President K R Narayanan, who had spoken against a 'revision' of the Constitution, has said that there should be neither 'ad hoc changes' nor 'wholesale changes' to it.
He also felt that there were many sectors in the Republic in which 'there is disorder' but fundamentally it was 'healthy and functioning all right'. Narayanan, who lays down office next week, also dismissed as 'misconception' that he had 'rebutted' and 'snubbed' Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on the issue of Constitution review.
There was no tension at all in his relationship with Vajpayee, Narayanan said in an informal chat with news weekly The Week.
He said he never intended to be a presidential candidate again, but had kept an 'open mind' if there was a consensus.
If the country really needed, he would have taken up the responsibility, he added.
To a question on his views as a custodian of the Constitution, Narayanan said the Indian Constitution was unique and was one of the best in the world.
He had turned to the Constituent Assembly debates whenever he was faced with a ticklish problem for which there was no plan of action given in the Constitution, and found light thrown on the Constitutional questions confronting him.
"That is why I have emphasised that ad hoc changes should not take place. Normal amendments as and when required should be done. There is no need to go for a wholesale change or a new approach," he said.
Looking back at the Presidency, Narayanan said that the most difficult period for him as President was when the Vajpayee government in April 1999 lost its majority in Parliament.
"Some sections of the media wrote that I had favoured Congress leader Sonia Gandhi by giving her plenty of time. She was not given any extraordinary treatment. She had to be called as she represented the second largest party," he said.
Narayanan said he had asked leaders of other opposition parties because he wanted to convince the nation that all possible efforts were being made to avoid a mid-term election. Giving details of the discussions between him and Vajpayee, he said, "I had told the prime minister when he resigned, if no other party was able to form the government, if he were to show an accretion in strength, I would consider inviting him again."
He said he had told other leaders of his coalition that after the option of those who voted against the government was exhausted, the BJP and its allies would be considered again if they could muster extra support.
After the opposition parties said they could not form a viable government, Narayanan said he called the prime minister and asked whether there was any increase in his strength.
"He candidly told me the position had not changed. I then advised him to convene the Cabinet and bring a resolution recommending dissolution of the Lok Sabha. All these facts have been detailed out," he said.
On relationship with Vajpayee, he said there was no tension at all.
"I had returned a recommendation of the Cabinet for imposing President's rule (in Bihar), and there was great speculation that we were on a course of confrontation. But when he came to meet me, he said with a smile, 'You have made history'. I replied, 'I didn't know whether it was historic'," Narayanan said.
"In fact, he has never complained about anything. Even when his government fell by one vote, he had no complaints. From the beginning till the end, we had constant consultations and communication," he said.
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