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Home > India > News > Interview

The Rediff Interview/Senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj

'The government sends soft signals to terrorists'

May 13, 2008

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Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sushma Swaraj claims that she has no personal ambition and takes everything in her stride.

"I view everything in the context of Lord Krishna's will and for me it is fine if things go in my favour or against," she told Senior Associate Editor (National Affairs) Onkar Singh at her 8, Safdarjung Lane home.

Swaraj lashed out at the Congress party for taking credit for introducing the long pending Women's Reservation Bill. Confident of forming the next government in Karnataka, she is equally convinced that L K Advani will become prime minister after next year's general election.

How do you view the attack in Jammu on May 11 in which two terrorists and six others were killed?

Such incidents take place when the Government of India sends soft signals to terrorists. Ever since the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government has come to power, barring making statements here and there that their government is committed to fighting terrorism, it is not being said in actions.

We had enacted POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act) to deal with terrorists and they scrapped that as well. What signal they have sent is obvious to everyone. Such incidents are nothing new. These kind of incidents take place every day.

When Pakistani rangers fired at the border Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh [Images] said we need to be vigilant.

I have just said that the government is resorting to lip service. Dr Singh is speaking the language of the Opposition by saying that we need to be vigilant. Those who rule do not speak this kind of language, they simply do it. The government is sending a soft signal, whether it is sent to terrorists or those supporting them within the country or the Naxals operating in various states.

By introducing the Women's Reservation Bill, the UPA has claimed credit.

Let me tell you this is not an issue of taking credit for introduction of the Bill. If it were so, then on two different occasions, the BJP introduced the Bill in Parliament. (Then prime minister H D) Deve Gowda introduced the Bill and once (then prime minister) I K Gujral put it up for consideration.

It is not a issue for taking credit. It is a question of empowerment of women and giving them what they have been denied. Yes, the credit would go to that party which gets the Bill passed.

The Bill has been introduced thrice. They ( the UPA government) have merely saved their nose. Credit for what? It is part of their Common Minimum Programme. Whenever we came to power we would have introduced the Bill. Nobody had to tell us that this Bill should be introduced. We held a series of meetings to arrive at some sort of understanding with those who were opposed to it.

The UPA government pleaded with Laluji (Railways Minister Lalu Yadav) that they should let the Bill be introduced. He agreed but made it clear that he would not let the Bill go through.

Why is Lalu Yadav opposed to the Bill?

He said that is quota within quota. At least, that is what he told us. Their main contention is that if the seats are reserved by a computer, then one does not know which leader would have to look for an alternative. All men do not win their seats. If you do not give a chance to women, then how can they win?

It is very well to talk about reservations, but when it comes to the distribution of ticket at election time, then women candidates do not get even 10 per cent tickets.

I agree with you, but once the Bill is passed and implemented, then this disparity would also go.

Former Lok Sabha Speaker P A Sangma has said the Congress and BJP should join hands to run the country.

He may have said this in good humour, but this is not practical because there is lot of difference between the ideology of the Congress and BJP.

You once contested the Bellary Lok Sabha election against Sonia Gandhi [Images]. What was your motive?

The motive was to prove that she as foreigner could not hold the office of prime minister of India, particularly when India had got rid of the British only 60 years ago.

She could be president of a political party and we have nothing against her. We welcome her as a daughter-in-law of India because of her marriage with Mr Rajiv Gandhi.

Your party is locked in a battle against the Congress party in Karnataka.

We have no doubt that we are going to win the election. The Congress has been losing state after state including the ones it ruled while we recaptured power in states like Gujarat.

The Congress has not won even a single state. The party's performance has been dismal. Its main focus is on signing the nuclear deal.

Coming back to reservations for women some male politicians including some from your party feel that its implementation means signing a suicide note.

This is certainly one viewpoint because they feel reservation of seats should be left to them because if it is done by a lottery then every third seat would be reserved. There may be a few individuals in our party as well who feel like this, but once the party takes a decision then everyone has to go along with the view of the party.

The BJP is certainly for empowerment of women. It wants reservation of 33 per cent seats for women. I would like to clarify that unless you nominate women candidates and send them to contest elections, then how are you going to decide whether or not they are capable of winning elections? They cannot sit at home and win elections.

What is Sushma Swaraj's ambition?

Sushma Swaraj has no personal ambition. I take things in my stride. In Sikhism you have the moolmantra -- tera bhana meeta lage. I have my own moolmantra. If things happen for the good, I say that Lord Krishna wished it so and if anything goes against me, even then I say Lord Krishna wanted it to happen that way.

So I have no personal ambition.

Do you want to rotate the BJP presidency between men and women?

I do not know from where such things crop up. A journalist asked me whether I would like to rotate the party presidency and I said no. (BJP President) Rajnath Singhji has lent strong support to women's reservations not only in Parliament and legislatures, but also within the party. So why should we raise this issue?

Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

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