Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor said the opposition's call for a no confidence motion on Friday was to speak out and engage the government on issues ranging from jobs and farmers' issues to lynchings and atrocities against dalits.
"After the washout of that session many opposition parties said we have lost an opportunity to place before the nation the failures of this government – the economic mismanagement, the mis-governance, the agricultural stagnation, farmers' suicide, joblessness and unemployment, the decline in the economic growth," he said.
"So, when parliament came around again, many opposition parties, I think it was something like 8, may have been even more by the end of the process and may have been a dozen, all said we want to have a vote of no-confidence just so that we can express our dissatisfaction before the nation and that is precisely what the vote of no-confidence will enable us to do," Tharoor added.
The MP, who represents Thiruvananthapuram in the Lok Sabha, also stood by his "Hindu Pakistan" comment and said it was taken out of context.
Watch the interview here: Tharoor stands by "Hindu Pakistan" remark, says no confidence motion to discuss government's failures Edited Excerpt: Q: What do you make of the controversy created around your “Hindu Pakistan” remark? A: It has been of course taken out of context but one can’t be responsible for what others do. I was speaking very clearly on the subject of challenges to Indian democracy and secularism. I said one of the big challenges we have is indeed the fact that the ruling party has an ideology which they call “Hindu Rashtra”.
Our nationalist movement had divided in two ways, there were those who thought that religion should be a determinant of nationhood and that gave you the idea of Pakistan and there were those who thought that religion was essentially irrelevant and the nation should be for everybody and that was the idea of India.
I said however those who are advocating “Hindu Rashtra” would be creating a mirror image of Pakistan and that the majority of Hindus certainly in that audience in Thiruvananthapuram do not want a Hindu version of Pakistan, so we don’t want a Hindu Pakistan, that was basically the message. Of course no one bothers to listen to the entire speech. I have nothing to take back to what I said.
Not only is it accurate, it is actually a reflection of the existing ideology of the RSS and the BJP. After I made that speech Mohan Bhagwat has again confirmed that “Hindu Rashtra” remains their ultimate objective.
Q: The Congress party immediately said that we do not agree with these statements. They distanced itself and there were reports which said that the Congress has asked you to restrain yourself. A: I don’t know where that comes from because every single Congress leader in Kerala which is where I made the speech came out strongly in support of me and that is without exception – the former chief minister, the leader of the opposition, the head of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee, every MLA, so you really had a unanimous level of support from the Congress party here.
I am afraid a young spokesman here or there, I am sure has a point of view. In a democratic party there should be room for opinions and they should be discussed within the party.
My own view very clearly is that where there is a disagreement it is best to be aired within the party. I was doing my job as a constituency MP addressing a pro Congress audience on a subject that I happen to know something about and I have absolutely nothing to take back.
Q: I am going to move now to the no-confidence motion because everybody is talking about it right now. What was the rationale because there are people who are saying in the opposition that this was a mistake? A: The last session – the budget session a number of parties had put forth no-confidence motion particularly at the time of the budget there was a great deal of anger at that time and we saw something quite disgraceful where the government appeared to be inciting their own supporters and well-wishers, in particular in the latter part of the session – the AIDMK, which survives in Tamil Nadu on the largess of the BJP government in the centre to disrupt the house. In other words it seems that the government preferred to disrupt the house and pass the budget in the din rather than discuss any of the issues facing the nation.
After the washout of that session many opposition parties said we have lost an opportunity to place before the nation the failures of this government – the economic mismanagement, the mis-governance, the agricultural stagnation, farmer’s suicide, joblessness and unemployment, the decline in the economic growth, the rising prices of everything cooking gas cylinders to the petrol or diesel the poor two wheeler guy buys at the pump because the BJP government is slapping Rs 20 tax on every litre.
So, we said we had this opportunity and the BJP was so scared of hearing it that they disrupted the house and should we not seize this opportunity again the next time it comes around.
So, when parliament came around again, many opposition parties, I think it was something like 8, may have been even more by the end of the process and may have been a dozen, all said we want to have a vote of no-confidence just so that we can express our dissatisfaction before the nation and that is precisely what the vote of no-confidence will enable us to do.
Q: So, it is merely a platform to voice your concerns, voice your opposition, criticism to the government but the Congress very well knows that it doesn’t have the numbers for the no-confidence motion to go through? A: The point of the debate and the point of putting these things across is also to bypass the media’s willingness to allow the BJP’s media management to dictate the narrative and dictate the headlines.
At least for one day if not for a week, you will have the country focusing on the issues that the opposition considers important. You will also have the country listening to its own problems which the BJP tries to mask under all the rhetoric of Hindu-Muslim talk and so on.
Q: When the headline says BJP wins the confidence motion vote in parliament, BJP will be able to say that we had the numbers, this was just a political gimmick on the part of the opposition. A: This is not a political gimmick, this is a constitutional right that whenever 50 people who are in the house have the desire to challenge the government and to express no-confidence, they have the right to do so.
What is very important for us to understand is there are people coming from different perspectives, the TDP put worth and they will be first speakers, they have been much more concerned about the mistreatment of Andhra, the fact that promises were not kept to Andhra but you have others with other issues and we will have multiple issues we wish to raise as the leading opposition party.
How do we get our voice out to the people? This is an excellent way of doing so.
Q: Talking about the issue of corruption, the Congress has been taking on the government over the likes of Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi fleeing the country, they are talking about corruption cases against BJP ministers as well. Today P Chidambaram has been named as an accused in a supplementary charge sheet in the Aircel-Maxis deal, how do you react to that? A former finance minister belonging to the Congress party named as an accused in a charge sheet isn’t that embarrassing?
We have not got to a stage where there is any conviction or any judgement. So, the rush to judgement should be avoided.
A: It is certainly not a pleasant thing but let me stress that a charge sheet is only that until such time as a duly constituted court believes there is a case to answer and frames formal charges in court, only then the person truly becomes an accused and has to defend himself which if it comes to that stage I am sure knowing the former finance minister, he will defend himself ably.