Ahead of the Assembly polls in Punjab, the Congress suffered a big setback as former Law Minister Ashwani Kumar quit the party.
“Having given my thoughtful consideration to the matter, I have concluded that in the present circumstances and consistent with my dignity, I can best subserve larger national causes outside the party-fold.
“I am accordingly quitting the party after a long association of 46 years and hope to proactively pursue public causes inspired by the idea of transformative leadership, based on the dignitarian promise of a liberal democracy envisioned by our freedom fighters,” he added
“While paying my respectful regards, I thank you for the consideration extended to me in the past and wish you a good health in the years ahead,” he said in his resignation letter.
Ashwani Kumar had served as the Minister of Law and Justice and a Minister of State in the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion and Ministry of Commerce and Industry during the Congress-led UPA. He was appointed one of the Additional Solicitor Generals of India in 1991.
Ashwani Kumar targeted Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and claimed that the party’s defeat in the state in the February 20 Assembly polls is certain.
Ashwani Kumar, who was perceived as a loyalist of the Gandhi family and had supported against the ‘G23’, said it was getting difficult to continue in the party. He also said he is open to join any other party.
Here are excerpts of the interview.
Q. After being so long in the Congress, you have decided to quit now. Why?
A. I was feeling uncomfortable, helpless and ignored for the last many months and I understood that now I am not needed in the party. Therefore, I distanced myself. I was not able to do whatever I wanted to do by staying inside the party. That’s why I decided to fulfil my duty and now I can do what I feel comfortable to do.
Q. You tried to keep your point on the party platform. Were all those points ignored?
A. What is the platform of the party now… I tried to tell them (the top leadership) in my own way, but indication was clear that I am not needed in the party. I gave a lot of thought to this and came to the decision that according to the current circumstances and my limitations, it would be better for me to break away from the party and work in the national interest on a larger scale.
Q. Is everything going well in the Congress in Punjab? You have indicated that result will be shocking.
A. I have been involved in the work of party organisation in the campaign of Punjab for many weeks and from what I have seen on the ground, it seems that the Aam Aadmi Party is moving ahead there with a huge majority.
Q. Why do you feel that Congress is losing in Punjab?
A. Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi says he is from a poor family, then how come he has Rs 10-12 crore in his house. So the definition of poverty has changed in the eyes of the Congress, especially for Channi. Now let’s see how many people in Punjab have Rs 10-12 crore in their homes. Those who have so much money will definitely vote Congress. Congress is being made fun of in Punjab. Apart from two-three leaders, no one has done anything for the party. It is beyond my understanding how such an old party will move forward in such circumstances. As far as I understand, Congress is losing elections in Punjab and Aam Aadmi Party is winning hands down. In rural areas, where once Akali Dal, Congress dominated, new candidates are getting support.
Q. You were in the Congress for about 46 years and were also the Union Law Minister. Now that you have resigned, what advice would you give to the Congress?
A. This is not my duty to give advice. Now I will do politics on my own strength, will write my own destiny because today the country needs politics that connects people.
Q. Have you thought of joining other party?
A. I have not given any thought so far, but no party is untouchable. It is also not right to hold Prime Minister Narendra Modi responsible for every shortcoming in the country. I have always believed that ideas should be fought, not persons.
Q. Will you go to BJP like Jitin Prasada, Jyotiraditya Scindia and R.P.N. Singh or with Aam Aadmi Party?
A. I said earlier that no decision has been taken yet in this regard, nor have I talked to the BJP or the AAP. I have met (AAP chief) Arvind Kejriwal and (West Nemgal Chief Minister) Mamata Banerjee also. I have good relations with all the leaders but have not decided yet. (IANS)