put its trust in them and as a result they
came with Coalgate, Khelgate, 2G, CWG,
3G, Jijaji (referring to Robert Vadra,
Rahul Gandhi’s brother-in-law)...
Yes, we are gaining through Narendra
Modi’s personality and projection and also
by the Congress’ and UPA’s default.
Do the minorities have anything to fear if
a Modi government comes to power?
I can put it like this — at least they
When people who are like raja (king),
runk (pauper), fakir (poor), kalakar
(artist), sadhu (holy men) — they belong
I have been to Pakistan so many times to
see my sister — General Zia-ul Haq’s
daughter Zain Zia. Even they would ask
me why I am in a communal party. I told
them ki jis party mein hum jaise log hain
woh party communal kaise ho sakti hain?
(How can a party that has people like us be
Hum log toh trained hain ki justice sab
ko karo. Appeasement mat karo par
justice sab ke saath karo. (We are trained that
justice should be done to all instead of
It may sound like a cliché, but all the
children of our country are children of our
Bharat Mata. Since the entire opposition
has nothing to say against us — they say
this is a communal party.
Sabne mila ke darane ki koshish ki hai
(The opposition and others have tried to
create a fear psychosis).
Arun Shourie, M J Akbar, myself — are
we communal? What have we done that is
I always appeal to my minority friends,
especially Muslim friends, that if you don’t
like us don’t vote for us, but see our work,
the results of our work and then you may
join us in times to come, but till then:
Hum se tooto mat, rutho zaroor.
Dushmani jam ke karo,
Par itni gunjaish rahe ki jab kabhi hum
dost ban jaye
Toh sharminda na ho...
(You can be upset with us, but don’t
break away from us. You can be a rival,
but don’t go to the point of no return).
Don’t shoot the runway; in time to come,
we might meet on an equal platform.
This is the mainstream; this is the call of
the nation, the call of the people, the call
of the younger generation.
If you talk about minority — Gujarat
mein minority ka per capita income kum
hai ki zyada hain? Unke development
mein kya kabhi humne rok lagayi hain?
( What is the per capita income of the
minority in Gujarat? Is it more or less?
Have we hindered their development?)
Other political people are treating
minorities, especially Muslims, as vote
banks. We are not saying majority or
minority, we treat them as Indians. We
believe in sarva dharm sambhav —
respect for all religions.
There are concerns that voices like yours
may get drowned in a BJP-lead by Modi in
the background of the Gujarat riots?
Let me start from the Gujarat riots: As
of today, he has a clean chit from the
courts and the matter is subjudice so we
can’t talk much about that.
Though I know fully well that two
wrongs doesn’t make a right, but nobody is
talking about how many people have been
killed —Hindus and Muslims — and how
many people have been punished.
What about the Bhiwandi riots, whose
leadership it was — Congress? Bhagalpur
riots — Congress. Nellie massacre, 1984
I am not trying to justify, I condemn any
riot. It should not, would not and will not
happen if all of us had the same mindset,
No one talks about that. Perhaps it has
become a status symbol for people to talk,
condemn, criticize, abuse our people in the
name of the Godhra riots. I feel sorry and
ashamed not only for Godhra, but any riot.
Who has given the right to kill in the
name of religion? No one!
You are not James Bond 007, that you
will just take a shotgun and kill anybody at
your whims and fancies. We are not living
in a banana republic, we have a judicial
system, you go through that and so today I
would say let’s absolutely not talk about
that because he has got a clean chit and
the rest of the matter is subjudice.
Now to the first point about politicians
like me — I want to tell you I’m not a
politician, I am a gentleman. Or I’m a gentleman-politician. So if some day something doesn’t happen according to my
desire I would accept it as the verdict of
Only the majority of the decision-mak-ing body can overrule and the rule of discipline must prevail in the party.
If I am outsmarted by the rule of the law
or verdict of the majority then I have
nothing to say but given a chance, choice
and priority, I would never want anyone to
cross the Lakhsman Rekha (line, a reference from the Ramayana) and hurt anybody or anybody’s sentiment in the name
of religion, caste or creed.
Do you see any change in the secularism
that has been adopted in the country so
It must. I am not saying that it will
change, but it must.
By secularism what I understand is —
and I’d like people also to understand — is
one nation, one people.
If I’m a Hindu, Muslim, Sikh — I can be
secular even if I go to a mandir, masjid or
Who are the politicians you admire?
Late Jyoti Basu, Mr Kanshi Ram — I
had tremendous love and respect for them.
Sharad Pawar is a very mature politician.
L K Advani has been like a friend,
philosopher, guide, guru and ultimate
leader, not only to me, but the whole party.
I also had tremendous love and affection
for Nanaji Deshmukh.
I’m very fond of Sitaram Yechuri — a
very sharp and decent gentleman.
It is always been a treat to watch and
learn from Gurudas Dasgupta. In
Fortunately, I have friends in most par-
ties. Rajniti ke tarazoo par main dosti ko
nahi tolta hoon; dono ko alag rakhta hoon
(I keep politics and friendship separate
from each other).
‘I always appeal to my minority friends, especially Muslim friends,
that if you don't like us don't vote for us, but see our work, the
results of our work and then you may join us in times to come.’
‘How can a party that has people
like us be communal?’
RAJESH KARKERA/ REDIFF.COM
People await Shatrughan
Sinha in a vegetable market.