Subramanian Swamy: Where will he strike next?
He is accused of being a destroyer, the one who changes parties frequently, one who strikes at will, a megalomaniac, unpredictable and a Nehru-Gandhi family baiter. Economist-turned politician, Dr Subramanian Swamy fields the volley of accusations in his inimitable style and shares his views and plan of action in an exclusive interview with K Ramachandra Murthy
Dr Subramanian Swamy, the Harvard-educated economist-turned-politician, has been a fighter throughout his political career. Coming from a family with leftist ideology, his right-winged fundamentalism faced much derision. He calls Rajiv Gandhi a close friend, but has been a crusader against the Nehru-Gandhi family; his ardent Hindutva doesn't seem to impress the BJP who are wary of inviting him into the party.
The intelligentsia around the world respects him for his knowledge and the young Indians of the day vouch for him for his anti-corruption stand, that he showcases through his incessant tweets. He and his wife, Roxna Swamy, a Supreme Court advocate, have been campaigning against the 2G scam and have ruffled many a feather in the process.
He had a crucial role to play in the legal campaign and has won two cases - getting a time-frame to sanction prosecution against public servants and the judgement to scrap the 122 telecom licences. He however, lost one - to make Home Minister Chidambaram the co-accused. He has not given up yet. In an exclusive interview with SUNDAY HANS, he adds, "Chidambaram is unsuited for the post of Home Minister. Excerpts:
What is going on in New Delhi with five Chief Ministers taking on Home Minister Chidambaram?
It was an ill-advised move. All the Chief Ministers are not Congress party appointees. They are the people independently elected on their own strength. And, therefore, to suggest a measure which will de-value the state police in having the Central Police to conduct investigations is derogatory for the federalism of the country. Therefore, they have protested against it and the government didn't stand up for Chidambaram.
The Home Minister is trying to have a DGPs' conference bypassing Chief Ministers. It's actually immaturity on the part of Chidambaram. He is unsuited for the post of Home Minister.
But as a Home Minister he has committed statehood for Telangana people…He has and he went back on his word. He sent a list to Pakistan of people who are in their country asking their government to send them back to India. It turned out that two of them were in Indian jail and three of them were dead. He writes a letter saying that LET is responsible for Samjhoutha express and later on writes a letter saying it was a Hindu terrorist. What is this?
What happened to Chidambaram in 2G spectrum case? Is it a reprieve for him?
Well, these things happen in our country where one court says 'no', then another court says 'yes'. When I had gone to the Delhi High court for cancellation of licences it had rejected my plea. And then we went to Supreme Court and it had accepted it.
We are all human beings. Judges also are human and they make mistakes in law. In the case of justice Saini, he has agreed with everything that I said, that the decision making was jointly done by Chidambaram and Raja etc., but then he says that I have not shown any criminal intention of Chidambaram. Unfortunately that shows the judges have been working too much within the CRPC and the IPC.
Actually, in the Prevention of Corruption Act, a special provision was enacted only to free it from this concept of criminal intentions. Therefore, in the Prevention of Corruption Act, it says, if you are holding a public office and you benefit somebody to get extra money, and that is not in public interest, then it is corruption. So the judge should have applied that. It is not difficult for me to go to the Supreme Court and get it done. Chidambaram has not gone to the jail yet, but he will soon go.
So, it is not yet finished. You have not given up. Obviously, I have already filed Special Leave Petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court, and the date has been given as March 16.You seem to have some problems with Tamil Nadu politicians. Even Mani Shanker has said that you did not speak to him for two decades...
(Laughs) I have not spoken with him for decades. There is no point in talking to a man who is not serious. Any time and every time he makes silly remarks and tells lies to please Sonia Gandhi. So, how can I respect a man who is a chamcha?
You are now friendly with Jayalalithaa…
Now I am friendly with Jayalalithaa. I like her intelligence. She came to my house, and she said that she had acted with inexperience. I accepted… but I didn't withdraw the cases that I filed against her.
What according to you will happen in UP?
