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The Rediff Election Interview/Dr J K Jain
March 11, 2004
Dr J K Jain, owner of Jain TV and former stalwart of the Bharatiya Janata Party, joined the Congress party on March 10.
Dr Jain explained the reasons for his switchover in an exclusive interview with Chief Correspondent Tara Shankar Sahay at his office in New Delhi.
What compelled you to join the Congress, whose ideology is diametrically opposite to that of the Sangh Parivar with whom you had close ties?
This turn of events actually occurred three years ago when I was thrown out of the BJP. What were the reasons, under what circumstances my expulsion took place, is known to everybody. There was a conspiracy hatched against me, which was exposed.
I prayed to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee that what was being unleashed against me was the greatest abuse to a patriot for which he was responsible. I told him that if it was true that I was an Inter-Services Intelligence agent, I should be hanged. Otherwise, he should take back the allegation against me. He refused to do so.
The case was splashed across all the newspapers forcing me to approach the (Delhi) high court. The BJP people acknowledged defeat in court but since I had approached it, they expelled me from the party under the guise of indiscipline.
Was it duplicity at the highest levels of the Vajpayee government?
That is for you to interpret. I think I did what an honest person would have done under those circumstances.
Now that you have joined the Congress, surely your earlier moorings in the RSS must necessarily be shed?
This is a difficult question.
Why is it difficult?
Because human relations have many shades. Some are personal, some professional, some emotional and some political.
Your statement shows that while your personal relations with the Sangh Parivar could be cordial, you could be politically opposed to it?
When I was a BJP member in the Rajya Sabha, I maintained harmonious relations with all parties. It is the beauty of democracy that various political parties belonging to different school of thoughts thrive in a single country and have cordial relations with each other. Squabbling over petty matters is not the right way. We can stay friends despite having difference in political opinion.
But friendship cannot be one-sided. I cannot keep on pouring scorn and maintain inimical conduct against others and expect them to behave towards me in a civil manner. When a relationship is established, it is subject to both sweet and sour experiences. I may have numerous shortcomings and yet I can be loved by others. So can't I ignore others' shortcomings and have congenial relations with them? This is my thinking. This is how I have lived my entire life.
Could you say something about your roots?
I come from a village and a poor family. In my life's journey, I have met many twists and turns, met a lot of people, was disassociated with quite a few of them but I have never spoken against any of them.
That's fine, but your entry into the Congress pre-supposes that you jettison the ideology of your former party.
A few days back I wrote a book, The Manifesto. In it I wrote that I did not have any party's manifesto but it had the thoughts of an Indian. So I have documented my ideology, which essentially holds that even opposing schools of thought can have a meeting point. But I have come to the conclusion that the government under the leadership of the BJP is the greatest danger to our country.
It is like a drunken elephant that only a big and powerful party like the Congress can defeat and control. It is with this hope and expectation that I have joined the Congress through which we can humble these forces that are destroying our nation. We will fight and defeat them and bring to power a good government.
What transpired during your meeting with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi?
We discussed a lot of things in several meetings. We exchanged our views and I felt that I was in the presence of a strong and dynamic personality in the leadership of Soniaji. I felt her political thoughts were eminently suited for this nation. We felt that this government's deeds had to be exposed in the national interest. I think she liked what I said which is why she asked me to join her party. I hope she will make use of my abilities. Inshallah [God willing], something good will happen.
Since Jain Television was involved in the coverage of Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani's rath yatra in 1990, what do you feel about his latest yatra?
Everybody knows the rath yatra was for sending a message in which I contributed a lot at that juncture. I was involved in the implementation of the BJP's message (about the need to construct a Ram temple in Ayodhya). At that time, Advaniji said and we all agreed that the yatra is a media exercise. There are two things: one is media, the other is message. At that time, there was a message.
But today what is (the BJP's) message? I cannot find any message. That party is talking about Bharat Uday [India Shining], but how can the sun rise from the south [Kanyakumari, from where Advani began his yatra]. Whose rise is he [Advani] contemplating? It is clear that Advaniji's yatra does not aim at India shining. It has a different purpose.
What could that be?
Maybe the deputy is aspiring for the boss's chair.
You have once been close to Vajpayee and Advani, so why do you think the media speculates about undercurrents of rivalry between the PM and DPM?
I know a lot about this thing. I have been very close to both, I have been a doctor to both. But I won't be justified in disclosing it at this juncture.
What about your rivalry with Brajesh Mishra, the PM's principal secretary and national security advisor?
I have no rivalry with Mishraji. I was a member of the BJP Working Committee and I felt the undesirable occurrences within the PMO [Prime Minister's Office], which he headed, had to be stopped. I had raised them in a party forum. So a conspiracy was hatched against me and, contrary to established conventions, I was attacked from the side of the government.
And what was your response?
I gave Mishraji the signal that I had sufficient principles within me to take on all of them in the government, something that I did. That's why I said, "Yeh larai hai diye ki aur toofan ki" [This fight is between the oil lamp and the storm]. The entire might of the PMO could not extinguish an oil lamp.
What lesson did you learn?
The credit should not go to me. I learnt one thing emerged from that episode, which is Satyamev Jayate [truth will prevail]. The weak, if honest, cannot be defeated.
Would your television channel now help the Congress like it earlier did for the BJP?
There is often confusion between reality and image. This channel does not belong to me, it is a public limited company having shareholders. It will continue its pursuit of truthful and objective coverage. No media organisation has any ideology, all are professionals. If people today think the Jain TV is a Congress channel, I won't fight with them.
Advani photograph: Dibyangshu Sarkar/AFP/Getty Images | Image: Uttam Ghosh