The country’s new home minister stresses the need to have good relations with state governments, irrespective of the political party in power, in an interview with Gyan Varma. Edited excerpts:
How will the ministry of home affairs deal with the growing differences with state governments?
There is scope to plug the gaps in relations between states and the Union government. Former home minister P Chidambaram had done a lot of good work on this and I, too, will work to further fill these gaps. We will have to go further ahead. We must have good relations with states. The state governments may be ruled by different parties but I want to send a message to all chief ministers that we are all Indians and will work together wherever there is a difficulty.
The National Counter-Terrorism Centre proposal initiated by then Home Minister P Chidambaram after the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai face stiff opposition from several political parties. How do you plan to move ahead on this?
I am an open-minded person. Let me talk to the state governments. I have to talk and get cooperation from everyone. This country belongs to the states.
How will the Union government deal with social activist Anna Hazare’s agitation against corruption?
Everyone is with the movement but it has to be within a framework. The government will deal with it. It is an issue of collective responsibility to fight corruption.
You have been made the home minister after being minister for power. How do you see it?
Rajiv Gandhi had given the responsibility of the home ministry to Buta Singh and now UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have given me the responsibility. I am the second dalit home minister, after Buta Singh. The Gandhi family has always taken care of the welfare of backward castes.
Dalits can also take bigger responsibility. I am not only here as a dalit leader, but I will give results to the responsibility entrusted to me. The home ministry is a critical ministry. I have performed in the past and I will again prove through my work as the home minister.