If there are no Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), the Congress will stand in the fourth position. It will not get more than 25 seats. Probably Mulayam Singh's party will be number one. Mulayam may also be close to the majority, he may not need any other party. But the consequence is that in the Presidential elections opposition President will be elected. Then I think mid-term poll will be held very soon for the Lok Sabha.
If there must be mid-term poll who do you think will gain - NDA or UPA?
NDA has to enthuse its party workers, particularly the BJP, their party workers are disheartened. In fact some people suggested that I should align with NDA and I have said I am ready. But I wonder what we shall say to people. Congress says development and secularism. Are we going to say the same thing? Then people may not give us much chance. I think we have a better chance if we say we will unite the country on the basis of Hindutva. Because today there is a feeling in Hindus that nobody is talking about them. So that sentiment needs to be captured. If there is an honest projection with a new set of faces, there may be a chance.
It means no Advani?
It means none of them. All those who were there in NDA government. People will not believe them.
It also means no Jaitley, Sushma and all the second rung leaders?
They can be the ministers. But to be the Prime Minister, it has to be a new face. It could be Modi. The problem with him is that, he will not get the majority and other allies will not come with him.
The killings of Muslims in Gujarat will also go against him. Do you think people in South India would vote for Modi?
(laughs) That's what I mean. He can deliver Gujarat but whether he can deliver in other places, we don't know.
That's why even BJP also is hesitating to project him as prime ministerial candidate Maybe. But they don't have anyone else.
He can at least get Gujarat. (laughs) That's right.
There are predictions that if the Congress gets about 100 seats in Uttar Pradesh, Rahul will take over from Manmohan Singh and if the Congress gets around 50 seats, Rahul will remain as an MP, Manmohan will continue. What do you have to say?
(Laughs) They say a lot of new changes are going to take place in the Congress. Sonia Gandhi has terminal cancer. Rahul is not a very intelligent person, neither is Sonia Gandhi. But Sonia has the backing of Vatican.
That's what Morarji said of Rajiv Gandhi, that he is not burdened by brains.
Yes, that's true. But he (Rajiv) was a nationalist.
You were close to him and you liked him.
He was basically a strong nationalist. That is what I liked about him. People made a fool of him; lot of people took advantage of him, especially Sonia, Arun Nehru and Arun Singh.
From the day you appeared in the Rajya Sabha during Emergency and created a sensation and then disappeared, till now, you have fought many a battle. What do you think of yourself and your position in Indian history when you look back?
When I came into politics, I said India needs three or four things to be done. Number one - It must give up socialism. When I said this, everyone was shocked. Ultimately, as a Minister, I got it done. Then, I said that we must have good and strong relations with Israel, which I ensured and it has since happened.
The third thing was that we must improve relations with China, and we should not be so dependent on the Soviet Union. When Morarji Desai became Prime Minister I had got Kailash Manasa sarovar opened. The fourth thing is that India can become a united country if you have a renaissance in Hinduism. I would like people to think of themselves more as Hindus than as Brahmins, Kshatriyas, North Indians or South Indians. I think that in contemporary history maybe things will not be so kind to me, because journalists get influenced by business houses. But when history gets recorded, it will be something like the improvement of the image of Sardar Patel - when he was alive nobody gave him much credit.
But Sardar Patel was considered the modern Bismark of India?
Yes, but those are afterwords. During his time nobody said so, as people were afraid that it might displease Jawaharlal Nehru. You have a very peculiar image. Maybe, it is because of the bias on the part of the journalists as you put it, but you are seen as a destroyer and one who changes parties frequently. One doesn't know where you will strike next, that you are a megalomaniac and unpredictable and that you are a Nehru-Gandhi family baiter forever. All that is wrong. First of all I have never changed the party. I joined the Jan Sangh and it merged with the Janata Party, I continue to be in Janata Party. I have had steady friends like Morarji Desai, Charan Singh, and I am not a Nehru family baiter because I had a great friendship with Rajiv Gandhi.
Nehru-Gandhi dynasty minus Rajiv?
