: Congress party has a very consistent policy that generally we do not announce the names of CM candidates. We have a few exceptions but those are pre-decided.
Q6) What are your predictions for Lok Sabha elections 2019?
Abhishek Manu Singhvi: Let me tell you that the BJP got 31-32 per cent of the votes at the highest, peak. That means it lost 69 per cent of the votes. So, if we are able to prevent vote division and achieve vote consolidation and if we get even 55 per cent of the votes, we are through.
Q7) Do you think that today’s political situation is much more like the one in 2004, when no party got a clear majority?
Abhishek Manu Singhvi: Well there are lots of differences but I will say one thing. Yes, there was anger and India was not shining in 2004, but at the end of the day, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government was relatively far more benevolent, inclusive and sensitive. Today, there is no comparison. There is fear in the country, there is anger in the country.
People are not free. You sometimes have this whole drama of cow vigilantism, sometimes you have this huge job issue and sometimes you have clear crony capitalism going under your nose. So, I think people’s anger is much more than in 2004 which is the real difference.
WATCH FULL INTERVIEW:
Monday Talk: Ouster of CBI chief most sordid saga, says Abhishek Singhvi to Anurag Sason
About the author: Author is Deputy Editor in India TV and tweets at@AnuragSason
The interview is taken in the personal capacity and is exclusively for this website.