Highlights of the Press briefing Held at 1615 Hours 12.08.2014
Shri Abhishek Singhvi addressed the media today.
Shri Abhishek Singhvi said we are all waiting for ‘achhe din’. Our wait is becoming longer and longer. We hope it does not become interminable and does not begin to encroach on eternity. We all hope that we all get some ‘achhe din’ sometimes before our old age pension. This expectation of ‘achhe din’ began to diminish firstly when we got an insipid bureaucratic uninspiring budget. Soon people began to realize the hiatus between political pulpit rhetoric and reality. Then ‘achhe’ din’ came in the form of vendetta politics, spoil system from Governors to the Head of the National surveillance agency, to Private Secretaries of erstwhile Ministers, to Diplomats,to Mr. Gopal Subramaniam’s candidature for Supreme Court. We saw a blazing intolerance about anyone who dared to dissent with His Master Voice (HMV). Then came the pride list price hit. Mr. Modi’s magic wand to beat the Congress with became his own bug bear when tomatoes and onions refused to obey his dictatorial mandate. Incidentally on the price rise front you have a list of 14% rail fare hike, we are talking of only 60 days not 60 months, three times tripling of the import duty on sugar, petrol prices rising by Rs. 1.70 per litre, LPG prices rising, tomatoes selling at only Rs. 80/- per kg and onions and potatoes which are not sailing together are sailing together around Rs. 40/- per Kg. On all this, look at the level of sycophancy when the recent BJP Meet with all this great price rise says this “the National Council extends its wholehearted appreciation to the government for having been able to contain price rise during such a short period and expects it would maintain a hawk’s eye on the prices of essential commodities to make necessary intervention”.
Then next, in the series of ‘achhe din’ which we are expecting and getting, we find communal harmony. BJP is known for creating an underlying atmosphere – a sub text never direct never open a camouflage and the camouflage is of words, of symbols, of double speak with double meaning. All of it is intended to emphasize communal issues and under tones and overtones and create a divisive and provocative ambience and unfortunately the focus of all this is cheap electoral gain. Why do I say this? 605 incidents within the 60 days, of which over 400, which I have said so earlier from this podium, relate to those 12 by poll going areas of UP or the immediate hinterland of those areas. That is UP. Haryana is going to polls and you have Mewat – a symbol of harmony and peace normally. You have Touri and Basai villages near Gurgaon which have not experienced for a long-long time this kind of unrest. Maharashtra is going to the polls and you have the terrible, horrible, horrific Pune incident – the ‘topi’ incident and then from the master remote control of Maharashtra and Nagpur, you have yesterday’s great statement of Mr. Bhagwat. And last on my list of ‘achhe din’ is the 25 ceasefire violations of the highly nationalistic, jingoistic security oriented BJP. The 56” chest Prime Minister only in 60 days, 25 serious ceasefire violations officially documented. It is well known that many of them are not documented at all. In the last 4-5 days we had 4. This is the new definition of national security of ‘achhe din’ and this is the true package which you get from communal harmony to defence, from price rise to vendetta politics, from the budget to the various issues of harmony and governance.
To a question that the law and order is a state subject and how can you blame the Central government for communal harmony, Shri Singhvi said I am not in the least making a law and order ordinary point. The point I am making is much larger. A provocative atmosphere, an insightful atmosphere, an ambience of provocation is deliberately created in targeted areas to conflagrate, to create a situation like a tinder box where the slightest spark can set off. I am not talking of law and order policing. I am talking of areas which are going to polls. I am talking of targeted sub constituencies. I am talking of communities and areas where electoral gain is to be had by a divisive surcharged atmosphere. We all know the BJP tactic is to talk by sub text,is to talk by camouflage, is to talk not directly but by creating situation and ambience and that is my straight charge whether some people like it or not. That is the situation.
To another question on the position of the Congress party on National Judicial Appointment Commission and Constitutional Amendment Bill, Shri Singhvi said you are entitled to each and every one of your adjectives, your adjectives don‘t actually make anything inconsequential . You have to wait for a day in the event the government chooses to bring this in the penultimate day of parliament. You will see.You will get our answer.