(Laughs) That's a big minus. I did not know Jawaharlal Nehru. But as a historian, I think he was a bad Prime Minister. But to Indira Gandhi I was opposed because she was a socialist, pro-Soviet Union and then the Emergency. So, I had every reason to oppose her, and Sonia Gandhi naturally you know she had done a lot of harm to our country.
Don't you think the slowdown in the economy that affected a vast part of the globe did not affect India too much because of the Nehruvian economic policy?
No. All the countries that were affected by the collapse in America had weak banks. We have always had strong banks, that's because of the Reserve Bank.
Credit to the Reserve Bank of India, recently headed by two Telugus.
That's right. They both did a good job. Y V Reddy did much more. The current man (D Subba Rao) is not so good. If he was, he would have incriminated.
Now, can I say that your target is Sonia Gandhi?
She is the root cause of all problems. People blame Manmohan Singh, but it is Sonia Gandhi who prevented him from stopping Raja. And she got the biggest share of the bribe amount - of about Rs 36,000 crore.
Even in your battle against corruption, people say you are selective and that you are not fighting against every corrupt leader.
I agree, that is because I am an individual, I have no CBI with me, I have no money with me to throw around and I don't have a staff. I have to do everything myself. My wife is a lawyer and she takes most of the burden. So, I have to pick and choose. I can't catch everybody.
What do you think about Anna Hazare's movement or his fight against corruption?
Anna Hazare said corruption will be eliminated only if Jan Lokpal Bill is passed. I did not agree with that.
Do you think Jan Lok pal will come?
No, How can congress commit suicide?
BJP also was not ready for that...
I cannot defend BJP, they have to defend themselves.
You were close to PV Narasimha Rao. Do you think that he was treated properly by the Congress? Actually PV Once told me that he had asked the ministers to do whatever Sonia's secretary (George) asks them to... But what went wrong? Why had they become enemies?
He should have got Bharat Ratna for what he did. The economic reforms blueprint was prepared by me and he gave political support. Manmohan Singh only implemented it. But every-body gives Manmohan Singh the credit. I think Sonia Gandhi was unhappy with PV because he wouldn't give up party presidentship for her. She wanted him to remain as Prime Minister and give her the party presidentship. He told her that it has been the Congress tradition to have the Party President as the Prime Minister.
Don't you think it was wrong on his part to associate with people like Chandra Swamy?
What is wrong in associating with bad characters if you don't help them. Moreover, I don't think he met him more than a couple of times in a month.
But he used to enjoy unlimited access to PM's residence.
Yes. That is because he was a Swamiji. PV gave all Sawmiji’s the liber-ty to meet him directly. Newspapers only mentioned Chandra Swami.
But journalists also say that the Father of Indian economic reforms is Manmohan Singh.
That's wrong. If he could do all those big economic reforms then as a Finance Minister, what stops him now? So obviously it means that they have been Narasimha Rao's reforms.
What is your take on small states?
I am totally in favour of small states. First of all let us remember, no state is going to leave India, we are not talking about cutting the state out. Nowadays governance has become important. Every chief minister must be able to go and meet people of his state. In these large states, in the five years of regime chief minister is not able to go to every district. I don't think any state should be bigger than, say about 10 to 15 districts.
What do you expect the people of India to do now?
We are a very young population with over 70 percent below the age of 35. People have to take more risks. I want the people not to think of money as the final goal. You can't sacrifice your whole life for making money. The desire for more money is the reason for increased corruption. I will say don't imitate the West. Learn from our tradition and have the correct view of the history. Don't learn the British version of our history. I want people to take interest in politics...clean it up…don't complain!
Where will India be 20 years from now?
India will overtake China in ten years of time. China is going to have very big financial crisis. We will have a budgetary crisis but we are a democratic country so we can improve ourselves. When there is food crisis we had Green Revolution and when there was foreign exchange crisis we had economic reforms and so when we have a budgetary crisis we will have a more efficient government.
How do you like Dr. Swamy to be remembered?
As a man who said what he believed in and did what he liked.