‘Mosquito bites irritate, but one does not run after them’
By Prabhu Chawla | Published: 11th November 2012 12:07 AM |
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid speaks to The New Indian Express Editorial Director Prabhu Chawla on diplomacy, Arvind Kejriwal, Pakistan, black money and a host of other issues during Teekhi Baat on IBN7. Excerpts:
Earlier you were law minister; you used to defend the government well. But the language has to be changed for diplomacy. So, will the language remain the same or change now?
The use of language depends upon the responsibility given to the person.
Will you do less teekhi baat now?
Will do less teekhi baat now, even if my mind is teekha over some issue. You know how diplomatic language is.
Arvind Kejriwal again has alleged that your government compromises on sovereignty; foreign banks decide policies here. Don’t you think your credibility is falling and it is difficult to defend when Kejriwal levels allegations?
There is no need to defend everything. Sometimes people start killing themselves. They are themselves getting exposed and the reality is coming to light; let that happen. We don’t have fewer resources to give right and spicy replies. The answers to questions raised by Digvijaya Singh have not been received as yet. Till his questions are not answered, I don’t think they have right to say anything.
Kejriwal commented that the party is in Ambani’s pocket; no action is taken against them. There is corporate control over government.
There is no corporate control over government. Then wouldn’t there be an all-round feeling that the corporate sector is very happy with us? Even from them we get to hear questions.
From such people who have nothing to do with the government?
Before levelling allegations against corporate, first let them tell how much money they have got from corporate. News is trickling out whether that money has been deployed rightfully or wrongfully. We are told that whatever policy decisions we take, we should take that issue to all the panchayats in the country, and take their opinion whether we should go ahead with it or not. I want to ask, before they took money from corporate, did they ask people in villages whether they should take money from someone, from this foreign person. Where should we spend this money?
Do you mean to say that team Kejriwal is as tainted as you?
I don’t say we are tainted; there may be possibility of some mistake in our functioning.
They said that you did not investigate Mukesh Ambani. You should put HSBC staff in jail.
Who are we to investigate? There is a criminal procedure code, IPC, FEMA, banking laws, authorities, courts, adjudicatory bodies. Now the bodies under whose jurisdiction these issues are, they have right to ask questions, take appropriate action.
But the government did not reply to the allegations made by them.
Why would the government reply to them? It replies to Parliament.
In the whole campaign, Kejriwal is listened to because he has credibility and people think he says the truth.
We don’t think people think it is the truth. We are among people, we have seen who people trust.
Don’t you agree that their credibility is more than yours?
We don’t. Thousands and lakhs of time, it will be tested and the truth would be known.
Kejriwal also alleged that black money is being allowed to come via FDI and FII route.
We earlier made many attempts to convert black money into white. We gave exemptions, told people if they get unaccounted money from abroad, questions would not be asked. Pay tax on it up to a limit and get that money back and use it, because in our country, we needed crores to be pumped in.
Which means you will tell all the thieves who took away money to come back. But you raid poor people.
It is not so; when action is taken against poor people, it is taken into consideration whether the act was committed due to helplessness.
Small tax evaders are caught, the ones who took away `25 lakh crore are not taxed.
Wherever it is possible, we act. We cannot send army abroad to do this work.
But you can close accounts, like HSBC was given notice by America for doing wrong things.
HSBC in India has done no wrong thing.
As foreign minister, you have to deal with Pakistan, and you allowed the players to come, BCCI to make money, ads will come and Pakistani players will take home some dollars. Then the terrorists from there will come and start killing.
We will not allow terrorists to come.
Recently, the home minister said that there are people in Pakistan who are shielding people and not helping us. Do you agree with him? Are things state-sponsored?
We cannot say we got full co-operation from Pakistan; we hope that we will get co-operation on the path we are going.
You agree with the home minister’s statement.
Certainly, we speak to each other.
Even after that the Prime Minister says he will go to Pakistan, and provide legitimacy.
The Prime Minister has received an invitation.
Every year it comes; it is a formality. You invite, they also invite.
But the Prime Minister has not taken any decision as of now. What decision the PM will take will be well thought-out.
You mean to say that the PM has not taken a decision on his visit.
When the decision is taken, we will tell you. Such decisions cannot be hidden.
Kejriwal can spoil your politics; they can spoil your economic system.
Sometimes a mosquito bites; one feels irritation, but this does not mean that a person who is reading a book, speaking to someone, doing some work will leave that and run behind the mosquito. That will be wrong.
You mean you just get minor irritation.
I used to, now I don’t even get that.