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The Arun Jaitley Chat

'No party should have made Kargil an election issue'

Arun Jaitley, BJP spin doctor and Supreme Court lawyer, in full flow.

Mr Arun Jaitley (Wed Aug 25 1999 3:46 IST)
Hi! I am here. Sorry for the slight delay and shoot your questions.

Manoj (Wed Aug 25 1999 2:49 IST)
Hello Mr Jaitley, the Shiv Sainiks and BJP activists went on a rampage during a campaign in Bombay this week. Is that how one gets votes? The Shiv Sena has time and time again has embarrassed the BJP, yet you continue your partnership, why doesn't the BJP fight alone in Maharashtra?

Mr Arun Jaitley (Wed Aug 25 1999 3:48 IST)
Manoj: Your information with regard to any event in Maharashtra this week doesn't appear to be accurate. Regarding going alone in Maharashtra, we have to keep the ground realities in mind, the Shiv Sena and BJP vote is common. A division of this vote will gift Maharashtra to the Congress.

Asha (Wed Aug 25 1999 3:8 IST)
Mr Jaitley, is it ethical for the BJP to use the Kargil issue as an platform in the forthcoming election? I mean, it was the common man, the soldier who died for his soil not for any political party. So how can political parties try to gain mileage out of it?

Mr Arun Jaitley (Wed Aug 25 1999 3:50 IST)
Asha: Ideally the Kargil conflict is a national issue. No party should have made it an election issue. However, when the country was fighting a battle, the Congress party even during the period of army action started issuing a series of statements hampering the war effort. If the Congress party by trying to convert the Kargil victory into a defeat makes Kargil an election issue, the BJP is certainly entitled to a right of reply.

Gangadhar (Wed Aug 25 1999 3:13 IST)
Mr Jaitley, when will the BJP build the Ram temple or have you given up the idea?

Mr Arun Jaitley (Wed Aug 25 1999 3:52 IST)
Gangadhar: The Ram temple already exists in Ayodhya. There is only a question of a grand structure to be built there. Daily prayers are held at the Ram Janmasthan.

mogfromduseventythree (Wed Aug 25 1999 3:47 IST)
Ah-ha! Welcome sir! Tell me, Sir, never mind the politics, but why don't you become a judge?

Mr Arun Jaitley (Wed Aug 25 1999 3:53 IST)
mog+: I prefer only to be in the courts but frequent elections interrupt that. I am too deeply committed to a political ideology to be an unattached judge.

mogfromduseventythree (Wed Aug 25 1999 3:49 IST)
Sir, did you really paint the walls of the high court with some people who are on the other end of the political horizon nowadays, during the Emergency?

Mr Arun Jaitley (Wed Aug 25 1999 3:56 IST)
mog+: Perhaps you are mistaken. I was not a lawyer during the Emergency. I became one in 1977. Probably you don't remember that the day the Emergency was proclaimed, I was the first in the whole country who organised a protest on the 26th of June, 1975, in the Delhi University. This was the only protest against the Emergency on the first day. I spend the next 19 months in jail.

Jaspreet (Wed Aug 25 1999 3:49 IST)
Mr Jaitley, when do you predict a fallout between Amma and Madam happening?

Mr Arun Jaitley (Wed Aug 25 1999 3:57 IST)
Jaspreet: Napoleon used to say when the enemy wishes to commit suicide, don't disturb him. We are following that dictum.

Vinod (Wed Aug 25 1999 3:50 IST)
Mr Jaitley the nuclear doctrine is nothing but a political gimmick. Why does the BJP need to issue one just on the eve of the elections?

Mr Arun Jaitley (Wed Aug 25 1999 3:59 IST)
vinod: The nuclear doctrine is a draft proposal issued by the National Security Advisory Board, for a public debate and comments. Elections is the best time such issues must be debated.

siby (Wed Aug 25 1999 3:51 IST)
You have a great friendship with the Akalis. Yet the BJP refused to give even a seat to the Akalis in Delhi. Why?

siby (Wed Aug 25 1999 3:52 IST)
What have you done for the Sikhs in Delhi that the Sikhs should vote for you. Aren't the Sikhs still being harassed and neglected?

