Former parliamentarian Sandeep Dikshit of the Congress on Saturday stumped a party colleague when he questioned his own party’s stand on the issues of growth and environmental protection.
Participating in a panel discussion on Nehruvian philosophy of ‘justice’ at a national conference to observe the 125th birth anniversary of independent India’s first prime minister, Dikshit said the Congress took a "contradictory stand" on growth and environmental protection.
"Two issues of the UPA-II (government) really confuse me. One is the debate between environmental protection and growth. All laws on environmental protection were brought in by the Congress. Were those Acts wrong or was there an issue we could not settle? Why is it that the (then) prime minister (Manmohan Singh) was forced to make statements on one line? The question is you are the PM; you are the government; if you believe the environmental laws are wrong, change them. If you believe growth is anti-environment, then convince us that it was so," said Dikshit.
"The second issue is of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), which was again brought by us (the previous Congress government). Why was it that the FCRA was changed to make it more difficult for organisations that questioned the government," he asked.
Dikshit’s statements clearly baffled former external affairs minister Salman Khurshid, who was part of the discussion.
Khurshid asked Dikshit to "talk to (former finance minister) P. Chidambaram over lunch".
Chidambaram, who was also present on the occasion, too avoided the question on environmental protection and said it would be answered by another panellist Chandra Bhushan, a deputy director of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
"Sir, I am sorry, but your answer has given me the answer," was Dikshit’s response to Khurshid.