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The Venkaiah Naidu Chat

Mr Venkaiah Naidu (Fri Mar 27 1998 7:55 IST)
Namaskar! I am here to answer here to answer you queries on the eve of the vote of confidence tabled by Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the Lok Sabha today.
Radha Menon (Fri Mar 27 1998 7:29 IST)
Dear Mr Naidu: Will Mr Vajpayee win the vote of confidence? But how long will your government last given the shaky nature of coalition you have cobbled up?

Mr Venkaiah Naidu (Fri Mar 27 1998 7:58 IST)
Radha:I am totally confident that we would secure the mandate of the House, though the margin is very thin. Given the political realignment that is taking place in the government I don't think that there is any problem with the stability of the government. Particularly the alliance which we have forged is a pre-poll alliance and the people have given the mandate for a government led by Shri Vajpayee. Public opinion, the leadership of Shri Vajpayee, the commitment of the alliance partners to work under his leadership -- all these will allow us to complete the term and to implement the national agenda agreed upon by all the alliance partners.

Oliver Hahn (Fri Mar 27 1998 7:34 IST)
Mr Naidu: Are the 120-million strong Muslims in India safe under your Hindu government?

Mr Venkaiah Naidu (Fri Mar 27 1998 8:4 IST)
Oliver: There is nothing to worry. The BJP is committed to the Sarvadharmasamabhavana, equal respect to all religions. The State will not interfere or discriminate against any religion. We will not discriminate against any religion. We are against a theocratic state. Our track record in the states ruled by the BJP and its allies number around 6 -- Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Delhi... There is no discrimination on the basis of religion. There are no such complaints, there is peace and the minorities are also happy. That is the reson for considerable number of Muslims voting for the BJP in the just concluded election. The word Hindu is being misinterpreted, misunderstood. The real meaning of the word Hindu is the cultural identity of the nation. The name of Hindustan was used by Shri Mahatma Gandhi. This name was not given by Vajpayee or Advani. Hindu is not a narrow religious concept. On the eve of Republic Day the prime minister says Jai Hind. That does not mean Jai for Hindus and Nai for Muslims.

ScamIam (Fri Mar 27 1998 7:58 IST)
Namaskaram Naidu Garu, how are you? What is Sukh Ram doing in your camp? Do you need some technology from him, "How to steal a Million"?

Mr Venkaiah Naidu (Fri Mar 27 1998 8:6 IST)
Scamiam: It is a good question. Mr Sukh Ram is not taken into the Union Cabinet. We have not absolved him of the charges. In the given situation in Himachal Pradesh he got elected to the legislative assembly because of the peculiar situation there. His party and the BJP joined together to prevent the Congress from hijacking the mandate of the people. I can assure you that the law will take its own course and there won't be any interference from our side. On the other hand we would take all the steps that are need to take the cases to their logical conclusion.

Shyama (Fri Mar 27 1998 8:6 IST)
Mr Naidu: I believe you and Ramoji Rao worked together to win over Mr Chandrababu Naidu. is this true? Are you also a kamma like Babu?

Mr Venkaiah Naidu (Fri Mar 27 1998 8:10 IST)
Shyama: See, Ramoji Rao did not interfere in political matters. He is a wellwisher of the non-Congress parties, but he will not take political sides. Secondly, the stand of the Telugu Desam is decided by that party, not at the behest of anybody. And with regard to the personal question you have asked, the BJP doesn't believe in casteism. We don't go by caste. So far I have not attended any caste conferences. It is accidental that we both belong to the same caste. There is one thing in common -- both of us belong to anti-Congress parties and are victims of Congress politics. The time has come for Indian political parties and people to rethink, reposition and realign in view of the people's mandate in order to prevent the corrupt Congress which has ruled and ruined the country.

Mohan (Fri Mar 27 1998 8:8 IST)
Mr Venkaiah Naidu, My name is Mohan from Germany. I am a staunch BJP supporter from the past 15 years. But I have a few grievances about the BJP in the recent 1-2 years ? Can I air them?

Mr Venkaiah Naidu (Fri Mar 27 1998 8:12 IST)
Mohan: Please go ahead!

jos (Fri Mar 27 1998 8:9 IST)
Do you think the BJP holds water to be a good government without losing its Hindutva flavour?

