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What has Rahul to offer to this country: Arun Jaitley

January 28, 2014 14:53 IST

"... Why should Rahul give himself a self-certification that he believes in RTI and empowerment?"

"If Rahul was a member of any other political party he would still be struggling to become a party office bearer."

"Rahul needs to speak about the Congress party needing a change and not the whole system."

"Where did Rahul get this idea that in 1984 there was no participation of the state?"

BJP leader Arun Jaitley assesses Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi's first ever television interview


Times Now editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami’s interview with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi was a lesson for the interviewer.

There are advantages in letting the guest speak. By speaking the guest may even expose his own inadequacies.

After watching the interview and reading its transcript, the question that crossed my mind was “what has Rahul Gandhi to offer to this country?” or “Is he too confused to get into the specifics and therefore goes into the generalities?"

I deal with some of the comments made in the interview.

Why is there no prime ministerial candidate of the Congress?

The answer was clearly unconvincing. We all know that the MPs of the ruling party alone elect a leader, who is the prime minister. We equally know that projecting shadow prime ministers is neither unconstitutional nor extra-constitutional. It happens all over the world.

On changing the system and empowerment of people

We are a parliamentary democracy. That is the system best suited for India. Which is the alternative system that Rahul has in mind? He says he believes in democracy, in opening up the system, in RTI and giving power to the people. These are his differences with Narendra Modi.

I doubt very much if these are seriously areas of difference. Everybody in Indian politics has to believe in democracy, openness and in empowering the people. Why should he give himself a self-certification that he believes in RTI and empowerment?

The fact that candidates are decided by a few people may be happening in the Congress party. In the BJP, the block units and district units recommend candidates to the state units. The state units bring them to the central election committee. It is only after extensive consultation that the candidates are decided.

Even for the prime ministerial candidate we have gone through an informal process of galaxy of leaders being presented before the party and the people and the most suitable one is finally declared. The de facto prime ministerial candidate of the Congress is decided on the basis of the family he belongs to.

If Rahul Gandhi was a member of any other political party he would still be struggling to become a party office bearer. He needs to speak about the Congress party needing a change and not the whole system.

On making India a manufacturing hub and its comparison with China

What has the UPA done in the last 10 years in this regard? China’s core competence is low cost manufacturing. Consumers prefer to buy goods which are cheaper.

To make the manufacturing sector in India competitive, the manufacturing sector needed to be incentivised in terms of a modest interest rate regime, a world class infrastructure, competitive cost of utilities particularly power, trade facilitation, a globally competitive taxation regime, quick decision making and labour regime flexibility.

Even though the last of these is politically more challenging, has the UPA government even moved an inch with regard to the other reforms required? The answer is a clear ‘No’.

Comparison between 1984 riots and the 2002 riots in Gujarat

In 1984, a slogan “Khoon ka badle khoon” started in the afternoon of October 31, 1984 at the AIIMS where Mrs Gandhi’s body lay. Congress leaders were seen leading the mobs. Sikhs were massacred at thousands of places. No where did the police fire a single bullet to disperse mobs. Cases were not investigated.

A commission of inquiry was constituted, which came with a sham report. The Judge heading the commission was subsequently made Congress party’s Member of the Rajya Sabha. Justice evades the victims even now.

In Gujarat, thousands of people were arrested. The badly over-powered police fired at several places. Almost 300 rioters were killed in police firing. Thousands of prosecutions were filed. Hundreds of people have been sentenced.

The chief minister of the state personally went through several inquiries, including the Supreme Court-constituted SIT and no evidence was found against him.

Where did Rahul Gandhi get this idea that in 1984 there was no participation of the state?

On Corruption

The Congress has tied up with a convicted leader in Bihar. Without Lalu Prasad Yadav, there is no Rashtriya Janata Dal. Rahul Gandhi has looked the other way when it comes to allegations against Jimachal Pradesh Chief Minister Vir Bhadra Singh.

He pays lip sympathy to probity when former Maharashtra CM Ashok Chavan is bailed out. He chooses to keep quiet on the 2G spectrum allocation and the coal blocks allocation. He believes that some legislations will resolve the menace of corruption.

The most startling statement in the interview

“I am absolutely against the concept of dynasty, anybody who knows me knows that and understands that,” Rahul Gandhi says in the interview.

Surely Mr Gandhi, you don’t expect India to believe you on that.

Arun Jaitley