The Congress and the BJP may have myriad discordant notes though, both the national parties share one thing common—the crisis of next Prime Ministerial candidate. The stand-off between the high-ups of the ruling dispensation, Pranab Mukherjee and Chidambaram, over the leaking of Finance Ministry’s missive regarding 2G spectrum scam that hit hornet’s nest has given another stinging blow to the Congress-led UPA government which is already crippling with its battered image owing to strings of scams and scandals.

Leaving no chance to corner the Congress-led government on every issue, the Bharatiya Janata Party is trying to settle its score with public disenchantment over misgovernance, corruption and price hike. With the announcement of the BJP stalwart LK Advani that the nation should be prepared for snap polls and many states going to elections, the talk is going on who could be next Prime Minister. Reacting on the five questions put up before the spokespersons of both the parties by Dainik Jagran, BJP’s Ravi Shankar Prasad says his party has several potential candidates for the PM post, while Rashid Alvi from the Congress chips in with his firm stand that people want a secular leader. Excerpts:

The 2G spectrum scam has generated much fire, the heat of which has reached the Prime Minister. Do you think PM’s role in this matter should come under scanner?

Ravi Shankar: The ministers of the UPA government are involved in the scam. Few ministers are in jail while some of them are still scot free. But, there are certain questions which need to be answered by the Prime Minister only. In 2003, the Cabinet had decided that the price of 2G spectrum will be mutually fixed by the Telecom Ministry and the Finance Ministry, then why did the Prime Minister hand over the task to Telecom Ministry alone?
If A Raja had misguided the PM, why didn’t he investigate the matter at his own level? Why didn’t the then Finance Minister P Chidambaram discount the suggestions made by his officials?

Rashid Alvi: Policies and corruption are two different things. Policies were formulated for people’s welfare and they got benefitted from them as well. The CAG in its report has stated that the target which was meant to be achieved by the end of 11-Five Year Plan has been accomplished two years before the stipulated time. The entire 2G spectrum issue is in the Supreme Court and it will pronounce its observation.

People claiming themselves as whistleblower in the cash-for-vote scam are going to jail. But why is the government, which gained from it, not facing any probe?

Ravi Shankar: See, this is one of the biggest examples to shield corruption. The Delhi Police which took no action for long suddenly woke up to the Supreme Court’s flak. The beneficiary was the government whereas Amar Singh was not in the power. The BJP parliamentarians exposed this scam. What comes as a surprise is that the matter is being probed but the one who gained out of the entire episode are not under scanner.
Also, the government which approved the Whistleblower Act is working against it. This bill is lying with the standing committee. Not only this, several sting operations have been reported in the past and people involved are not facing heat. Then why now?

Rashid Alvi: The BJP MPs brought money in the Lok Sabha. Neither was there a need for their votes nor did they support the government. The court has sent two MPs and BJP senior leader’s aide Sudheendra Kulkarni to jail. How can one oppose the court’s decision? Advani himself has stated about the sting operation in the matter. It is also clear that the BJP conspired to destabilise the government.

The BJP is analyzing possibilities for mid-term elections. And at the same time, speculations are rife that the Congress is talking for changing the guard. Is Congress scion Rahul Gandhi a contender for the PM post?

Ravi Shankar: This has to be answered by the Congress as who will it field as PM candidate in 2014 polls- Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi or Pranab Mukherjee. There are many potential candidates in the BJP for the key post and the Parliamentary Board will decide the name, when time comes.

Rashid Alvi: Rahul Gandhi is not confined to the party rather he is the leader of the nation. The PM is very much there and discharging his duty flawlessly. A far as the BJP is concerned, they simply struggle but never can achieve. The BJP should ponder over the fact that in 68 years, it managed to come to power with forging the alliance of 28 parties. The nation gave Vajpayee another chance, but the country wants only a secular leader.

Advani’s yatra is BJP’s one, which would be flagged off Nitish Kumar. Is this the fallout of the party’s infighting or the Opposition’s strategy?

Ravi Shankar: Nitish Kumar and the BJP are sharing a bond for the past 18 years and both of them have fought many Assembly and Lok Sabha elections together. We are happy that he is with us and giving the green signal for the yatra.

Rashid Alvi: Advani’s yatras have never fulfilled their objectives. The objective of the yatras diverts from the contents of his speeches. This time he is banking on corruption plank. Well, this episode wouldn’t have been completed without Laxman, Dilip Singh, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Yeddyurappa and Reddy Brothers. If Advani is serious about corruption, he should roll out his yatra in Karnataka


What will be the impact of movements by Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev?

Ravi Shankar: The BJP has always elevated matters pertaining to corruption and black money. If they are raised by someone else, people’s support is natural. This year in May, the Central government had vowed to fight against the graft, but nothing happened. The BJP’s fight is for the country and common people.

Rashid Alvi: The BJP workers were behind Ramdev’s movement whereas the RSS was involved in Anna Hazare’s crusade. The Congress or the government is unscathed. The nation wants to know how come a yoga guru like Ramdev possesses Rs 1100 crore assets?

JPN/ Bureau