Rediff Navigator News


Capital Buzz

The Rediff Poll

Crystal Ball

Click Here

The Rediff Special


The Rediff Interview /H Hanumanthappa

'Narayanan should be made President'

When senior Congress leader H Hanumanthappa resigned last week as secretary-general of the SC/ST Forum of Parliamentarians, tongues started wagging. "It is Congress president Sitaram Kesri's doing," the political grapevine asserted.

But Hanumanthappa, who is also the Congress Parliamentary Party secretary, doesn't think so. Or if he does, he isn't telling. He spoke to Tara Shankar Sahay to put 'things in the correct perspective.' Excerpts from the conversation:

Can you outline the reasons for your resignation?

I am the person who moved a resolution in 1992 reminding the country it was Mahatma Gandhi's wish that a person belonging to the scheduled caste should occupy the President's post. Ram Vilas (Paswan) supported it and negotiations continued. Our campaign was partially successful and one from among our lot, K R Narayanan, became the vice-president in 1992.

Just as Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma became President from vice-president, it was thought that Narayanan too would move to Rashtrapati Bhavan.

But that was not to be. G Venkataswamy brought in a resolution demanding to 'qualify' the presidential candidate. He said besides belonging to the SC/ST , he should be a political sufferer and a freedom fighter. I did not agree. Venkataswamy says the resolution was drafted by me. This is not correct. A readymade resolution was given to me, I corrected something in it. I wanted to remove this condition but Venkataswamy did not agree. He remained adamant. Finally, when I saw that Venkataswamy was not ready to remove this condition, I resigned from the secretary-general's post.

I still hold the precedent of the vice-president becoming the President should be continued and Narayanan should move to Rashtrapati Bhavan.

So what do you think impelled Venkataswamy to lay down this condition of the presidential candidate also being a political sufferer?

That question should be best directed to him.

This condition is hindering Narayanan's movement towards Rashtrapati Bhavan. Would you say it is politically motivated?

What do you want me to say? I have already resigned.

What is your assessment about the feelings of the other Forum members regarding the condition?

I would say 99 per cent of them feel it is unjustified, that the precedent should be upheld and Narayanan should be made President.

So there are some who disagree with you.

I don't know whether they disagree with me, but a few in the Forum are being influenced by Venkataswamy.

Isn't 'political sufferer' a new term in the political vocabulary?

As far as I am concerned, political sufferer is a term used by bureaucrats while considering pension and other things.

Is the condition interjected by Venkataswamy in any way linked to Sitaram Kesri's reported desire to be President?

I am the wrong person to ask. You should ask him.

But isn't it a fact that Venkataswamy is acting on Kesri's behest?

The interpretation is wholly yours, not mine.

Let's talk about your party. What's happening in the Congress organisational elections?

The Congress is a movement by itself, it is a mass-based party. What you are seeing now (the organisation poll fever) is a natural thing. It happens in every party.

What about the allegations of Congress dissidents that Kesri is stopping at nothing to retain the party president's post?

These are allegations. The facts are different. But tell me, is it unnatural for anybody to try and retain the position he is holding? It is natural.

What do you say to Dr Jagannath Mishra's charge that Kesri is trying to pack his men among the Pradesh Congress Committee delegates who will eventually elect the party president?

How can the Congress president do such a thing sitting here in Delhi? What Dr Mishra is alleging is the spillover of Bihar politics here at the Centre. Somehow or the other, Bihar is always in the news. Bihar is an exception, it cannot be widened to the whole country.

What do you think about many Congress leaders's request to Sonia Gandhi to take over the Congress leadership?

Basically, it signifies the partymen's love and affection for the Nehru family. I don't have to repeat what happened to Indira Gandhi, Sanjay Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. You know the facts well. Barring Sanjay who died in a plane crash, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv sacrificed their lives for the country. So when the partymen want Sonia as the leader; they see the Nehru family in her. The people's attachment to the Nehru family continues even at the grassroots level.

Do you think Sonia Gandhi is capable of holding the post?

Right now, it is not on the agenda.

But isn't the demand for her taking over increasing day by day?

There are certain provisions in our party constitution and, if need be, they would not come in the way. But again, right now Sonia is a Congress member and the partymen are happy about it.

Tell us what you think of this interview

The Rediff Special

Home | News | Business | Cricket | Movies | Chat
Travel | Life/Style | Freedom | Infotech

Copyright 1997 Rediff On The Net
All rights reserved