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|July 19, 2001||
The Rediff Interview/BJP Spokesman Narendra Modi
Bharatiya Janata Party spokesman Narendra Modi met Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for 30 minutes on Tuesday evening to discuss the fallout of the Agra summit. He, along with some other BJP officials, have been given the task of explaining the government's position to the media.
In an exclusive interview with Senior Special Correspondent Onkar Singh, Modi explained the reasons for Musharraf's hasty departure.
You met the prime minister and discussed the fallout of the Agra summit. What was the prime minister's mood during your meeting?
What transpired at the meeting is a confidential matter between Prime Minister Vajpayeeji and myself. Hence, I cannot talk about it. As far as his mood is concerned I think one need not go into this matter.
Is Vajpayee on the defensive after the meeting with General Pervez Musharraf?
Defensive and offensive are subjective terms. Atalji is not merely a politician, but also a statesman. He was very clear about what he was doing before extending an invitation to the Pakistan president . The very fact that Musharraf had go to back without signing any agreement clearly shows that Atalji was not on the defensive, but on the offensive.
What makes you think so?
Musharraf was the architect of the Kargil war. Atalji told him bluntly that India has the capacity to deal with terrorism despite Pakistan's presence. This was done to send a signal to the terrorist outfits in Pakistan that when it comes to dealing with them, India will not hesitate to crush them.
Is the BJP disappointed that no agreement could be reached at the Agra summit?
The journey that began in Lahore ended in Kargil.
We should not forget that the creation of Pakistan began on the basis of a campaign of hatred. Even today the politicians of Pakistan survive on this. We want to raise the hopes for peace and development in the citizens of Pakistan. Pakistan should realise it would benefit more by having friendly relations with India than in a confrontation. In a peace process there will be ups and downs. But we should carry on with the work.
The Opposition has alleged that the government was caught on the wrong foot and went totally unprepared for the summit.
This is not true. The government had done its homework. The ministry of external affairs had all the papers ready.
The Pakistan government has alleged that a hidden hand sabotaged the signing of the final agreement.
This is not true. Indirect hints have been thrown that a minister in the Union Cabinet did not want the draft agreement to be signed and hence he acted as a stumbling block. No minister in the government would do such a thing. Pakistan has thrown this idea so that the India media is kept busy in trying to figure out which minister was playing spoilsport.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Sushma Swaraj was not present in the core group, how did she land up in Agra?
She is a Cabinet minister. In that capacity she had full right to address the media. If Musharraf can address the editors over breakfast for over one-and-a-half hours then she has every right to put forward the version of the Indian side before the media.
The foreign minister of Pakistan, Abdus Sattar, has said that in the age of information technology, politics cannot be separated from the media. The same logic applies to Sushmaji.
Was the Agra summit hurriedly organized with an eye on the UP assembly election?
Do not undermine the status of a summit meeting by linking it with the UP election.
Did Musharraf's breakfast meeting with senior editors annoy the Indian government?
When two heads of states hold talks, you do not go to the media to score a point or two. If General Musharraf thought he could solve the Kashmir problem through press conferences, then he is welcome to hold 1,000 press meets. He would still be at square one.
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