Mr Arun Jaitley (Wed Aug 25 1999 4:0 IST)
siby: The Akali Dal does not claim a Lok Sabha seat in Delhi. However, in the local elections, several Akali leaders contested for the local assembly and the municipal elections on BJP symbols on account of winnability prospects.

Mr Arun Jaitley (Wed Aug 25 1999 4:3 IST)
Siby: The post-1984 scenario witnessed the Congress party creating a wedge between the Sikh and the non-Sikh population of Delhi. It was the BJP which not only adopted a protectionist role during the Congress-sponsored 1984 massacre, and gradually brought the entire community back with a sense of confidence to the mainstream. It was the BJP in Delhi when voted to power that the process of punishment of the guilty men of 1984 commenced.

gautam (Wed Aug 25 1999 3:55 IST)
Sushma Swaraj asks votes in the name of Vajpayee, but her husband has pinned Vajpayee publicly. So what is Mr Swaraj Kaushal doing in Bellary?

Mr Arun Jaitley (Wed Aug 25 1999 4:9 IST)
Gautam: Swraj Kaushal is being a good husband! :)

Harish (Wed Aug 25 1999 3:56 IST)
Mr Jaitley, political parties have made a mockery of democracy, candidates are filing nominations while still in jail. One party proves how corrupt another one is, then they affiliate themselves to it, then they break up, then another political party affiliates itself to that party... i e Laloo, Jayalalitha. Can you please explain what's going on?

Mr Arun Jaitley (Wed Aug 25 1999 4:14 IST)
Harish: You are right! Corruption is one of the most serious issues in this elections. In the BJP, Mr Advani set a precedent that if there is a chargesheet filed against a person, he should not hold a public office. Eventually the chargesheet against Mr Advani was thrown out of the court but he still chose to suffer for two years. Jayalalitha withdrew support because she found the BJP unhelpful in the corruption cases against her. Please look at the alliance headed by the Congress party -- the Congress, Jayalalitha and Laloo. The only thing common between them is corruption cases against their leaders or their associates like Mr Quattorochi. The object of the alliance is how to beat the anti-corruption laws.

Kirti Varma (Wed Aug 25 1999 3:59 IST)
Mr Jaitley: Your appeal is an able PM and stable government. With the example we've seen in the last 13 months -- it's a far cry from stability. Don't you think you have a bad example to start with?

Mr Arun Jaitley (Wed Aug 25 1999 4:17 IST)
Kirti Varma: Instability was built into the results of the last general election. The balance of power was in the hands of a tainted politician who could bargain her corruption cases with the government. It is for the people of India to ensure that stability should be insured by voting such corrupt destabilisers out.

Preetha (Wed Aug 25 1999 4:6 IST)
Why is your party not able to win even a single seat in Kerala? Though the ABVP is immensely popular in colleges and schools, and almost every village has a RSS shakha?

Mr Arun Jaitley (Wed Aug 25 1999 4:21 IST)
preethi: The politics in Kerala is polarised between two strong fronts. The BJP has a popular base but for a third party to get electoral representation doesn't seem easy unless you become part of a front or are strong enough to replace one front. If the Congress and the Left get together at the Centre, who will be the alternative in Kerala? Politics abhors a vacuum, and that will be the occasion for the BJP to become an alternative in Kerala.

Khimani (Wed Aug 25 1999 4:18 IST)
Mr Jaitley: Do you think the Congress party will never be able to revive in UP & Bihar?

Mr Arun Jaitley (Wed Aug 25 1999 4:23 IST)
Khimani: Never say never in politics. There is never a last date in the political calendar.

