Shinde on power crisis: I'm a minister, not a technician
Newly appointed Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde was rewarded with the plum post on a day when the country faced its worst power crisis. Not ready to take the responsibility for the failure of three grids he rates himself as a successful power minister in an exclusive interview with CNN-IBN's editor-in-chief Rajdeep Sardesai. The excerpts:
On the timing of becoming home minister:
The failure of the power grid happened on two occasions the day before (Monday) and yesterday (Tuesday). This happened because some states overdrew power, which I have already explained. This led to a problem in connectivity. You must appreciate, the way in which our officers from the power grid and dispatch load centers have worked and brought the situation in control within five to six hours.
On accountability for power grid failure and promotion as home minister:
I have already appointed a three-man committee under the chairmanship of the central electricity authority. There was a similar grid failure in America in 2003 and they took four days to correct. They took assistance from my power grid officials, chairman.
The report on the power failure in India will come within 15 days and action will be taken. Meanwhile, we have already warned states that they should not draw more power than the given limit otherwise penalty will be levied.
When I met journalists at 6.30 pm (on Tuesday) more than 85 per cent power was restored. After two hours, more than 90 per cent was restored.
You journalists hold the minister accountable. But the minister is not the technical person. We have set up an enquiry committee and they will find out who was at fault.
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Image: Sushilkumar Shinde
'I was a successful power minister'
On lack of political will to take action:
If you go through the records you will see that last year we took action against the Uttar Pradesh government. We have penalised them and have cut power from their regular quota also. But, UP is not the only violat#8744 many other states have also violated rules.
On underperformance as power minister:
There is a shortage of power and we work under the leadership of the prime minister. He is bound give us a snub if we are not working. Yes, the PM had written to me last year.
Power is on the concurrent list. It is the first duty of the state.
Image: Passengers crowd at a railway station as they sit on tracks while waiting for the electricity to be restored in Kolkata on Wednesday
Photographs: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters
'I am loyal to the Gandhi family'
On loyalty to the Gandhi family and being rewarded with the home ministry:
That's your conclusion. I can claim that I was a successful power minister. We have set up seven factories similar to Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. We have made India self sufficient when it comes to power generation.
I am loyal to the Gandhi family right from the days of Indiraji. Rajiv Gandhi had appointed a home minister from Dalit community (Buta Singh). This is second time a Dalit has been given this responsibility. Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh have appointed me. I was appointed as the chief minister of Maharashtra. I proved myself and brought the party back to power. I gave results in Maharashtra.
Rarely such opportunity is given to the Dalits or the minority. We are grateful.
On handling the home ministry:
I've not handled the home ministry earlier. But I've seen the situation as an administrator of Maharashtra for 18 years and also as the governor of Andhra Pradesh.
Image: Sonia Gandhi, president of the Congress party, with her son Rahul Gandhi, son-in-law Robert Vadra and daughter Priyanka Vadra and party supporters in Rae Bareli
Photographs: Kamal Kishore/Reuters
'I thank PM, Sonia for making me home minister'
On the biggest challenge as the home minister:
This country has so many problems like Naxalism, terrorism, fighting between religions, upliftment of Dalits. There's also the problem of infiltration along the borders. So let me look into it.
On Anna Hazare's fast:
I've not even discussed the issue with the officers. Let me get some information, and then I can talk about it.
On the journey from sub-inspector to home minister:
You have rightly put it that a sub-inspector can become the home minister. This is where the involvement of Sonia Gandhiji and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh comes in.
They must have seen my merit. Merit plus caste is very important. How many people from the SC get this opportunity!
I know this ministry is very critical. My grief and my sorrow are in my heart and my face is always smiling. I believe in that philosophy.
Image: Sonia Gandhi with PM Manmohan Singh