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‘Said what I had to': Salman Khurshid on his Rahul Gandhi ‘walked away' remark

Hindustan Times logo Hindustan Times 4 days ago Amrita Madhukalya
© AP Photo/Allauddin Khan, File

Senior Congressman and former union minister Salman Khurshid has caused a flutter after he was quoted as saying that former Congress president Rahul Gandhi “walking away” from the party’s responsibilities at a time when there are three Assembly elections can cost the party dearly. A day later, he told reporters that his quote has been twisted to sensationalise the issue. Edited excerpts of an interview with Hindustan Times:

You have been quoted saying that Rahul Gandhi leaving the party during a crucial time has caused a flutter. But you say you have been misquoted. Can you please tell us what did you say at the event yesterday?

I will not say anything more about it; I said what I had to. If people don’t understand, I just pity them. I’m very sorry for people who do not understand what I said. If I have said anything wrong, just point out to me: If it is wrong, I will correct it.

The idea that the party’s prospects in the election going states has dimmed with Rahul Gandhi away from action is not entirely untrue.

Who knows, he may come back. And we will all be there; I am going to campaign and so will a bunch of senior party leaders. We are all determined. It doesn’t matter if it is a tough election. We will fight and fight vigorously and that’s not a problem. The best that we can do in these circumstances, we will do. Some timely steps have been taken and whatever is necessary will be taken, too. I’m not sure why people are concerned about how we will fight. That’s our concern, we will fight vigorously.

During the same event, you spoke about Article 370, an issue where the party is yet to see common ground across its ranks.

I had said that Article 370 has to be understood in the context of a pact we have with the people of Jammu and Kashmir. That is a historical context which cannot be ignored. But be that as it may, Article 370 is another issue. Federalism is a greater issue and it requires that sentiments of the people in a democratic way, reducing a state to a Union Territory is no way of respecting democracy. But ultimately, the people are the judges and they will have to decide. And when we say people, it means all people, it can’t be selectively some. And whatever our convictions are about Kashmir, about secularism, about the state of the economy or about national defence, the convictions that we, in a persuasive manner, must place before the people of India and I’m sure the people of India will endorse our positions.

What does the party plan to stem a high rate of attrition in the last few days and build itself organisationally?

That is what I had flagged when I spoke at yesterday’s event: Time is short and we need to do something and do it immediately. We must do it like it had to be done yesterday. People who had left are people who got most from the Congress and it is such a sad and pitiable thing. There are many more people like me who will not leave the Congress and will remain here no matter how adverse our circumstances are, I do believe that in the end we will succeed and those who have left will fail.

There seems to be no action from the party leadership, almost bordering on nonchalance on these people leaving.

The situations are such that we cannot take punitive action; we need to sit down people and convince our people. The party needs to sit down and strategise a way to stop the attrition. And even after that, those who got a lot from the party, want to leave, then they should. It is unfortunate, but the party has loyal people who will stay come what may.

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