SanjayK (Wed Aug 25 1999 4:17 IST)
Mr Jaitley: But what about the telecom scam. I believe Mr Vajpayee's foster son is involved in the nearly Rs 50,000 crores ghotala? Can you clarify? Also, why is Mr Jagmohan not in the news?

Mr Arun Jaitley (Wed Aug 25 1999 4:28 IST)
SanjayK: There is no telecom scam. There was a flawed policy for payment of license fees for private telecom operators. The policy failed. There was no revenue realisation. For the last two years, the country was planning to switch over to revenue sharing. Both the Congress and CPI-M supported revenue sharing. On March 26, 1999, the revenue-sharing policy was announced. Nobody opposed it. It is only when it was made applicable to existing operators that some parties decided to oppose. Bad politics overtook good economics.

There is no Rs 50,000 crores and no son-in-law involved. The object of a telecom policy should be to expand the telecom network and make services available to the consumers at cheap prices. By higher electricity or water tariffs, you may raise higher revenue but when the consumer pays this higher revenue, public interest doesn't benefit because people are entitled to this at cheaper rates. the object of a telecom policy is not to raise revenue alone, but to provide telephones at cheaper rates.

Do you know that in the license-fee regime, every consumer pays on a cellular telephone Rs 4 per minute only towards the license fee and the rest for operations costs. If private operations become more viable, the TRAI must ensure that incoming calls become free and the tariff rates for the consumer rates are reduced.

Rakesh (Wed Aug 25 1999 4:28 IST)
Mr Jaitley: Don't you think the Bofors gun saw the country's victory in the Kargil war? And still you crib about Mr Rajiv Gandhi. Don't you think that is bad on your part...

Mr Arun Jaitley (Wed Aug 25 1999 4:31 IST)
Rakesh: The issue is one of bribery. If a gun is purchased on the influence of bribery, the army will keep the gun but the bribe-taker must not go unpunished. If Einstein were born out of a rape, we'll still punish the rapist!

jetli (Wed Aug 25 1999 4:33 IST)
Mr Jaitley, you are a constitutional lawyer of some repute. What do you have to say about your party's campaign against Sonia Gandhi on her foreign birth?

Mr Arun Jaitley (Wed Aug 25 1999 4:34 IST)
jetli: Forget Sonia Gandhi for a minute. Just because she has been married into a family of repute. If any person were to 2/3 of his life a foreign national, and for 1/3 an Indian citizen merely on basis of marriage, would we agree to make him the chief of army staff? Or the chief justice of India? Or the head of our intelligence agencies? If the answer is no, which it should be, why should we follow a different yardstick for Sonia Gandhi, a person without political experience, merely because she got married into a privilege family. Neither politics nor constitutional law recognises a claim to be a prime minister on the basis of marriage into a privileged family.

Socialist (Wed Aug 25 1999 4:21 IST)
Mr Jaitley: How come you have sidelined us and are playing a big brother's attitude in our coalition?

Mr Arun Jaitley (Wed Aug 25 1999 4:37 IST)
Dear Socialist, in the last Parliament, the BJP had two-thirds the strength of the NDA. It conceded half the Cabinet posts to its allies. Even in this election, people feel that we have conceded too many seats to our allies. I think you should be pleased with our liberal attitudes.

Muslim (Wed Aug 25 1999 4:36 IST)
Mr Jaitley: Why does our community not trust your party? Do you think the hatred is deep and can never be bridged?

Mr Arun Jaitley (Wed Aug 25 1999 4:39 IST)
Muslim: Muslims in India are as much a citizen of India and entitled to the same rights, privileges and trust as any other Indian. Some of our pseudo-secularists friends have merely used them as instruments of political power -- a vote bank. They have never contributed to their economic and social development. Look at the 17 months of the BJP government, the communal riots so frequent in India have disappeared. This was positive secularism in action.

Mr Arun Jaitley (Wed Aug 25 1999 4:40 IST)
Thank you every one, and hope to see you again.

Arun Jaitley Chat, continued