There is no doubt about it that Narendra Modi has used all institutions and created an environment of sabka saath sabka vikas, says Sibal.
In an interview with Ashhar Khan, senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal says that ever since the BJP came to power they have been targeting all Opposition parties.
It has been three years and about 30 politicians belonging to Opposition parties have been raided or searched by the investigating agencies. Do you think it’s a witch-hunt?
I don’t want to make allegations of those sorts. But one thing is clear that ever since 2014 when this government came to power they have been targeting all Opposition leadership. Not just of the Congress but leaders of other political parties as well. You look at the Aam Aadmi Party, ever since they came to power, one after the other, their leaders, MLAs and ministers are being targeted. It’s a daily phenomenon. While the Delhi government is also incapable of working, the Centre is making sure that the AAP doesn’t work by specifically targeting leaders and then the top leadership.
Now if you look at West Bengal in Saradha scam and other things they are targeting one leader or the other of the Trinamul Congress. While Mamata Banerjee was in comfort with them the targeting stopped, the moment she was ostensibly against this government all of it started again. In the same fashion they targeted Lalu Prasad Yadav.
They also targeted Congress leadership in the Associated Journals Ltd issue, which according to me is a non-issue. Now they are targeting P. Chidambaram’s son and indirectly Mr Chidambaram. They targeted former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and now they are after Motilal Vora, who is about 90 years old. They have targeted Himachal Pradesh chief minister by starting a CBI investigation in Delhi when there was no occasion to do so.
Jagan Mohan Reddy is in their radar but at the moment they are quiet because they need his support in the presidential election. They have started going after the leadership in Tamil Nadu too. Here we can see a clear pattern to target the Opposition.
But the BJP says that the investigating agencies are just doing their job and it is the misdeeds of the Congress and other Opposition parties, which are coming out. Your comments.
You are absolutely right, naturally they would say that, but if there are misdeeds it will be determined through the course of trial in a court. I can assure you that there are a lot of misdeeds they are aware of in their own government in which no action has taken place. In the Vyapam scam we have given them documentary evidence. We all know the misdeeds of the Central Cabinet ministers. I do not want to name them but these became a subject matter for a lot debates in Parliament and in the media.
People who were convicted were also made ministers. So the basis on which they are targeting the Opposition, if they were to observe the same yardstick against their leaders, most of them would be under the net of the CBI.
Do you think the investigating agencies on which the country relies are losing their credibility by such actions?
Oh absolutely without any doubt! They called the CBI a caged parrot when the UPA was in power. The role being played by them is detrimental to the functioning of a democracy. The CBI has become the long arm of this government. Now there are reports that the CBI has started threatening people that if you don’t give statements in a particular manner, which they want, then they shall deal with you. Now they are using the Prevention of Money Laundering Act to their advantage as well, even if the case is not proved and the CBI has just filed an FIR immediately after that the Enforcement Directorate proceeds against those people even if there is no chargesheet filed under the PMLA and seizes their properties. It is most unfortunate that the CBI is being misused in this fashion.
What is the way forward to counter this attack so that you can make your point of “vendetta politics” being played out by the government?
There are two fronts here on which we will have to take on this government. One is of course the legal battle, we will have to deal with them in court and provide adequate defence for various leaders who are being targeted. There would also be a political plan. All Opposition parties will have to come together to fight this partisan government.
Is the Congress reaching out to other Opposition parties to have an Opposition coalition?
See a coalition cannot only be on the basis of this targeting; there needs to be a broad-based Opposition not only limited to this. There needs to be a meeting of minds. Today we are seeing democracy being trampled. The very systems of government, which we are used to, are being used to the ruling party’s advantage. Governments are becoming partisan, the media (both print and electronic) also is sought to be controlled by the government. The real facts of what is happening on the ground are not emerging. There needs to be a broad-based Opposition to this government.
It’s been three years since the Modi government came to power. How do you see the three years?
While there has been great hype over what this government has done I don’t see much happening on the ground. On the economic front they say the GDP is moving ahead at the rate of seven per cent. If you look at the job growth it is at one per cent. I don’t see the GDP being reflected in increasing jobs for people. Their foreign policy is in shambles and relations with neighbours is at an all-time low whether it is China, Pakistan or Nepal. On the social front we are seeing the kind of violence we have never seen before all over the country. There are no concrete steps in the health sector. The only field in which some progress has been made is digitalisation, but this only helps the elite section of society.
There is massive agrarian stress. We have been pointing this out to the government too. There is no credit off take in the industrial sector. Manufacturing and MSME sectors are badly ailing with no policy of the government. There is a lot of hype but very little action on the ground.
The BJP is at an all-time high. Only two years are left for general election. So how is the Congress going to counter this?
There is no doubt about it that Narendra Modi has used all institutions and created an environment of sabka saath sabka vikas. The Congress will no doubt go to the people and expose the realities of the BJP, which are hidden because massive hype is being created in the media. Also, we will have to see a broad-based Opposition unity to take on the BJP government at the Centre.
In the three years how do you see the internal security challenge, which is always a difficult subject for any government?
Look at the Naxal violence, look what happened in Sukma. It is for all to see what is going on in Kashmir. If you just look at the figures 172 terror incidents and 1,343 ceasefire violations under the present regime have taken place. In the Northeast, there have been 344 civilian deaths and 99 security personnel have lost their lives. In Naxal-related incidents, there have been 278 security personnel deaths. I can go on, but the government has to act and act fast.