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'While nobody was opening their mouths in other parties,
mouths were wide open in the Congress'

P V Narasimha Rao Why was this?

I knew there would be criticism of me, not only from outside the party, but also from within. And I expected some of this criticism to be extra harsh.

People would say that I kept appealing because I had a weak case and was taking refuge in technical matters.

So, when the latest summons came, I made up my mind to resign.

Was it a decision made on the spur of the moment?

I had been thinking about it for a long time. But I took the final decision after the last judgment.

It had come in a way that I thought that it would affect the image of the office of Congress president if I pursued the legal options while remaining president of the party.

You see, the Congress president's post is different from others. It used to be called rashtrapati in the old days. There is just one in the whole country. I felt it was important to maintain the image of that office regardless of whether or not I thought there was a case against me.

Do you believe that it would have compromised the dignity of the office?

Well, leaders in other parties do not think so. Mr Advani feels he can continue as president of the BJP despite the chargesheets. And several others in other parties have taken similar positions.

But in my case, there were two other factors. Firstly, I did not consider it proper for me to continue and was unhappy with the precedent it would set.

Secondly, in other parties, those leaders who felt that they had been falsely accused were not under harsh criticism from their own party members.

While nobody was opening their mouths in the other parties, mouths were wide open in the Congress. But that is the way it is in the Congress. Everything is open. Nothing is done quietly or in secret.

It is done on the front page of newspapers.

Yes, that's right (laughs). Our troubles are very useful in sustaining you people in the press.

Did your astrologers predict you would step down?

I do not attach too much importance to what astrologers say. In my case, they have never been right. Perhaps, my birth date is inaccurate (laughs).

Nobody predicted I would be prime minister. Why prime minister? Nobody even predicted I would be chief minister.

Why then did you leave it to your astrologer Raghavendra Rao to negotiate the alliance with Jayalalitha?

I have seen your interview where she says this. But it is factually incorrect. I never sent Raghvendra Rao to her. He never represented me.

Who negotiated the alliance?

I did. We both did. She and I spoke on the phone and decided to renew the alliance which she had earlier, unilaterally declared, was over.

It was done at our level. There were no intermediaries and no middlemen.

Did you expect the Congress to fare so poorly at the last elections?

No I did not.

To what factors would you attribute the Congress's poor performance?

P V Narasimha Rao I think this question has a long answer which has been given by many political commentators, party activists, intellectuals and observers.

In a nutshell, the reasons were both internal and external. So far as I am concerned, the real answer has to come from the voter himself on herself. I have asked many of my workers to find out from the 'master' himself, but this exercise has not been completed.

At some point, I propose to participate in this very absorbing exercise myself, if only to see how near or how far removed the leaders are from understanding the 'master's mind.'

The decision to ally with the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu led first, to a revolt in the party and then, to an electoral debacle. Do you regret that decision? Or do you think that given the situation that prevailed in the pre-election period, it was a valid decision?

Political parties have to think in terms of options or alternatives. The CWC, I think, had no viable alternative to what it decided to do. There could, of course, be difference of opinion on this. So be it.

How much damage did hawala do to the Congress? Could this have been avoided?

Damage was done. It could not be avoided, in my view.


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