‘Jethmalani is not a spokesperson of the BJP’

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BJP spokesman Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi tells Kunal Majumder the Congress has failed in its bid to tarnish Modi’s image

Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi
Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi
Photo: Shailendra Pandey

Did Ram Jethmalani have the BJP’s sanction when he claimed that the bribe money in the cash-for-votes scandal came from the party? (Jethmalani later claimed that he was quoting his client, Amar Singh.)
One thing is very clear. Whatever Jethmalani has said is as a lawyer. He is not a spokesperson of the BJP.

But what about his assessment? He says that as LK Advani has admitted to giving the go-ahead for the sting, the bribe money may have come from the BJP itself.
Yes, the whole party confessed that we knew about the sting. The Congress was trying to buy votes in the interest of the nuclear deal. The BJP felt that the Congress’ ugly face must be exposed in front of the people. Along with the dignity of Parliament, Congress was trying to harm democracy. For the first time in the history of Indian democracy, the norms and rules were ignored for the interest of a foreign country. As a responsible political party, it was our duty to expose such forces that are involved in dirty games.

But the allegation is that the BJP MPs tried to entrap themselves and then cried foul.
No, that is not the case. They were approached before as well. They were never bought. They exposed. They are whistleblowers. If they had already been bought, why did they expose the Congress in Parliament? If they wanted to play some game, it wouldn’t have been possible under such circumstances. They wanted to show India and the world that there are honest people in our Parliament.

Time and again, we have seen Jethmalani contradicting the BJP’s official position. Doesn’t that hurt the party’s image?
We have never said that Jethmalani is our spokesperson.

But he is a BJP MP.
Basically, he is a lawyer and he has his own views. I don’t want to go into the details. He has his own style.

Will the BJP take action against him? If not, is it because he is defending Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case?
Frankly I don’t know. He’s a different type of a personality.

In the Ehsan Jafri case, the SC has asked the trial court in Ahmedabad to hear the petition against Gujarat CM Narendra Modi. So how do you interpret it as your victory?
In the past 60 years, there have been more than 50,000 riots in this country. Lots of innocent people have been killed. Most of the communal riots have taken place in Congress-ruled states. If you start demanding the hanging of chief ministers of the states where there were communal riots, then there will be no end to this matter.

But how are you calling the SC’s decision a victory?
Victory or defeat is not the issue. The issue is that for the past few years, the Congress has been branding Modi as the culprit. They called him a ‘killer’ and ‘maut ka saudagar’. Despite all this, every section of Gujarat, including Muslims, voted Modi to power. The Congress and so-called secular forces have created a lot of confusion in the country. The SC’s observation has clarified on all these issues.

Will the BJP project Modi as a prime ministerial candidate in the next Lok Sabha election?
Modi has always played a large role in the party. He has been our star campaigner in every election. Of course, his first responsibility is as the chief minister of Gujarat. As far as his responsibility at the Centre is concerned, the party will take that decision when the time comes.

Kunal Majumder is a Senior Correspondent with Tehelka. 
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