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    [2001 onwards]


'People were influenced by Shri
Modi's rhetoric'

New Delhi, December 15, 2002: Congress Member of Parliament Pawan Kumar Bansal discusses his party's rout in the Gujarat assembly election.

Pawan Kumar Bansal : Hello friends I am here. In democracy the will of the people prevails and we accept the verdict with humility. But certainly, it was wholly unexpected because a government that had failed to live up to and discharge its primary responsibilities was not ever expected to win so many seats.

MikiPatel : Can someone please tell me about Shankersinh himself? Did he win or lose?
Pawan Kumar Bansal : He did not contest. His son who contested the polls could not win.

Sammy : Do you agree, sir, that you accepted votes on the dead bodies of Sikhs and now you are objecting to Mr Modi doing the same?
Pawan Kumar Bansal : Congress did not capitalise on the unfortunate and heinous anti-Sikh riots. In fact, it was the BJP who wound up its own election offices those days. The appeal of the Congress has always been on secular and democratic lines. That is why the government in Punjab led by Sardar Beant Singh attained popularity.

Surya :  Where do you think the Congress went wrong here?
Pawan Kumar Bansal : Congress policies are clear and not dictated by short-term electoral gains. We have a bigger role to perform.

congresssucks : Don't you think Congress FAILED India for 40-45 years?
Pawan Kumar Bansal : No. The Congress party had a formidable task to perform in winning independence and then steering the country's ship during turbulent periods. All round development is a result of the governance provided and policies laid down by the Congress in a total democratic manner.

raman : Mr Pawan, you need to understand that you also need to criticise when events like Godhra take place.
Pawan Kumar Bansal : The gory event at Godhra deserved and was condemned by the Congress. That is a matter of record. But the post Godhra events were also a big slur on the face of our nation and society. Congress makes no distinction between any form of communal violence where lives of innocent people are lost.

ramss : Do you think Congress has no leaders other than the wife of Rajiv Gandhi
Pawan Kumar Bansal : Congress, the largest party in the country with the responsibility to run the affairs of 16 states, has appropriate and competent leadership at every level. Mrs Sonia Gandhi certainly is the president of the Indian National Congress and is leading the party admirably.

Pardhu : It's high-time the Congress learnt a lesson not to treat minorities as vote banks. What do you say???
Pawan Kumar Bansal : The Congress has never treated minorities as vote bank but as much a part of the society as anyone else. On the contrary, it is the BJP that has tried to whip up communal passions amongst the majority community with the aim of getting larger number of votes.

teomal : Was it a fight between Vaghela and Modi?
Pawan Kumar Bansal : It was not.

Velkur : According to you what were the primary responsibilities of the party in question?
Pawan Kumar Bansal : For BJP as the ruling party in Gujarat for the last 10 years it was its primary responsibility to raise the standard of living of the people by providing them basic necessities, which it miserably failed to do. It also failed to provide security to the people. Rather, its actions led to a communal divide, which is not auspicious for a pluralistic and a diverse nation as ours.

trueindian :  Who is your prime ministerial candidate for the coming general elections?
Pawan Kumar Bansal : This is not a relevant question at this juncture but certainly Mrs Sonia Gandhi as the leader of the Opposition is fully equipped to take on that mettle.

sanjiv : Do you think that Congress has peaked on its performance and its downslide has started with Gujarat
Pawan Kumar Bansal : No, there is no downslide for the Congress party. Gujarat is only an isolated case because of the sharp polarisation on communal lines as a result of Shri Modi's diatribes and his projection of the election as a contest between him and Musharraf.

krishnaprasad : Can you tell me why the Congress still believe in pseudo-secularism, appeasement of minorities, does not care for equal treatment of all Indians irrespective of their religion. When is Congress going to change its directions and policies???
Pawan Kumar Bansal : Congress is committed to secularism, not pseudo-secularism. On the contrary, it was Shri L K Advani's speech in Lok Sabha the other day that smacked on pseudo-secularism. Congress does not stand for appeasement of anyone but for equal respect for all religions. Religion is not the basis of determining a person's position or place in society. Sarv Dharam Sambhav is our age-old philosophy which the Congress respects and stands by.

ramvasanth : I agree with you about the secularist stand taken by the Congress right from the old ages. Due to this election results, will there be a change in the Congress stand on taking up secularism countrywide? Can you please give me an answer for this?
Pawan Kumar Bansal : Secularism for the Congress party is an article of faith. This will not change with a defeat in one election like the one in Gujarat. Just before these elections the people of Jammu had rejected the BJP lock, stock and barrel and only one candidate of theirs won with a slender margin of just 60 votes.

Surya : Do you agree with the 'soft-Hindutva' stand the Congress took? Did that affect the way they fought the battle?
Pawan Kumar Bansal : The Congress party did not take any such stand and its entire campaigning was based on good governance and betterment of the living standards of the people, besides revival of the shattered economy of the state.

ramvasanth : What could be the most important factor in the Congress leaders' defeat in Gujarat? Was there anything wrong in the strategy?
Pawan Kumar Bansal : Well, the people have perhaps been influenced by Shri Modi's rhetoric, which will ultimately do no good to the society as a whole. The strategy of the congress was not aimed on just winning an election but in consonance with its policies and programmes aimed for the good of the nation as a whole.

krishnaprasad : Mr Bansal, where is reply to my question? In the last four years as opposition party, what has the Congress suggested in terms of any policy statements towards the development of country instead of stalling Parliament for days and wasting crores of rupees of the taxpayer's money??? What are your policies for economy, security, defence, agriculture?? Do you have any policy at all???
Pawan Kumar Bansal : During the last four years it was for the first time in the history of Parliament that on occasions members of the ruling party stalled the proceedings of the House in order to get the house adjourned early and avoid meaningful debates. There are elaborate policy documents prepared by the Congress party on different issues and the same have been articulated in and outside the Parliament.

ramvasanth : Thank you Mr Pawan for your reply, hope the Congress will continue with its strategy and do good for the country.
Pawan Kumar Bansal : Thank you. Irrespective of the election results we would endeavour to realise our responsibilities and work for the welfare of the people.

Pawan Kumar Bansal : Thank you for chatting with me. My best wishes to all of you.

Shankersinh Vaghela: 'It is not fair to win over dead bodies'

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