Will continue to support the right causes of Congress and be an independent voice if the causes are not right: Kapil Sibal

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Will continue to support the right causes of Congress and be an independent voice if the causes are not right: Kapil Sibal
Will continue to support the right causes of Congress and be an independent voice if the causes are not right: Kapil Sibal

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The National Herald case is a bogus case as assets can never be transferred to the Gandhis, says the lawyer who once defended them

The National Herald case is a bogus case as assets can never be transferred to the Gandhis, says the lawyer who once defended them

Once among the most visible faces of the Manmohan Singh government, former Union Minister Kapil Sibal transformed into a trenchant critic of the Congress leadership under the Gandhis before quietly bowing out. In his first interview after being elected independent member of the Rajya Sabha, Mr. Sibal talks about his new role, plans to bring the Opposition parties together but stayed away from discussing the Congress. Edited excerpts:

How is your new role going to be different from your previous ones, both inside Parliament as well as outside?

The fact that I am not a member of a political party itself defines my role for the future. I will be independent within the House and my views will be consistent with my ideology which has been central to my articulation on any particular subject. I am opposed to the ideology of the present establishment and that will continue. I am also opposed to the present dispensation which is targeting individuals through agencies of the government. I have a much broader canvas to work on because I am free to connect with leaders. It’s a very tough task, but along with other like-minded people, I hope to bring all Opposition parties on one platform. The other significant thing about being an independent member is that on every contentious issue, I can articulate my independent view.

Some of your former colleagues in the Congress have criticized you and claimed the G23 (the group that called internal reforms in the Congress) was all about a Rajya Sabha berth.

Well, first of all, I never asked for the Rajya Sabha seat from the Congress. They can check from the leadership of the party if I ever sought any sort of Rajya Sabha seat in the upcoming elections. Number two, I could have joined another party. I didn’t have to say that I would come to Parliament as an independent candidate. Of course, people have the right to criticize but I don’t think the leadership of the Congress party has made any such comment.

Given your strong views earlier, your parting was a rather mellow affair.

There is no parting because my ideology remains the same. It’s no parting at all. And I will continue to support the right causes of the Congress party and be an independent voice, if the causes are not right. That is true of all political parties.

But you have formerly quit the Congress?

Yes, I did.

So what triggered that parting? It seems Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav was willing to support on a Congress ticket as well.

That’s entirely personal and I don’t want to air any public views on matters which are entirely personal. What happened in the past are not matters for public discourse.

Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that he wanted a strong Opposition but the main Opposition party, the Congress, seems to be hurtling from one crisis to another.

If Modi ji means what he says, then he should walk the talk. I ask our Prime Minister why is it that every major political leader in this country is being targeted by the Central agencies? None in the BJP is being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate [ED] or Income Tax or the CBI [Central Bureau of Investigation]. So when you say that you want to a strong Opposition, you must also not use your agencies for political motives, destabilize governments and destroy majorities by misusing the provisions of the 10th Schedule and the Governors. If you want a strong Opposition, you should not be capturing institutions through which only your narrative flows to the people of this country or corner 80-90% of your financial resources through electoral bonds. My only request to the Prime Minister is: if you genuinely want a strong Opposition, then be more democratic.

As far as the Congress is concerned, I do not comment on the internal function of another party. That’s why I am an independent voice. Within the Congress, I could do what I did but outside, I will never say anything against the internal functioning of a political party. I have no ill feeling, enmity or rancour against the Congress party.

As a lawyer, you had previously handled the National Herald case and must be aware that the ED has summoned Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi in a money laundering case. What are your thoughts on this?

This is a bogus case. How can a person be laundering money with the assets belonging to a non-profit company. That money under the law can never come to the Gandhis. So how could they ever be laundering money? I mean, it is absurd. Motivated prosecution is launched merely because somebody stands up to the BJP juggernaut. This is again inconsistent with the statement of the Prime Minister that he wants a strong Opposition.

In a recent interview, Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan thanked you for getting him bail but he seemed fairly unhappy with Akhilesh Yadav. So, every Opposition party seems to be facing some internal problems.

There are two parts to your question. So let me first address the part relating to Azam Khan and I just want to make one thing clear; that I have no previous association with him. Whenever I take up causes, it is because I feel deeply about the injustice done to the individual or to an organization or to even a community. When the facts came to light, it showed that 87 cases had been foisted on him; for something as frivolous as stealing a goat. Some incidents were of 2004, 2007, 2008 and we are in 2022. The Uttar Pradesh government started targeting him and 20-25 FIRs [First Information Reports] were lodged in the course of two days; at 1 o’clock at night, 2 o’clock at night. This happened immediately after he got elected to the Lok Sabha as a significant leader of his community.

As far as the relationship of Azam Khan within the party is concerned, who am I to comment on that. It is for the party to take care of its future and I am sure that things will work out.

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