Now Reading
Interview: Bhairon Singh Shekhawat

Interview: Bhairon Singh Shekhawat

‘Vasundhara Raje is arrogant and corrupt’
In the 1940s, police constable Bhairon Singh Shekhawat had only one thing in his mind – to settle the future of his 10 siblings. It took him four years to finish this task. He then left his job to become a founding member of the Jan Sangh, which evolved into the BJP. In the next 60 years, he advocated reforms like abolition of the Zamindari system and Sati in feudal Rajasthan and rose to be a top leader of hte Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), his high point coming in the elevation as India’s vice- President in 2002. In a conversation with NEHA DIXIT, Shekhawat questions why eyebrows are being raised if, he wants to return to active politics and contest elections to fight corruption.
Patriarch Shekhawat wants to end corruption
In the past few months, you have repeatedly attempted to distance yourself from the BJP. Why?
For the last six months, I have been researching corruption cases all over the world. In one of the Supreme Court’s judgement it is written [reads aloud] “Corruption… has been termed as royal thievery. The socio-political system exposed to such a dreaded communicable disease is likely to crumble under its own weight. It is opposed to democracy and social order, being not only antipeople, but aimed and targeted against them.” Now, you tell me, is it not my responsibility to talk about it? Particularly, after the Congress claimed that the Vasundhara Raje Government was party to a Rs 22,000 crore scam.
You were instrumental in bringing Vasundhara Raje from Madhya Pradesh to Rajasthan. You don’t trust her now?I accept my mistake. I did introduce her to Rajasthan, but I was not the only one. There were others, too, who selected her. But I had never dreamt in my life that she will turn out to be like this.
Like what?Arrogant and corrupt.
Apart from the Congress’s allegations, do you yourself have any evidence of this?I will reveal that when required.
It is alleged that you are upset with her because she did not give tickets to your people.
That’s not true. I have never asked her for anything in the last five years. I am not that incapable that I need to beg her for that. I have thought well before raising the issue of corruption against her.
Why didn’t you raise it within the party?
That I can’t tell.
So, according to you, what is it that is actually ailing the BJP today?
Corruption is the main problem. I will not tolerate it at any cost. I will expose all those who are involved. It is all over. I will soon meet all the leaders in various political parties to end this.
Do you mean that the current leadership in the BJP has failed to fight against corruption?I don’t want to comment. Why don’t you ask them?
You recently said that if Atal Bihari Vajpayee was around, things would have been better.
I haven’t ever said this. But isn’t it obvious that if Vajpayeeji was around, then only he would have been the Prime Ministerial candidate. Then there would have been no confusion.
Stumped Shekhawat’s stand has stunned the BJP
So the idea of LK Advani as the PM candidate makes you uncomfortable?
See, I go for tea and dinner to Advani’s place every week. Such is our relationship. There is no problem between us. His leadership is unquestionable. The hype is all media-created.
NCP’s Sharad Pawar has asked all political parties to support you.
Sharad Pawar will be my friend, whether he says anything or not. Tell me one thing, can’t I contest a Lok Sabha election after all these years? Why are there so many questions on this? I haven’t even decided on it yet. I’ll tell you how it started. I went to Kota after a period of one-and-a-half years to attend a friend’s funeral. The people there asked me to contest from there. It is then that I told them that I will contest elections only if my health permits. Since then the tale spinning hasn’t stopped.
You have friends in all political parties. You have been the local guardian of Lalu Prasad’s daughters. Won’t your campaign against corruption upset your friends?
Don’t call all my friends corrupt. That’s not true. People are not corrupt. Corruption prevails at the foundation and needs to be eliminated from the roots.
How do you plan to fight it? I have a plan, which I will implement at the right time. Elections are important for fighting it. If I contest elections, I can raise it in the Lok Sabha.
But elections are also the fountainhead of corruption. Don’t you agree?
That’s precisely my point. There has to be strictness. If you stop me seriously when I am indulging, and I don’t stop, subject me to dire consequences. Then I will stop. In today’s scenario, money power and casteism have taken over political parties. These two have made political parties irrelevant. The greed for votes needs to be ended. Everybody wants money. According to reports, Rs 1 crore has been spent on a single Vidhan Sabha seat. So some are holding strings with the help of money and some are using casteism for the same. These days, parties can’t decide who to give tickets without using these yardsticks. They will first calculate how many votes a candidate will get from each caste or how much money he can spend. I will soon write about the condition of elections and if all this is not controlled in time, it will have disastrous consequences for democracy.
You are known to take decisive and progressive positions. What is your vision of the future?I am with the poor and the unemployed of the country. To uplift them, development of the villages is required. However, the thing that pains me the most is poverty. It disturbs the balance of my mind because I have faced it, I know what it is like. Which is why, during my tenure as the Chief Minister in Rajasthan, I introduced Antyodaya (Food for Work) scheme. NREGA is based onAntyodaya. They have just changed the name and subjected it to extreme corruption. Just a look at the audit reports. But I must say that the Union Minister for Rural Development, Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, is himself an honest man. He is very upset because of this. Now you will ask why are you praising a non- BJP member. But facts are fact.
Senior BJP leaders like Rajnath Singh have said that those who have taken a dip in the Ganges should not think of taking a dip in the well. Why do you want to get back to active politics after serving as the Vice-President?
Firstly, Rajnath probably misunderstood my stand. But I still say that whatever he said was wrong. He should have spoken to me before making public statements. Secondly, I have always been involved with people. In 1961, Ram Vyas was the Home Minister in Rajasthan. I used to go on foot to Vidhan Sabha. Once, on my way, I met a woman who was crying. When I asked her why, she told me that a police official had raped her. I asked her to wait and went to the Vidhan Sabha. After the question hour got over I gave a report to the Home Minister about the incident. Ten days later I asked him what had been done about it. He told me he had deducted a rupee every month from the police officer’s salary. I became annoyed and asked him if that was a licence fee to rape a woman. That day I swore that I will defeat him in the elections. I contested from the same constituency as Vyas and defeated him by a margin of 9,000 votes. That’s the way to weed out inefficient people. As Vice-President, my public life was controlled. My state was like that of a journalist who has been asked to sit in a temple and chant mantras. I want to contest for the service of people and not politics.
Which constituency and on which party’s ticket will you contest from?Talks are on. I haven’t decided as yet.
According to you, who has been the ideal PM till date?No one in 60 years.
[email protected]


From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 6, Issue 3, Dated Jan 24, 2009
View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

© 2019 Issue Magazine Wordpress Theme. All Rights Reserved.

Scroll To Top