|HOME | NEWS | ELECTIONS '98 | INTERVIEWS|
|February 28, 1998|
The Rediff Election Interview/Madhavrao Scindia
'Those who challenge Mrs Gandhi, they should first make it clear whether they are democrats or not'
Madhavrao Scindia, former maharaja of Gwalior, ex-Union minister, sometime president of the Indian cricket board and potential prime minister, in conversation with Ayaz Memon.
What are the basic issues before the Congress in this election?
Stability is our main issue, and there is no doubt it is also the most important issue before the country. In the 50 years of post-Independence India, the Opposition has had several chances to rule but each time it botched up, whether it was in 1971, 1977, 1989 or even in 1996. The Congress has always provided a stable government to the country and therefore it must be resurrected. Its revival is natural because in the history of every political party, there are ups and downs, peaks and troughs. We look back, see the kind of mistakes we have made and learnt from them.
Do you really see the Congress reviving now?
Yes, there is a revival in a big way. If only we had a little more time, we could have devoted more attention to our organisational structure and we'd have been even stronger. Congress president Sitaram Kesri was trying to build up the organisation but then the government fell.
But wasn't it the Congress which precipitated the fall of the government?
The Jain Commission report was an emotive issue. The sentiment of the Congress worker got caught up in this and this was difficult to contain. The UF, however, could have avoided the crisis. Those three DMK ministers could have stepped down for a few months, at least till things cooled down a bit. We had proposed this, but it was not accepted.
What impact has Sonia Gandhi made on the party?
Her arrival has had the anticipated salutary effect. In the first phase it enthused the workers. The second phase is seeing mammoth attendances at her public meetings. Her entry has had a very, very good effect.
The party has many experienced leaders, like you for instance, who have put in 15 to 20 years of work. Yet, it is now being led by Sonia Gandhi who has no political experience worth the mention...
In a democracy, it is the people who decide which leaders are most influential and popular. If one is a democrat, all arguments end there. Those who challenge Mrs Gandhi, they should first make it clear whether they are democrats or not.
The Congress is relying heavily on MP to get a reasonable tally. How do you see your party's prospects here?
Very good. All the senior leaders have worked together, and there is talk of us winning more than 25 to 28 seats.
How many do you predict?
I don't indulge in these things, but that number would make us happy.
|Tell us what you think of this interview|
INFOTECH | TRAVEL | LIFE/STYLE | FREEDOM | FEEDBACK