Should the Maharashtra government be dismissed and do Maharashtrians have a raw deal in their own capital? Those are the two issues Karan Thapar raised with the senior-most leader of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel.
Karan Thapar: Two of your most senior leaders (in the UPA) have demanded dismissal of your government in Maharashtra. What’s your answer to Ram Vilas Paswan and Amar Singh?
Praful Patel: I don’t think dismissal of any government is that easy.
Karan Thapar: Is it warranted in the present circumstances?
Praful Patel: Of course not. I don’t see any reason to dismiss the government in Maharashtra.
Karan Thapar: So your allies are playing politics with you?
Praful Patel: It’s an emotive issue which they are facing, after all it concerns people from their state. In a democratic set up and the kind of polity we are seeing today, all these things happen every day.
Karan Thapar: So you’re saying Ram Vilas Paswan and Amar Singh don’t know what they are calling for?
Praful Patel: No, I’m not dismissing their concerns. I’m saying they have a valid reason to raise this issue.
Karan Thapar: What about the demand to at least change the Chief Minister. Your own CM’s Cabinet colleagues, such as Pratap Rane, are today publicly disenchanting his performance. Why don’t you change the CM then?
Praful Patel: Why should the CM or anybody else be changed? People who live in Mumbai are the only ones who know the situation on the ground. The entire issue is very sad and unfortunate. It should not be allowed to happen but at the same time saying that changing the CM is a valid solution—
Karan Thapar: For five days since Diwali, the CM as well Deputy CM have been out of Mumbai. They haven’t even been in the Capital. There’s a sense of fear and crisis, and they don’t see it as their moral responsibility to be in the seat of government to reassure people?
Praful Patel: I do not agree with you Karan. The fact is that they are in control of the situation. They don’t necessarily have to be on the streets of Mumbai. There’s a system, a police department, people in the government who are monitoring the situation through the clock. Why should this kind of a situation come up?
Karan Thapar: The Cabinet in Delhi is demanding from the PM to put pressure on Maharashtra government to at least agree to a magisterial enquiry. You, for the PM’s sake, accept the need for a magisterial enquiry?
Praful Patel: I am not in the Maharashtra government to answer every single question. The fact is that it’s within his moral authority of the PM, as the custodian of the entire nature, to ask the Maharashtra government about these issues.
Karan Thapar: What about the need for an enquiry to reassure the people that the police have not acted wrongly?
Praful Patel: Just look at the entire thing in sequence. Mr Raj Thackeray has been arrested in connection with particular cases. Eighty-eight cases in all are registered against him. He has gotten bail from the court. This is natural justice, which is available to each and every citizen of India.
The gentleman who was shot dead by the Mumbai police in an encounter in that bus was holding many innocent people hostage and it’s all on television camera.
Karan Thapar: There is a sense of anger in UP and Bihar. People are demanding an enquiry to clear the air. If you are convinced that your police have acted properly, hold the enquiry and exonerate them. Why deny that demand? Is the government open to the possibility of a magisterial enquiry?
Read Remaining Conversation @ IBN Live.com