India may have rapist as PM, fears Gujral

SANDESH PRABHUDESAI, PANAJI | 28 December 1997 10:03 IST

"If the existing trend of criminals hijacking the political scene in the country continues, then India may also have a rapist prime minister tomorrow", fears India’s outgoing prime minister Inder Kumar Gujral.

It’s a matter of concern, he says, that defections are being accelerated on the eve of elections and notorious, criminal and corrupt elements are being encouraged into active politics.

Ending his three-day holiday in Goa, Gujral addressed a public reception accorded to him by the local freedom fighters today morning, before leaving back to the national capital. He appealed to consciously foil the attempts, in the coming elections, of criminals running the country.

Taking the whole audience on a sentimental note by asking them whether they had dreamt of such India where criminals would be our ministers and rulers, he said : Yeh chunav nahi, chunouti hai (it’s not a mere election but a challenge).

Obviously, the Bharatiya Janata Party was not spared. "Those who broke temples or masjids are now telling the people to forget the past. Be careful of them", he cautioned.

However, he later on declined to comment on increasing support for a BJP-led government coming to power. "I believe people who believe in secularism and unity of the country would come to power", he said.

The country is being weakened on the lines of caste, religion, communities and regions. It’s not a question which party comes to power, but whom do we elect to rule us, says Gujral. At a crucial juncture, he stresses more upon a new thought process than mere party politics.

He also hold the Congress responsible for stalling the process of establishing value-based politics in the country. "We wanted to bring total transparency through amendments to the anti-defection act and new legislations regarding right to information and Lok Pal. But they did not allow us", he charges.

Commenting on the infighting between the UF and the Congress, he said running the country is not a game between two persons. "They should have very well resolved the differences after these bills were passed", he added.

He firmly believes that coalition government has come to stay in India, may it be led by any party. "Days of one-party rule are over", he reiterates. 

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Lok Sabha '98