A Ganesh Nadar listens in during Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha’s speech to the IMC in Mumbai.
“Sir, you are living in a fool’s paradise.”
This was the first reaction to Sanjay Jha’s (national spokesperson of the Congress party) speech at the Indian Merchant’s Chamber in Mumbai on August 22.
He had been invited to speak on the topic, “Sustainable development -- Why India’s growth is unstoppable”.
He spoke at length at how good the economy was from 2004 to 2009 and how the growth rate was 8.5 percent. He seemed to forget that it was 2013 and he had missed out on four years.
The venue had to be shifted from the fourth floor to the second floor, maybe that was a bigger hall and it would look empty. The new venue was full as it was a smaller hall.
IMC President Shailesh Vaidya in his welcome speech said he had met Sanjay Jha in the lobby of the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai a couple of weeks back. So we now know that both of them frequent the Taj, and the chances of them knowing the real India, was nil.
Jha told us that his daughter calls him a masochist. “Daddy how can you go on every television channel and be tortured by so many panelists?” she asks him regularly.
Luckily we were not on live television or she would have known how right she was. Coming back to his speech, he said, it was all about the golden period from 2004 to 2009 and how they (the Congress) had completed the golden quadrilateral. He conveniently forgot the golden quadrilateral project is identified with A B Vajpayee and his National Democratic Alliance government.
Then he told us that the 2G scam loss figure of Rs 176,000 crore was humbug and absolute lies. The CAG was just another chartered accountant who had got it wrong. There was no loss he claimed. Not in coal allocation, not in telecom spectrum.
He also said that they were honest. They had admitted that the coal files were missing. They were not hiding the truth (though they had hidden the files).
Then he said, “We gave you the Right to Information Act”. A journalist screamed, “Then you took the political parties out of its ambit”. The IMC president screamed at the journalist, “Don’t speak out of turn, you will get your chance after we finish”.
Then an IMC member said, “I am a Congressman but do you know in 1916 one rupee got you 14 dollars, in 1947 one rupee bought you one dollar and today it was 60 rupees to a dollar. Indians always hoard gold and you better get used to the idea”.
Jha mentioned that the US economy was recovering and the Eurozone was showing buoyancy and so we would be dragged upwards as we were part of the global economy.
One of the questions to this was, “In 2008 you said that we were insulated from the global crises and now you are saying the US and Europe would take us up, make up your mind are we connected to the rest of the world or not?”
Then he told us that China had beaten us in manufacturing and we were left behind. He also told us that our prime minister was wonderful and P Chidambaram was fantastic and Montek Singh Ahluwalia was the best.
The next question, “We would like to hear the wonderful prime minister, we are tired of listening to the spokespersons”. The speaker seemed to have forgotten that Jha was also a spokesperson.
Then Jha told us that even President Barack Obama thought that Dr Singh was a great economist. The response, “That is because he talks to Obama, he doesn’t talk to us”.
An 80-year-old IMC member then told Jha, “We were born in British India and we had so much hope from Jawaharlal Nehru. Tell me why do you want criminals in Parliament? Why are you opposing the Supreme Court’s orders to dismiss MPs and MLAs once convicted? We can never prosper till criminals get elected as lawmakers. If this continues we will one day collapse as a country. I pray to God everyday that I don’t live to see that day”.
Overall journalists who had turned up were disappointed. They were not allowed to ask any questions. All questions were asked by IMC members only.
The most curious piece of advice came from an IMC member on how to save this country. “Read the Arthashastra by Kautilya, I have given two copies to Pranab Mukherjee when he was finance minister. I am giving you one copy to give P Chidambaram. The country will be saved.”