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December 6, 1997

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'If the Congress MPs had not been kept confused, they may have changed sides'

Rajiv Pratap Rudy found his moment of glory in the dying moments of the eleventh Lok Sabha. Although the young MP from Chapra, Bihar, fought hard to avert the dissolution, it was his role in rallying together first-term MPs against the move that won him a place in the national limelight. Now reconciled to a dissolved House, the Bharatiya Janata Party politician spoke to Archana Masih about that heady week and his plans for the forthcoming election.

Now that your attempts to avert the dissolution of the Lok Sabha have failed, what is the prevailing mood amongst younger MPs?

We have accepted it. There is no question of thinking back. We tried our best to show the light. We are thankful to the President who gave time, but the UF and the Congress could not decide. Their cat and mouse game created more confusion. It was evident that the Congress confused the whole issue and has been exposed.

Has the group of the 140-odd first-term MPs who signed the memorandum last week had had a chance to meet subsequently?

No, we have had no time for any such activity. Now that the Lok Sabha has been dissolved and elections due in February, the MPs have left, or are leaving for their constituencies.

Do you feel disappointed that your efforts have borne no fruit?

There is no disappointment. Our effort at least resulted in a week of Ďreal thinkingí by various parties. Even the President in his five page dictation which was sent to the political parties has mentioned his appreciation for our efforts.

Do you think this gave many young MPs a chance to come in the forefront?

To a certain extent yes. But what is important is that the twelfth Lok Sabha,, when it is formed, should deliberate on instability. I wish the mandate will apply their mind and decide on a stable government.

What is your next move? Are you moving back to your constituency?

Yes, I am going to my constituency. I shall be shuttling between Patna and Delhi. The situation in my constituency is dependent on the equation of caste. It is a localised state government. There is no development, infrastructure and industry. But I have faith in my people. I know they will elect me again.

Did you have enough opportunity to show your mettle in Parliament? Was it a good learning process?

Since Parliament was hardly in session, there is no question on that score. With the rallying together of younger MPs and the role played by me, at least the country has come to know Chapra. For 50 years, no MP has made Chapra as visible as I have. I consider it a big achievement.

Congress MP T Subbirami Reddy said that first-termers donít have an issue to go back to their constituencies? Do you agree?

It is the Congress MPs that donít have an issue. Their only issue is that the UF is protecting the DMK. This cannot be a partyís national agenda.

How do you see the political equation now?

In the fight between the UF and Congress, it is the BJP that will emerge as the winner.

Do you feel cheated on having received such a short term as MP?

No I donít feel cheated. We have to face such things. All these things are a part of a politicianís life. Yet it gave me a good opportunity to lead from the front.

Isnít it true that the BJP was behind the move by first-termers to halt the dissolution of Parliament?

It is just a perception. That is not correct. All other parties became so scared that they started looking at this as a BJP gameplan. It was not motivated by my party. I happened to be more visible in this group because I am very social with other younger MPs, and there a good number of younger MPs in Parliament.

Why werenít more first-time MPs, especially in the Congress, willing to change sides, to avoid dissolution?

Those chaps were deliberately kept in the dark by the elders in the party. If they had not been kept confused, they may have changed sides.

Will it be difficult for you to raise funds to fight another election?

It is always difficult, but I hope to manage with the help of friends and well-wishers.

How do you see your party placed in the next general election?

The BJP will come to power. The country is disgusted with the behaviour of the Congress, also the UF. This times, the mandate will show this disgust.

EARLIER REPORT:
Young MPs rally against the dissolution of Lok Sabha

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