India is currently in the throes of an anti-incumbency wave of an unprecedented intensity, believes Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arun Jaitley.
"From all indications that I gather, there is a huge anti-incumbency mood in India today. It is almost like the one that prevailed during the 1977 or the 1989 general election in India, when governments which earlier had a comfortable majority lost by a huge margin. I expect the results to be greatly influenced by this anti-incumbency mood where extremely angry people will come to vote the present government out. The people are searching for alternatives," he said.
Sliding GDP growth rate, corruption and leadership issues had all contributed to the anti-incumbency mood, explained Jaitley.
Speaking on the agenda before the saffron party if it came to power after the Lok Sabha polls, he said, "I think the first few challenges that India faces today are about restoring confidence as far as the Indian economy is concerned. For almost two decades, India has been able to showcase the country's economy to the rest of the world and we have been able to increase India's economic activity, but for the last four five years we have had this policy paralysis. The confidence in Indian economy has to be restored. Whatever action is needed will have to be taken".
"Secondly, there is immense disillusionment about the lack of probity in India. In fact, almost everyday there are front page news reports about corruption. We need to address this complete lack of ethical standards as far as the Indian public life is concerned and create strong mechanisms within the government to stop this," Jaitley said.
On the changes the BJP plans to introduce in India’s foreign policy programme, Jaitley said that there will be one slight, but important, alteration in New Delhi’s approach.
"We, as a responsible nation, would like to resolve issues through a process of dialogue. At the same time, dialogue by itself is not adequate because an environment for dialogue has to be created first. For instance, an environment of terrorism and tension on the Line of Control and an environment of dialogue cannot co-exist. We would like some response from our neighbours too," Jaitley said, alluding to Pakistan.
On the relationship between states and the Centre, Jaitley said that in a federal structure, regional parties and powers had to be granted due importance.
When the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance was in power, pointed out Jaitley, it did not have any problem with regional parties as the Centre and states acted as responsible partners.
"We accept the regional powers which are valid and acceptable in India's political structure today. But the only caveat that I want to add is that to have a coalition government, the anchor of the coalition has to maintain a regional balance. But if the anchor itself is a party of 20 or 30 members, it cannot balance the coalition. That is what always has made the so-called Third Front a failed effort. It has been tried a couple of times but that experiment has always failed; it will never work. So the anchor of a national coalition has to be either the BJP or the Congress," Jaitley said.