Grid failure is a technical issue; it fails sometimes. It never happened in 10 years but it had to go that very day, says Sushil Kumar Shinde. (File photo)
Sonia is my leader and I am her soldier, Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde tells The New Indian Express Editorial Director Prabhu Chawla during Teekhi Baat on IBN 7. Excerpts:
You were doing such good work in the power ministry. You added 55,000 MW of generation capacity. Why did they make you home minister?
I came to the power ministry in 2006; I am very thankful to Sonia Gandhiji and Dr Manmohan Singhji for giving me a critical infrastructure department. When I took charge, 1.20 lakh MW electricity used to be produced in the country, and today 2.06 lakh MW of electricity is being produced. In 11th plan we added 55,000 MW, which never happened in this country.
More than half of the country was in darkness the day you became home minister.
True. Grid failure is a technical issue; it fails sometimes. It never happened in 10 years but it had to go that very day. The grid failed in North America in 2003, there was no power for four days, our Power Grid chairman helped them on request. Here the grid failed after a gap of 10 years. I cancelled my Tirupati meeting of the consultative committee; 40 MPs were sitting there, I told them my priority was to go to Delhi and attend to the issue there. I came here, and when a mediaperson called me, I told him power supply will be restored in two hours, and we did it. We resumed train services at 9 am on the first day. On the second day too, the failure happened at 1 pm and we resumed services by 3 pm and by 6 pm, 80 per cent power supply was restored. I have appointed a probe committee of top people to look into this issue. The result will come, but such things do happen sometimes. But people who dish out opinions should also understand that 1.6 lakh villages never had power supply till 2006.
Do you think the media has been unfair to you?
No, I would not say that. It is the right of the media to find fault. But I am happy that you understand the work I have done. I am very thankful to you.
Why did Sonia make you the home minister?
I do not know but they would have seen something in me, they would have seen my past record, how have I worked and have served here. I will praise the Gandhi gharana because when Rajiv Gandhi became Prime Minister, his home minister was Buta Singhji, a Dalit—he was the first Dalit home minister. And today under Sonia Gandhiji and Manmohan Singhji, Congress has made a Dalit the home minister.
But why don’t they make a Dalit the finance minister?
I have been finance minister nine times in Maharashtra. We are very thankful and grateful for giving Dalits such opportunity. Sonia Gandhiji and Dr Manmohan Singhji have that will.
Was Sushil Kumar Shinde made home minister because he is a Dalit or because he is a good minister?
No, one thing cannot happen, they would have seen a combination of both. They may have seen my work as Maharashtra chief minister, governor, what work I have done and a combination of all. They have not appointed me just because I am a Dalit.
But your opponents as well as friends say that you were made home minister because you are a sycophant.
We are sycophants because only that one family, the Gandhi family, thinks about Dalits, minorities, backward classes and adivasis.
That is why you are sycophant.
Yes, what is true cannot be hidden.
Like you, Giani Zail Singh was a good friend of mine, I asked him one question when he was on to become president, he told me that ‘Prabhu Chawla, say whatever you want, if Gandhi parivaar or Indira Gandhi tells me to sweep the floor, I will do even that.’ That was the commitment.
Now a man on his way to be president says that he will do what Indiraji says, from that it should be known, we are from Dalit community, even he was from backward class…
From this one should know the contribution of the Gandhi family towards uplifting these classes.
Even you are saying that you will follow what the Gandhi parivaar says.
Our leader is so intelligent, talented and understanding, knows fully what work has to be given to whom.
The sweeping statement is symbolic, but does it mean you will do anything they say?
Please see, she is our leader, if a soldier does not listen to a leader then how would things function.
So you are Soniaji’s soldier.
When she says shoot, you will shoot
Yes, but our leader will never give a wrong order, she will do so only after giving it a great deal of thought.
She has given so many guns in your hand that you have become a threat to the nation.
No, it is not like that.
Because you will shoot on their order, at the Opposition.
No, not at all, I have seen them very closely, she always says that a country should be run by understanding that even the Opposition is part of the family.
Even the earlier home minister was very efficient, he controlled terrorism, but he was not political, you are more political, you smile, mix readily, and speak to everybody.
He is also political and very talented, the path and the roadmap that he laid down…
Will you go to Pakistan?
Why not, and we will call them over too. Pakistan was our brother.
But we were partitioned. It seems you have complete trust in Pakistan.
They will have to be told how expensive terrorism is.
Chidambaram had said that there is saffron terror also. Do you think to colour terrorism, that it is green, saffron, yellow and red is okay?
I feel that there is some meat in what he said, but even with regards to that, I will go in depth first.
You feel that saffron terrorism is there in this country…
I have just started, I will have to see all this.
Would you be a minister for Rahul in the next government?
I would surely want to work under Rahulji because I see him in the place of Rajivji. And not from today, even before he came to politics.
Do you think he would work under Rahul?
We will see when the time comes
Will you review decisions of Chidambaram saab, which were seen by some as a threat to federalism?
I will speak to Chidambaram, he is very intelligent, and a law expert. I will take his suggestion on this issue.
Who is your leader, Sonia Gandhi or the Prime Minister?
Both are my leaders
Who is first?
Both are my leaders.
Both are political leaders
Our party leader is Sonia Gandhiji, and see such a big sacrifice she has done, when she had the opportunity to become Prime Minister, she said, no, Dr. Saab will become. And that to Dr. Saab from minority, she has done this sacrifice, then what is she if not a leader.