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The Rediff Interview / Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi

'Congress would have been ruling today but for the scandals'

Former federal minister and senior Congress leader is one of the dissident who favour drastic measures to refurbish the image of the party whose image, he thinks, has taken a steep nosedive thanks to various Congress persons being chargesheeted for their involvement in sundry scandals.

Dasmunshi vented his feelings during the meeting of the Congress parliamentary party (CPP) on Friday, September 13. The meeting was convened by Congress President P V Narasimha Rao on the insistence of the dissidents, although Friday was the concluding day of the extended budget session of Parliament.

In a brief interview to Tara Shankar Sahay inside Parliament, Dasmunshi said that there should be no further delay in distancing the chargesheeted persons from the party, and that they should not be given any party or organisational posts. Excerpts from the interview:

In Friday's CPP meeting, you spoke about the need to remove chargesheeted Congressmen from party posts. Did your impassioned plea have any effect on the party leadership, particularly your party president?

It was my duty to raise this matter. Those of us who have served the party loyally for so many years can no more tolerate the level to which the party has been brought down because of scandals against Congressmen who, by their actions, have given a bad image to the party. I am just one among a large number of Congressmen who feel that we would have been ruling today if these scandals had not been there.

But has your proposal for the setting up of a two-member committee to go into various scandals involving the Congress party been accepted by the leadership? Santosh Mohan Deb (a Rao loyalist) said that you simply made a proposal, not a resolution?

What matters is that this aspect, which had been burning in our minds, has been articulated. It matters little who raised it. The point is, if even the traditional voters of the Congressdid not cast their vote in our favour, there is definitely something wrong. I think this wrong lies in the party's negative image, thanks to the scandals.

Please don't misunderstand, but your partymen in the West Bengal unit of the Congress say that you are a 'fair weather friend', that while earlier you sang praises for Rao, now you have become critical because of his current adversities including allegations of his involvement in scandals. Comment.

Are you out of your mind? I have been a loyal Congressman and I have made the proposal regarding the committee because I feel for the party. Your charges against me are baseless.

P V Narasimha Rao Agreed that many CPP members spoke out against corruption in the party. But the point is, what effect is it going to have on Narasimha Rao if he does not step down from the Congress president's post?

Wait and see.

I mean, Rao has a majority both in the AICC and the CPP, so obviously he is well placed, isn't he?

Senior Congress leaders are getting disillusioned by the state of affairs in the party. That is a warning, no matter who or what comprises the leadership. There is a growing feeling that unless drastic measures are taken, the party will slide further down. That is why people like me are concerned and I can tell you that mine is not a minority opinion.

Opinions are fine but they appear to serve little purpose if mere words are not followed by action. Isn't it?

Extraordinary situations give birth to extraordinary solutions. You will see, Congressmen want things in the party to improve.

The Rediff Interview

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