Coming clean we have told you earlier and let me repeat it now. This Bill was our initiative. Secondly, it was our draft, our idea, our pioneering initiative after decades. It was to restore the balance between the three organs. Thirdly, the then BJP individual Members quoted in your newspaper and channels opposed specific clauses which you find now in today’s Bill. That is hypocrisy with a capital ‘H’ for you. Fourthly, they have now chosen to bring it suddenly in the last dying days of the parliamentary session which I do not think is the appropriate manner of dealing with a Bill on such an important issue of a constitutional amendment. Nevertheless, with all three four points, you have not seen till now any negative approach of the Congress. Now I am not here to tell in advance what is going to happen but you can rest assured that while we are proud and as we have said in the case of the budget imitation remains the best form of flattery. We will wherever necessary and I know where but I am not going to tell you where till we speak in parliament wherever does solid constructive criticism. We are going to seek some amendments. We are not against the basic Bill, we are not against the object sought to be achieved and we are not against the spirit. All those three things are ours but remember there are two or three significant substantive changes in the clauses. What effect they have on issues like independent judiciary. We will tell you. So what you will have by the Congress unlike the BJP is constructive, positive, critical approach without disturbing the basic object of ushering in a new regime.
On the question whether you are going to support changing the basic features of the constitution, Shri Singhvi further said we are going to let you know when the whole thing is put to vote but I told you in great detail which I have to tell you. How can you ask that question? That unfortunately betrays the complete ignorance of our constitutional law? Neither the Congress party, nor the whole of parliament nor the President added to the parliament nor all of us can change the basic structure of the constitution which is unalterable by definition.
The Chief Justice of India was expressing his anguish at (a) what has been uttered within the judicial precincts and (b) about a litigant before him who made a charge about a transfer as a Chief Justice when he said there has never been such proposal. If you want to know what the CJI said. The CJI’s biggest attack was on uninformed press which tends to write issues which are not factually true, would you like to discuss that. He talked about the press who published reports about transfer of a Chief Justice which he said were non-existent because there is only one Chief Justice of India and there is only one collegium and he has not suggested this.
Coming back to proposed changes, Shri Singhvi said I am saying that you will see the full flow of our approach. Certainly this Bill which is ours has two or three major changes. We believe that some of these impinge on judicial independence or perhaps disturb the balance. We will suggest changes, we may or may not have the numbers but we will support the Bill subject to constructive change. That is very constructive approach.
Shri Singhvi further said it means that the BJP has 323 and a majority with certain non BJP allies in the Rajya Sabha on this issue and we are not opposing the Bill. Parliamentary politics is all about numbers. Our principled objection to certain clause must be on record. Today you must understand parliamentary democracy permits me even as a Congressman to get up and say a Bill moved by the Congress should have these amendments. MPs are not zombies, they are supposed to get and give constructive criticism.
To a question that Mr. Moily had articulated his views in Lok Sabha, Shri Singhvi said you know we had a special meeting at 9.30 am today and certain persons were asked to brief about the Bill where this was discussed. You have also heard the Lok Sabha debate partly. Everything is in the public domain. This government has bought a Bill most clauses except a few like ours after having opposed tooth and nail this Bill. You do not talk about that hypocrisy.
To a question on the statement of PM today in J&K that Pakistan is setting a stage for waging a proxy war against India; Shri Singhvi said I can’t answer questions of setting the stage but certainly the Indian view across the board politically is not a question of politics has been. I think it is the most open secret not in India but the whole world. You can use all fancy words. We know proxy war is waged. We know more than a proxy war is waged and we know unfortunately first proxy war was waged within a few days of 1947 independence. He is stating a self evident truth.
On the question of offering Dy. Speaker’s post to second largest opposition party AIADMK, Shri Singhvi said what we have to say about it. You may ask the persons who have offered. Obviously both the non-recognition of the single largest party as the official opposition as also the non-appointment of a Dy. Speaker from the Congress ranks is a continuing assault on established consistent parliamentary culture of over 60 years. It speaks badly for our parliamentary culture, it does not make as strong and vibrant a democracy as we might have and it is ultimately a question which you have to ask the government.
To a related question that when UPA was in power this post was not offered to Left, Shri Singhvi said that the Left did not want to take the post then. There was no argument at that time. The point today is that this is something which we are not here to attack the Speaker. That is not the point at all. The point is it is incumbent upon the government to keep up the highest tradition of parliamentary politics. That is all. It reflects poorly on those who do it and not on those who are not given the post.