Hindutva remark attributed to Jaitley was diplomat's perception

One should distinguish between eyewitness accounts and assumptions of diplomats appearing in WikiLeaks cables, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said on Friday.

Ms. Swaraj was replying to questions at a ‘meet-the-media' here on the reference in a cable to her colleague Arun Jaitley's remark that the BJP was using Hindutva as an opportunistic tool.

While the narration on the ‘vote for cash' vis-a-vis the trust motion moved by Prime Minister Manmohan in July 2008 was an eyewitness account, the others were based on the understanding of the diplomat concerned. The latter was based on assumptions and perception of the diplomat which could always be disputed.

On the accusation against the RSS and the BJP over terror attacks, Ms. Swaraj said the terror tag would not fasten on either of them. “We do not believe in violence.”

The BJP leader reiterated that sports and diplomacy should not be mixed as was sought to be done during the India-Pakistan cricket match at Mohali on Wednesday. That exercise put unnatural pressure on players. The game should be treated as a game. “They did,” she said to a question whether the Union government treated diplomacy like a sport.

On the Assembly elections, Ms. Swaraj said the Left Democratic Front in Kerala would be marginalised after the polls, and ruled out any understanding with it on government formation.

On the Congress allegation that the BJP had a clandestine understanding with the CPI(M) in the State, she said, “I reject it as absolutely baseless.” Asked why her party had not fielded its own candidate against Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan in Malampuzha, Ms. Swaraj said, “Sometimes, it happens.” The BJP had only floor coordination with the CPI(M) in Parliament and that was different from a political understanding.

Focus on winning seats

Alive to the fact that the BJP had no representation in the Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Pondicherry Assemblies, the party was fighting to enter the House and be an effective Opposition. “We are playing the role of the Opposition [at the Centre] very effectively, keeping the government on its toes. Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry too should have such an Opposition.”

Main plank

The party was focussing on winning seats, and not on increasing its vote share alone. The main plank would be price rise, corruption, black money and a tainted government, Ms. Swaraj said.

On the Gujarat government banning the controversial book on Mahatma Gandhi by American writer Joseph Lelyveld, the BJP leader said, “I have not read the book. So I cannot comment on it. There would have been some justification to ban the book.”