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Jaitley breaks silence over poll defeat
Published on 7 Aug. 2009 10:36 PM IST
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Breaking his silence on the attack against him by senior BJP leaders, for the first time, Arun Jaitley, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, spoke to NDTV’s Sonia Singh on the new show YOUR CALL. He said that senior leaders like Jaswant Singh were part of the decision-making process before the elections and he will not take individual responsibility for the defeat. Jaitley added, just as he did not take individual credit for the election victories in states he was in-charge of, he will take only part of the responsibility for the defeat. On being asked if he was the ‘henchman’ referred to in Arun Shourie’s newspaper articles, he said he did not approve of this word being used by party colleagues. He also strongly supported Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and said it was too early to write his political obituary. But the show is not all about politics; watch out for Arun Jaitley’s lighter asides, on his sideburns in the 70s and why Sushma Swaraj won’t be tying a Rakhi on him any time soon. Excerpt from the interview: Sonia Singh: Mr Jaitley you mentioned your article that actually sparked off a newspaper article war within the BJP. After that, we had both Jaswant Singh and Yashwant Sinha coming out saying why weren’t the people in-charge of election campaign, the reference being to you, taking direct responsibility. Arun Jaitley: All that I can say is that political parties are run in a manner where you have a group of people and a large number of senior people including a very honorable gentleman you named. We all work for the party and try sharing various responsibilities and therefore, whether in victory or in defeat, the party has to think ahead. The parties don’t have to spat as far as a public war is concerned and therefore keeping that discipline in mind I have decided to not respond to any of these comments and therefore I decided to stick by this discipline. Sonia Singh: But do you take responsibility? Arun Jaitley: Well, everybody in the party takes collective responsibility. That is how we all do it. And I am a part of it. Sonia Singh: So, in victory or defeat, one person can’t be blamed? Arun Jaitley: Well, I have never taken any credit for victory, I am willing to share part of the credits, discredits as far as our defeat is concerned, I have no hesitation in doing that. Sonia Singh: You referred to party’s internal matters, but I think irony of this is that its not internal, I mean we saw just recently. I think last month, an article written by Arun Shourie which talks about leaders and his henchmen and how the henchmen have become the leader’s eyes and ears and that they are the ones who make a grab for riches and party positions. You of course, the leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, again are seen as a reference to you. Arun Jaitley: As I told you, I don’t know whether he was referring to the BJP or any other political party, because no party was named. I don’t want to respond to it but please accept one fact; there are a large number of us in the BJP who work for decades before we get positions. And therefore we are never very enthusiastic in getting position A or position B. If that was so the position, it would be entirely different. Before I joined the political process, the ABVP in 1970, I waited for 29 years including several sentences and prison before I got my first position. So we are quite patient as disciplined workers and we are even willing to wait as far as the future is concerned. Sonia Singh: Right, so the word henchman won’t apply to you. Arun Jaitley: No, I am not saying that it doesn’t apply to me, these are phrases we do not use within the party. There are people that spent their lifetime and decades in parties and we don’t use these phrases for your colleagues. Sonia Singh: Even Narendra Modi seems to be facing trouble on his home ground- the recent election in Junagarh. Arun Jaitley: Well I think a lot has been made out of Junagarh. In Junagarh, numerically BJP still got more votes than the Congress. It is just that the Congress got four more seats than the BJP. So it’s marginal in that sense. And it’s attributable to the local performance factors in that constituency. Now let’s forget 2002 for a moment, I am not asking it to be wiped out because it can’t be wiped out. 2002 elections till now, he has won elections thereafter. He has governed Gujarat, he has governed it well. Now I think it’s being a little unfair, seeing his performance in the last seven years to say that we won’t give you any credit for the integrity, the competence with which you have led Gujarat. We will just keep you confined to one event of 2002. I think politics evolves and we are also seeing what he’s done in Gujarat in all these years. And therefore I think, those who were hardened critics of a man must also start analysing it with an open mind. Sonia Singh: Did you find that he was the poster boy of BJP before the elections and during the election campaign. Suddenly this thing came up that how Narendra Modi could be the Prime Minister. Many feel that actually damaged Mr Advani’s chances and now suddenly he seems to be not what the BJP needs? Arun Jaitley: I think in the days of instant journalism people make comments which have validity for a given period of time. But don’t forget one fact that there is no last day in the calendar of politics, it’s an evolving calendar. Therefore you never write obituaries in this manner and never do that in the case of politicians. (Courtesy NDTV)

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