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AAP's success proves Indian democracy works: BJP's Yashwant Sinha

January 20, 2014 17:41 IST

He praises Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party.

On a question about governance, he does not slam the United Progressive Alliance.     

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Yashwant Sinha takes the high road the Jaipur Literature Festival. Rediff.com's Sanchari Bhattacharya reports  

Many of the audience members attending a panel discussion at the Jaipur Literature Festival on Monday were pleasantly surprised when senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Yashwant Sinha, one of the speakers, cited the meteoric rise of the Aam Aadmi Party as an example of the success of Indian democracy.

Addressing a panel on ‘Conquering the Chaos: Empowering the Future’, Sinha agreed with his fellow panelist, former Microsoft India chairman Ravi Venkatesan, that the nation was a “functional anarchy”, but added that it was also a “functional democracy”.

“I have not come here to promote any party, including my own. But the success of the AAP in Delhi reflects the majesty of our democracy.”

“And the fact that a person -- whose mother cleaned utensils for a living and who sold tea as a child -- is today an aspirant for the prime minister’s post reflects the majesty of our democracy,” said the former Union finance minister without making a mention of BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.

However, much later he claimed that the Gujarat chief minister would be “the prime minister of India in a few months”.

When moderator Paranjoy Guha Thakurta quizzed him about the BJP’s presence in only 340 Parliamentary constituencies in India and its virtual non-existence in states like Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, Sinha fired back, “Of the 340 seats in India where we have a presence, we will win 300 of them.”

He reacted more cautiously when asked if the Muslim community would vote for the BJP in the forthcoming general elections.

“When I go to my constituency, I try to reach out to all communities. Yes, misunderstandings still remain but we are trying to remove them. But that or any other issue can’t stop the BJP from coming to power,” Sinha said.

He also took potshots Manmohan Singh, though he didn’t name the prime minister directly.  “I don’t mean any disrespect to anyone, but the head of our government has contested only one election, which he lost, and he never went back. You cannot run a government like this, via surrogacy,” said Sinha.

But the BJP leader took the high road while addressing issues of falling growth rate, loss of foreign investment and widespread skepticism about governance.

Instead of bashing the ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance for all the country’s ills, Sinha urged the audience at the jam-packed session, “Let’s not go by (the record of our) last two years.”

“Judge India as a democracy by our record since 1947 (when India won its independence) or 1950 (when the Constitution was adopted). I am confident about the future, I am confident that we will solve our problems and we will march ahead,” he opined.

When an audience member, sporting a ‘main Aam Aadmi hoon’ topi, pointed out that the Arvind Kelriwaj-led party had shown the way by putting its donation record online and practicing austerity, Sinha replied, “It is not that standards of transparency and austerity are set and practiced only by the AAP. We all do that.”

He continued, “You can’t put one party at a disadvantage and say ‘now you show your records’. Every political party has to participate in the process.”

Ending the discussion on a mildly philosophical note, Sinha said, “All of us, at the end of the day, have to live with our conscience. The biggest authorities we are responsible to are our own conscience.”

Image: BJP leader Yashwant Sinha

Sanchari Bhattacharya in Jaipur