There must be balance between growth and people’s concern : Rahul Gandhi

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25 April 2009
Everybody sensed that you are trying to put the politics of this country at a new level, taking into a new dimension. But at the same time, critics would say that you come from a family which still has the shadow of Bofors and Sikh riots lurking behind you. Are you willing to apologies for this?
Rahul Gandhi: There is absolutely nothing that I have to apologies about Bofors. It is a complete lie. It is a lie that has been used by the opposition for 20 years. So I have absolutely nothing to apologies about.
Q. We want to have your views about LTTE and the demand for extradition of Prabhakaran?
Rahul Gandhi: I have already said that three times, in different parts of India. LTTE is branded as a terrorist organization. They have been responsible for killing my father. Personally I am not a very big supporter of LTTE. I had pointed out earlier that the rights of innocent people are sacrosanct. They are not to be touched. So when it comes to protecting the rights of Tamil civilians in Srilanka, I personally am certain that it is of prime importance.
Q On third front
Rahul Gandhi: Once election results are out, all these discussion will be held. Prior to the election results being out, everything being said is hypothetical. One can carry on this hypothetical discussion forever. As far as I am concerned, once the elections are over, let's see what comes out of it.
Q. On free & fair elections
Rahul Gandhi: I think I will pass that question on to Pranabji because I was only there for one day. It will not be fair for me to comment on free and fair elections. I hope people working here might have a better idea…
Pranab Mukharjee: Holding free and fair elections is the responsibility of the election commission. It is not the responsibility of any government. Article 304 of the Indian constitution entrusts this responsibility to the EC. Any political party contesting elections, if they are dissatisfied, they have to apprise the EC. During the general elections, the entire administration of the country is directed by the EC to conduct free, fair and smooth elections. We have the experience that a lot of malpractice takes place during elections. Whenever possible, the EC should take appropriate steps. So far as the federal government is concerned, we have told the EC that adequate central paramilitary forces will be deployed in sensitive booths and the observer appointed by the EC should look into it that these central paramilitary forces are deployed adequately in sensitive booths.
Q You said you have been there for one day, apart from politics, what about Sandesh and Misty Dahi?
Rahul Gandhi: I like Misty Dahi, I am very fond of Misty Dahi. I think that they wanted to offer misty Dahi to me but couldn't. So I think I'll get it in morning. Misty dahi is one my favourite things in the world. I am going to come here again. I have been to Kolkota a couple of times, so I like Kolkata myself.
Q. How will you describe Singur, Nandigram happening in West Bengal?
Rahul Gandhi: As I had said earlier, there must be a balance, a balance between growth on one hand and poor people on the other. Who is harmed by this growth, a lack of balance that can be managed? It can be managed in a lot of cases. Nandigram was a place where that balance was mismanaged. There is more than enough that can be done, if the government is sensitive. If it is not, and does not go into it case by case, problems occur. These problems are going to occur more and more and more, because as growth increases, there will be people who are going to suffer as a result of that. A sensitive government is all about making sure that those who are suffering…Nandigram, Mines in Orrissa or North East…so if the government is sensitive and holds the hands and involves them in the growth. I will give you an example…I went to Orissa sometimes back. I was in a small village. I saw very small & interesting houses. I asked people what is was. I started talking to them, how come all these houses look the same? They said that these were looking the same because they have been given by the government and they have been thrown here from a place near a mine. I went into the details. I said, fine, where are the toilets and electricity in these houses? Now what had happened was that the people had been thrown away from their land…they have been given land 30-40 KM away…and they had been given these 30-40 house…with no real thinking as to where these people had moved from…is there school nearby…is there electricity in these houses…now these people were asking what they should do now? And that is what Nandigram is all about…it is about balancing growth of this country and benefiting poor people in Bengal in Purulia…in Kalahandi , in UP. And for that u need sensitivity and structure that reaches people. That is how I view Nandigram.

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