Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s niece Karuna Shukla severed her 32-year association with the Bharatiya Janata Party just before the Assembly elections in Chhattisgarh and switched loyalties to the Congress.
A former MP from Janjgir in Chhattisgarh, she left the saffron party apparently because of her differences with the Narendra Modi camp. Shukla spoke to Deccan Herald's Kalyan Ray at her Radhika Vihar residence in Bilaspur. Excerpts:
Why did you leave the BJP?
The BJP has compromised its values. A particular group is controlling the party affairs and one person is being projected as the prime minister. Earlier, it was the prerogative of the MPs to choose their leader as the prime minister but now the party is deciding the PM. Even Atalji (Vajpayee) was never projected as the PM, but the BJP is giving importance to individualism now.
You were associated with the party for a long time, which means you have an ideological conviction – how can you change your views overnight?
My view remains the same — country comes first and party is second. If you talk about ideology, the party has finished the ideologies. It is no longer the party with a difference.
A particular group is controlling everything in the party.
Seniors like L K Advani, Jaswant Singh and myself were insulted. Ram Jethmalani, who contested against Vajpayee, was given a Rajya Sabha ticket.
Why Dr Raman Singh’s son was given a party ticket – isn’t that dynastic politics? Are the voters questioning you on the switch over from the BJP to Congress?
The campaigning is on a personal ground. My personal voters won’t change. Voters still love me and my name is not new to them. There is no development in Bilaspur during the period of Punnulal Mohle and Dilip Singh Judeo. Bilaspur does not have a flyover, bypass or a functional airport though there is an airstrip. In Masturi and Beltara, there are still projects initiated by me but you would not find anything in Bilaspur, initiated by Judeo.
Are you getting support from the Congressmen, some of whom may consider you an outsider?
The Congress has made me one of their own. I did not change the party because of tickets. I was offered tickets to contest from three assembly seats after I quit. But I
declined. Congress is the party, which can protect the country from communal forces.