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Regional aspirations don’t weaken the country: Arun Jaitley

Kochi: In a significant statement on the role of regional political parties in Indian politics, Union Finance Minister and senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley today said regional aspirations don’t weaken the country, but strengthen the regions and nation as a whole.

Noting that the regions of the country have given birth to some strong leaders with a national outlook, he favoured a study into politics of National Conference founder and Jammu and Kashmir’s tall leader Sheikh Abdullah.

“If you look at the cross sections of the country..Some of our tallest leaders have been born in these regions. If you look at Jammu and Kashmir…My party and I have disagreed with him…But I can’t deny that Sheikh Abdullah was a very tall leader. Some studies into his politics will be necessary,” Jaitley said after releasing a book on Kerala Finance Minister and Kerala Congress(M) leader K M Mani.

Saying that he belongs to a party which in its earlier avatar in the 1950s and 1960s was more inclined towards a unitary structure, the BJP leader hailed the ability of leaders like Abdullah, Shiromani Akali Dal leader and Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and DMK chief and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minster M Karunanidhi in connecting with the people and throw up to the idea of regional aspirations.

“If you look at Punjab, at the age of 88, Badal for the fifth time is Chief Minister. You can see these kind of experiments. Jyoti Basu had a very long term. Karunanidhi had several terms,” he said.

“It is not necessary. You can be opposed to them, you can agree or disagree with them. But they have the ability to connect with their people and throw up to that idea of the regional aspiration.”

“And therefore a new political equation has come into India where we have to realise that regional aspirations don’t weaken the country. They strengthen the regions and the strong regions have constituted a strong India,” Jaitley said.

The FM said though the BJP has its own majority to rule the country, the party chose to constitute a coalition government as it wanted that the regions be represented.

“There have been illustrations…Including the present government at the Centre. My party has a majority in its own strength. We still run a coalition government because we want regions to be represented. And in the process, the regional parties also acquire a national outlook,” he said.

He said if a member of a regional party becomes a Defence Minister or an Industry Minister of the country, then his party and region also integrate its own outlook with the larger national interest.