Mr Venkaiah Naidu (Fri Mar 27 1998 8:14 IST)
Jos: Hindutva is a way of life. It is not a religious concept, it is our culture, our heritage, our value systems and the BJP, I am confident, will never compromise on basics. We are not an ordinary political party. We have a political mission. Atalji could reach this position after a tapasya of 50 years in public life. I am confident that we could provide a good government without compromising on our basic philosophy.

Mohan (Fri Mar 27 1998 8:13 IST)
My grievances for the BJP in the past 1-2 years are as follows:

a. Why did you join Mayawati last year? You knew that they would use you as a ladder to power.

b. Irrespective of the Opposition behaviour, your MLAs should not have behaved that way in UP and the attitude of your Speaker so blatantly biased? [Believe me I am still staunch BJP]

c. Why do you need to succumb to Jayalalitha just for power? [You are a party with Very Strong ideals and you must get power due to that.]

d. I am very depressed that you have left out the Ram Mandir, Article 370 and the Common Civil Code in your National Agenda? [It is because of these very issues that I have been your staunch supporter for 15 years]

e. Lastly, the Sukh Ram issue Please clarify.

Mr Venkaiah Naidu (Fri Mar 27 1998 8:25 IST)
Mohan: Some of the problems are because of the environment and unless there is a level playing field you will not be able to prove that you are a party with a difference. In UP we made an honest experiment not for political power but to prevent criminal casteist Mulayam from governing the state through the back door --- i e through the governor.

We thought that the BJP and BSP coming together would ease social tensions and would develop social harmony and strengthen the cause of Hindutva, but Mayawati was power hungry, opportunistic and after enjoying power for 6 months she betrayed us and got exposed. That is why they lost this Parliament election miserably. Their own leader was defeated. And the BJP stand is upheld by the weaker sections of the society through out the country.

What happened in UP is an aberration. There Governor Romesh Bhandari acted as a political agent for the Congress and Mulayam flouted the rules. The BJP has taken recourse to Apaat Dharma for change. We have played the role of Arjuna instead of Abhimanyu to defeat the evil designs of the Congress and Mulayam. This is not going to be repeated. You must appreciate that in politics there are no runners-up, but just winners.

Coming to Article 370, uniform civil code, Ram Mandir, we have not given up any of these issues. They are very much part of the BJP agenda, they will continue to be on the agenda but when the people didn't give a full mandate and when we have to share power with others and take their support you have to work on consensus and priority on such issues where there is broad agreement. On issues where there is no agreement you have to wait for some time. On the party level we will be educating the people and continue to convince the people to get a full mandate.

If you don't accept even after getting 260 seats then people would say that you can't rule and you are incapable of ruling. Moreover if you allow the Congress to come through the back door they would totally ruin the country. They have already destroyed democratic institutions, devalued public life, corrupted the system.

So take the opportunity, pursue your policies, deliver good governance, solve the basic issues like drinking water, health, roads, education, housing and continue to campaign from the party platforms on the issues which are dear to us to get a better mandate. Don't worry we are not going to give up anything. These things should wait for some time.

Vijay (Fri Mar 27 1998 8:21 IST)
Mr Naidu: Could you please give me one reason why Mr Advani was given the home ministry?

Mr Venkaiah Naidu (Fri Mar 27 1998 8:28 IST)
Vijay: Home is an important portfolio, deals with the security of the country and the people and Shri Advani is the most deserving person for the portfolio. He has got a strong will, better understanding of the situation and all the needed qualities. And he knows every inch of Indian public life. And if need arises he can take strong decisions like the first home minister of India, Shri Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

Kalyan (Fri Mar 27 1998 8:27 IST)
Can someone please tell me what's going on with the confidence motion?

Mr Venkaiah Naidu (Fri Mar 27 1998 8:30 IST)
Kalyan: It is a very good question. Discussion on the confidence motion is going on. This will continue tonight and tomorrow. The voting will take place at 4 pm tomorrow. And I am confident that at 5 pm you will hear that Shri Vajpayee has secured the confidence of the House.

Venkat (Fri Mar 27 1998 8:30 IST)
Dear Venkaiah Naiduji, Good Evening. Congratulations for being an MP. In the Union Cabinet, Andhra has not been given due representation. I also read in the newspapers that Chandra Babu is demanding an alliance with the BJP during the local polls in exchange of support at the Centre. And that he is demanding the BJP play the role of junior partner.

