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Former VP Hamid Ansari was well within his constitutional and moral responsibility to articulate what he feels: INC leader Shehzad Poonawalla

As union Minister, it was Arun Jaitley's duty to visit the left cadre victims and also visit BJP ruled states where many people have been...

In an exclusive interview with The RawStraw, Indian National Congress leader Shehzad Poonawalla criticised the PM and other BJP leaders for hounding the outgoing vice president Hamid Ali Ansari over his recent remarks on the insecurity among the minorities. He also touched upon the future of the Bihar politics and questioned the government's intent over the recent arrest of the social activist Medha Patkar in Dhar. Also, he blamed Left and RSS for political violence in Kerala. Read on: 

1. What do you think of the recent comments of the Ex-VP Hamid Ali Ansari? Do you think the kind of hate one encounters on social media is a ground reality? 

I think that the former Vice President Hamid Ansari was well within his constitutional, legal and moral responsibility to articulate what he believes other challenges facing the country. He has on previous occasions also articulated such concerns in the public domain and privately conveyed them to the Prime Minister and the government as well. Even the former President of India Pranab Mukherjee on numerous occasions articulated similar concerns. Members of the civil society including the likes of Amartya Sen and recently 114 army veterans have drawn the attention of the Prime Minister And the government of India to the exact same concerns flagged by the outgoing Vice President Hamid Ansari. But the manner in which he has been attacked with the most vicious and while language on social media particularly by followers of the Prime Minister, the BJP and the RSS is shocking. Even party leaders and spokespersons have not spared the honourable former Vice President. And these are all people whose language on social media and mainstream media is being endorsed by the BJP and the Prime Minister. Even when the Prime Minister spoke in Rajya Sabha to give a farewell to Ansari Ji he chose that solemn occasion for political brownie points scoring. Wasn't it's appraising to the Prime Minister spoke about Hamid Ansari being limited in his worldview to the Middle East and West Asia completely ignoring the fact that Ansari has been a diplomat for India serving in the United Nations and other international platforms[sic]. When the Prime Minister himself speaks like a troll then what can you expect other than heat and sadly it is percolating into our society.

2. Recently the Social activist Medha Patkar was arrested while on her way to Dhar. You also have been a civil rights activists, what do you make of Narendra Modi govt’s attitude towards the social activists? 

One totally condemns the manner in which Medha Patkar Ji was arrested. Mr Modi's government and BJP governments are extremely insecure and high-handed when it comes to dealing with any kind of dissent or anti establishment movements. The manner in which the government of India has cracked down upon legitimate NGOs like Greenpeace and amnesty, The manner in which they have been crushing students protests in FTII or HCU, The manner in which they have silenced anybody who raises questions against the establishment of the government including media channels like NDTV who betray the dictatorial and undemocratic grooming of Mr Modi who is a member of the RSS which has always believed in stifling any voice of reason or rationality.

3. The Bihar politics saw an unexpected turn of events recently. What do you think of this paradigm shift and what does the future hold for the Congress party in Bihar?

What we saw in Bihar is the rank political opportunism and betrayal of the people's mandate of 2015 which was clearly against the BJP. Nitish Kumar by allying with the BJP has signed on to his political death warrant. The BJP will ride on the shoulders of Nitish Kumar and finish his political career by the time 2019 comes and will become the major partner in the alliance. This betrayal has also given the opportunity to the young RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav to emerge from his father's shadow. We will continue with an alliance with RJD and whatever votes Nitish Kumar had received because of the Maha Gathbandhan Will come back to the Congress-RJD because this is an anti-BJP vote. I foresee growth for the Congress party and the RJD in the next election in Bihar if they fight together which I think they will.

4. Mr Ahmed Patel won the Rajya Sabha seat by a whisker. Do you think it would prove strategically important for the Congress Party in the Gujarat Assembly elections?  

That seat always belonged to the Congress party. By making it a prestige issue Amit Shah and the BJP ended up losing their faces and exposing their underhanded tactics just for one Rajya Sabha seat. In the sheer arrogance of money power and using state agencies, Amit Shah felt that he and Mr Modi are invincibles. But the manner in which Ahmad Patel and the Congress party outwitted Amit Shah, he no longer can claim to be some kind of a political Chanakya. The victory has also come as a boost to the Congress party in Gujarat before the assembly elections and has revitalised the Congress cadre and supporters. This victory which would otherwise not have even been noticed has now become a Sanjeevani Booti for Congress thanks to the arrogance and stupidity shown by the BJP.

5. Kerala is engulfed in political violence. Workers of political parties are getting killed on the daily basis. Who do you think is to blame for this bloodied situation and what is the way ahead?

Almost every report put out by credible news organisations like NDTV, India today, CNN news 18, Indian express show that both RSS and left organisations have killed an equal number of workers on the other side. Many Congress workers have also been killed. Both RSS and left parties perpetrate this violence and are victims of this political violence. There is no denying that the violence increases when there is a non-Congress government in Kerala which clearly indicates that rule of law becomes a casualty if Congress is not in power in Kerala. But both sides are equally to blame for the spiralling political violence which is now going to other districts of Kerala, not just Kannur. It is the responsibility of both RSS and the left to control the violence and ensure that the violence comes to an end. I do not, however, agree with Arun Jaitley visiting Kerala and only meeting RSS victims. As union Minister, it was his duty to visit the left cadre victims and also visit BJP ruled states where many people have been lynched in the name of cow and beef. Where the centre is not concerned about violence by cow terrorists in BJP ruled states. Is it any better than political violence in Kerala? The only way forward is that both sides must shun political violence and should engage in a civil political discourse and people must see the track record of parties and their commitment to the Rule of Law while voting for them.

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Former VP Hamid Ansari was well within his constitutional and moral responsibility to articulate what he feels: INC leader Shehzad Poonawalla

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