Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid has acquired a centre stage in Uttar Pradesh assembly elections for his recent comments over sub-quota for minorities. Some sections of political class believe that his comments are largely aimed at polarizing Muslim votes in his wife’s favour (Salman’s wife Louise Khurshid is contesting from Farrukhabad Sadar seat) rather than reviving Congress’ poll prospects. Talking to Dainik Jagran about his party’s performance after the completion of the fourth phase of polling, the Law Minister rejected the speculations that the Congress has failed to perform the way it was expected. He also downplayed the claims that only the Samajwadi Party was capable in keeping the BJP at bay. Rather he accused the SP of steaming BJP’s growth.

Excerpts:

Q. Nobody expected that such a sensitive person like Salman Khurshid would behave in this manner?
A. Which kind of behaviour are you talking about? I haven’t shown any misconduct.

Q. Is it justified to challenge the authority of a constitutional institution like Election Commission?
A. Now it is a closed chapter. There is no more scope left to discuss the issue.

Q. It’s fine that the controversy is over. But do you ever regret your statements which triggered controversy.
A. Actually place and timing decide the relevance of your words and behaviour. Whenever, I preside over a meeting in my department as a minister, my behaviour is quite different from that of in the Parliament. Likewise, my behaviour in a public meeting will also be quite different from that of the other places. The mood and ambience in a public meeting is quite different.

Q. It means you feel that you were right and didn’t commit any mistake during the entire episode. 
A. I again repeat that it is a closed chapter. Is there any sense in discussing the issue?

Q. Some people believe that your statement which triggered a controversy between you and Election Commission was preplanned and aimed at polarising Muslim voters in Congress’ fold?
A. Our party, the Congress, has a very clear stand over the issue of reservation for Muslims and we are working according to that.

Q. But what is the reason behind raising your voice in support of Muslim reservation especially during elections?
A. Were the Sachar Committee and Rangnath Mishra Commission appointed at the time of any election? The Congress has been working since long to improve the socio-economic and educational condition of Muslims. Even if there was no election, Muslim reservation was to be given even then.

Q. Despite your all these efforts, the Congress seems to have failed to perform the way it was expected!
A. It could be your assessment. I see the Congress Party is performing so well everywhere.

Q. How many seats are you going to win?
A. It is impossible for anybody to predict about the poll results prior to the counting of votes. Not even media can do this. How can I tell you about the number of seats?

Q. Akhilesh Yadav says that the Congress Party is banking on outsiders who joined your party recently. He also claims that such people won’t help you to win the elections?
A. Akhilesh has grown mature enough and he should know that the people who are viewed as ideals for the Samajwadies (Socialists), departed from the Congress Party at different stages in past. If he can win elections by the help of outsiders, why can’t we?

Q. If no party could win majority, would you consider joining hands with others?
A. The battle is being fought. Nothing could be said until it reaches to its end.

Q. The SP leaders claim that only their party can keep the BJP out of power?
A. They are in illusion. It is only the Congress Party which is capable in keeping the BJP at bay. 

Q. But it has been experienced that whenever SP succeeded in defeating BJP in UP, your party formed the government at the Centre. A. It’s not like that. Actually the SP is responsible for the rise of BJP in the country. Had the SP not made inflammatory statements against the BJP during 1990s, the saffron party, which had only two Lok Sabha MPs in 1984 Parliamentary Elections, would have been confined to the same status. 

JNN