But the BJP is growing like anything in AP. I think in a couple of years it will reach a position like that of Karnataka. So if you allign with the TDP at this point, it will benefit the TDP and the Congress. Because those who are opposed to the TDP will naturally vote for the Congress. In the end, the BJP will retain its true workers only.

Mr Venkaiah Naidu (Fri Mar 27 1998 8:34 IST)
Venkat: Thank for your wishes. Andhra is given a minister of state position initially. In course of expansion I am confident Andhra will get due representation. You should understand and appreciate that we have to take 13 parties with us and there are states where we have got more than 57 MPs.

It is not true to say that Chandrababu is insisting that the BJP should play the role of the junior partner. Things have not come to that stage. Even if it comes to that stage I feel that the stability of the central government and the survival of the Vajpayee government is more important. So that major challenges in the economy are addressed and a qualitiative change is brought in in the governance. And if the BJP and the TDP come together the Congress can easily be defeated. Because at the national level a sharp polarisation is taking place with the BJP on one side and the Congress on the other side.

ravi (Fri Mar 27 1998 8:29 IST)
What is your view of the TDP now? You did oppose them vigorously in AP. Now how can you accept their support?

Mr Venkaiah Naidu (Fri Mar 27 1998 8:38 IST)
Ravi: It is a fact that we criticised the TDP strongly for two reasons: One, that the TDP led by Chandrababu abandoned the path of N T Rama Rao and became soft on the Congress. Second, because he abandoned some of the pro-poor schemes. The Congress today is our major rival at the Centre today and the biggest danger to our country.

The TDP has realised that going with the Congress earlier was disastrous to them. Hence rethinking has started. The BJP is willing to take the support of a regional party because that party is basically a non-Congress party. It would be a natural reunion if we come together as earlier we have worked together against the Congress. We have already given a call to all the parties to re-think, re-position and re-align and the alignment has just started.

ScamIam (Fri Mar 27 1998 8:36 IST)
Mr Naidu let's get to the nitty gritty? Can You quantify and tells us what you will be doing in the next 6 months, 1 year, with respect to the economy, inflation and sanitation to the people in India. No ideological statement, just figures please.

Mr Venkaiah Naidu (Fri Mar 27 1998 8:43 IST)
ScamIam: For the coming 6 months, top on the agenda would be first of all providing security to the people, taking stringent measures against terrorism, ending the bomb and AK-47 culture in India. Allocation of 60 per cent of Plan funds to the rural agricultural sector. 33% reservations for women in Parliament and assemblies. Declaration of assets and liabilities of the ministers. Passing the Lok Pal Bill to enquire into the corruption charges against ministers including the prime minister. Time-bound enquiries into all the scams and the scandals that have taken place in the last five years. Giving freedom to the CBI to act without fear or favour. Providing free education to women up to post graduation including professional courses. Crop insurance schemes for the farmers. These are all my priorities. Once the confidence vote is secured, the government will start working. We will also simultaneously expedite the much awaited electoral reforms to end the money and muscle power in elections.

PNA (Fri Mar 27 1998 8:41 IST)
Mr.Naidu>> Is the TDP going to vote for the BJP or abstain...

Mr Venkaiah Naidu (Fri Mar 27 1998 8:45 IST)
PNA: You must ask this question to the other Naidu. My information is that he will not do anything which will strengthen the Congress and weaken the BJP. I am hoping for a positive response from the TDP.

dhruvk (Fri Mar 27 1998 8:40 IST)
There are so many resourses to tap inside and outside the country. Why not have someone or a group who could co-ordinate these efforts for the benefit of the common man????

Mr Venkaiah Naidu (Fri Mar 27 1998 8:46 IST)
Dhruvak: The BJP will make every effort to tap the resources both within and outside for the common good of the country. We will see in the coming six months an altogether different approach from the BJP and its allies which would be totally different from the earlier governments. Schemes would be initiated to improve the facilities of the common man.

Kalyan (Fri Mar 27 1998 8:34 IST)
Is anti-incumbency so strong that it totally blindens the electorate? How corrupt must someone get "NOT" to be elected ? (With Amma in focus)

Mr Venkaiah Naidu (Fri Mar 27 1998 8:50 IST)
Kalyan: Unfortunately the people in India are more influenced by the immediate local factors, personalities, emotions rather than by basic issues. The reason is simple lack of education, lack of political education, misinformation or disinformation campaigns against certain parties, caste, religion and sympathy factors. And frequent elections also confuse people. After waiting for 50 years people have lost the patience; they want quick results, hence anti-incumbency factor sometimes.

