Jitendra Singh: High time PDP announced its leader

Neelu Vyas

MoS-Jitendra-Singh-interviewIn an exclusive interview to Rajya Sabha TV, Minister of State for the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Dr Jitendra Singh broke the government’s silence on the issue of government formation in Jammu and Kashmir. Singh clearly said that the BJP was not responsible for the present logjam in the state and that it was high time that the PDP announced its leader for the post of Chief Minister.

Singh also trashed the Opposition’s view that BJP was an anti-Dalit party in the wake of Rohith Vemula case in Hyderabad. He accused the Opposition of trying to tarnish the government’s image by calling it anti-Dalit.

On the Pathankot terror attack, Singh denied all claims that the NSG was given an upper hand in the operation instead of the Army. He called the operation a success and said that its biggest achievement was that it prevented a bigger casualty.

Here are the excerpts from the interview:

Lot has been said about the way PMO runs under Narendra Modi. What is the biggest USP of the present PMO?

The NDA has finally restored PMO’s esteem. UPA had devalued the PMO.

Don’t you run the risk of facing criticism like the PMO is authoritarian and dictatorial?

The power is not centralised in the PMO. The PMO was not seen in true perspective. It was PM Modi who encouraged out of the box ideas.

What is happening on the cabinet reshuffle front?

I am ignorant about impending reshuffle. It’s the prime minister’s prerogative and therefore I would not like to comment on it.

Why is there an intriguing silence between BJP and PDP post Mufti Saheb’s death?

One cannot blame BJP for the J&K impasse. The Governor’s rule has been imposed due to the present logjam. It’s high time that PDP names its leader for the post of CM.

Will you accept Mehbooba as the chief minister?

There has been no formal anointment of her as PDP leader as yet. BJP and PDP do have ideological differences but growth is the common agenda. J&K must be a part of the growth journey.

Rohith Vemula’s suicide on the campus of Hyderabad Central University has projected BJP as an anti-Dalit party?

The Opposition is trying to tarnish the government. The PM has condoled Vemula’s death. In fact this government has come out with so many schemes which are aimed at improving the weaker sections of the society. We cannot be called anti-Dalit.

Why is the Opposition raking up this issue?

Things are being blown out of proportion because of the upcoming polls. But the voter is becoming wiser by the day. Growth continues to remain the top agenda and the youth has prioritised development over other issues.

Analysts feel Vemula’s death could impact polls in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab where Dalit population forms a sizable chunk?

Polls are influenced by many factors. Dalits are convinced by the government’s sincerity. There is nothing to hide in the Vemula case. Even the analysts are generalists.

Moving on to the Pathankot air base attack, it seemed like a botched up operation. Was it?

The Forces did a commendable job. It was a misconception that the Army was not given an upper hand when compared to NSG. There was certainly a lack of communication which the government will find out.

Despite an aggressive foreign policy, your government’s policy towards Pakistan remains very unclear?

India remains positive towards Pakistan. We need to be friendly with our neighbours but terror and talk cannot go together. In case of a terror attack we need to be firm in demanding action. And if need be, we will go the extra mile to establish a connect.

(You can watch the entire interview on the programme To The Point at 10.30 pm on Monday, only on Rajya Sabha TV)