Das (Fri Mar 27 1998 8:50 IST)
Mr Naidu, Don't you think that giving "special packages" to Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, etc in return for the allies' support during confidence is basically a bribe? How can a central government even think of favouring one state over another?

Mr Venkaiah Naidu (Fri Mar 27 1998 8:53 IST)
Das: NO special package is neither asked nor given to any of the states for the sake of political support. Certain genuine grievances of the states which have been pending for years have been put before the leadership. The BJP would like to have strong states and a strong Centre. That is why Shri Vajpayee said that he would provide special attention to all the states. This is not a question of favouring one state and neglecting another. It would be our endeavour to rectify the imbalances. We try to understand the regional aspirations of various regions. I don't feel that there is anything wrong in it. Certain parties asked for separate states. We did not concede. Certain people asked for particular posts, we didn't oblige...

rama (Fri Mar 27 1998 8:53 IST)
How come Sushma Swaraj in her 13 day role as I&B minister was more concerned about newsreaders's clothes and modesty than about Prasar Bharati and other important issues? Why does the BJP not manage its brand better? I'm willing to bet that if you paid more attention to that, there would be a whole lot more support for you in the country. Why don't you do an image poll and see how many people are just waiting for a respectable face of the BJP that they can support, without qualms?

Mr Venkaiah Naidu (Fri Mar 27 1998 8:58 IST)
Rama: What Sushmaji was aiming at was that Doordarshan as the official media should project Indian culture. She didn't prescribe any dress code. Prasar Bharati has become a Prachar Bharati of the ruling party earlier. We are going to make Prasar Bharati more accountable to the people. The image of the BJP is wrongly propagated by others and the governance in the coming days will dispel all the misgivings and the true face of the BJP will emerge. Please appreciate that we are frank. We don't want a cultural invasion in India. If you look at my manifesto and my priorities you will find more and more social issues, the basic issues. We want to make India self suffcient, we want to give a transparent government on mutual trust. It will take some more time for all of you to understand the real face and the ideology and the programme of the BJP.

rama (Fri Mar 27 1998 8:58 IST)
Why does the BJP let George Fernandes get away with his sabre rattling about MNCs? Isn't there a way to keep that man under control? Does Yashwant Sinha have good economic advisers who understand the confluence of globalisation and swaraj, and can make it happen? who are they?

Mr Venkaiah Naidu (Fri Mar 27 1998 9:2 IST)
Rama: The BJP and its minister Yashwant Sinha have got a definite understanding of the economy of the country and the economic challenges and the need for economic nationalism. There is no need for advisers; the party is full of experienced people who have got a better understanding of the economy, both internal and external. We have enough competent bureaycrats. Shri George Fernandes also did not attack MNCs. He only said that Indian industry needs protection for sometime but that MNCs can come and invest, but not in the consumer sector.

Mohan (Fri Mar 27 1998 9:0 IST)
Naidu Garu, You have not answered my question on the BJP's stand on the Cauvery and Almatti.

Mr Venkaiah Naidu (Fri Mar 27 1998 9:6 IST)
Mohan: The Cauvery and Almatti are inter-state disputes.You can't give a one-line reply to this. These disputes should be settled by discussions under the supervision of the central government. We are not guided by political considerations in taking stands in river water and border disputes. We believe that India is one. We will take a decision after discussing the matter. We would come to some conclusion or refer the matter to the tribunals and abide by their verdict.

Mr Venkaiah Naidu (Fri Mar 27 1998 9:9 IST)
The BJP, I am confident, will prove its majority without any problem, but you must appreciate that it is a delicate situation. We have to run the government on the basis of consensus because the choice is either a Vajpayee-led government or going back to the voter, People will not appreciate if we go back to them immediately.

Friends, the BJP is a party which is being misunderstood because of a adverse, systematic campaign against us all these years, but I am happy that you judge us by our performance and not by propaganda.

We have just come to power. Give us sometime. We will deliver the goods. We have men of proven integrity, great calibre, rich experience who can take the country to great heights to make it strong. Thank You and we will meet again.

Venkaiah Naidu Chat, continued