'What happens in Parliament is well rehearsed drama'
Former Union Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arun Shourie has said that Gujarat Chief Minister and the party's campaign committee chief Narendra Modi is already the party's prime ministerial candidate. In an interview to CNN-IBN, Shourie said the country needs a decisive leader and Modi is a decisive leader.
Shourie rejected any resistance from within the party to the rise of Narendra Modi and said top BJP leaders like Sushma Swaraj and L K Advani are ‘stateless leaders from Delhi’.
Transcript of the interview
Mr Shourie, lets start with the state of our politics...Many people when they look at the paralysis of the Parliament or the performance of the government are disillusioned, several are distressed, some are even disgusted...can you understand that sentiment?
What happens in Parliament is most often a drama. It is a well rehearsed, stage planned drama...you will shout, I will shout, the speaker in 5 minutes will say OK adjourned till 12:30. So it is irrespective of the contrived nature of that drama that the paralysis has occurred. The Parliament of India has been reduced to one of the worst assemblies of the state. What we used to hear about the Bihar assembly, we now see in Parliament.
So when you say it’s a drama is this almost like theatre of the absurd
No, theatre of the evil as far as the consequences are concerned, because of its consequences. I don’t mean persons are evil but the consequences are certainly disastrous for the country.
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Image: Former Disinvestment Minister Arun Shourie
Photographs: Press Information Bureau
'We are looking to Parliament for too many decisions'
It’s damning India to be a permanently backward undeveloped country because the decisions it should take it’s simply not taking
Two points on that -- first, we are looking to Parliament for too many decisions. We are an over legislated country. 115 bills which are pending in Parliament and really you can do away with all of them except 10 or 15 which are required because of previous laws which were passed not because of anything new. And other than that some small amendment is there, so you don't require legislation actually. A prudent government will make a list of things which can be done without passing new laws.
Talking about prudent government, how do you view the UPA government? Has it outlived this utility and is an election now the best solution?
Well the government itself has not been there, so its question of outliving its utility...it went away long ago. It (utility) was not there...not doing anything except for some perverse things...NREGA (National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) one day, Food Security Bill the other, which have terrible consequences for the economy to which we can turn later…the government was not there. But whether the elections now will really solve any problem really depends on the outcome of the elections.
What do you fear, that we could end up with a fractured mandate showing up an even more weak and unstable government driving us further into the hole.
Then we will be on the road from which it will be very difficult to recover for 5 to 10 years.
So you say to people who argue that an election is the best solution...you are saying it could be like jumping off a cliff?
Yes, it could be.
Come back to what you mentioned about the sort of legislation to be passed. NREGA, food security...these are held up by this government as great achievements...you see them very differently.
Yes, because we do not see up to 2007-2008...I'll just give you one figure -- subsidies we are increasing at 12 per cent a year; that is bad enough, after 2008, it has increased at 32 per cent a year...can an economy afford that. You see everything that is done is desirable but sometimes you can afford it sometimes you can't.
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'Manmohan Singh has squandered his own reputation'
So NREGA and Food Security Bill represent welfare-ismtaken to the extent of bad economics endangering the country’s future?
Not only for the future but at present it has really ruined things.
In that context how then would you assess the nine years of Dr Manmohan Singh as PM of India?
He has been a person who has squandered his own reputation and completely irresponsible in regard to the nature of things the country required.
Should he have been better in regard to two bills you mentioned earlier NREGA and food security.
Of course, I mean which ass could have not have known the consequences of this.
Do you see him as a man who as PM knew better but was hobbled by Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi?
No, no, I think Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi business is just an excuse. He just goes along with everything. His core competence has turned out to be to blame other people. 2G – ‘Raja doing it, I don't know’. Raja wrote letters to you (PM); Coalgate – ‘I was the minister but I don't know’. I can tell you something from my personal knowledge and from what my good friend Yashwant Sinha (former finance minister) told me. Whatever you say about the Indian intelligence system, the PM of India knows every single thing that is happening anywhere in his government.
So you are suggesting that Manmohan Singh knowingly has been turning a Nelson’s eye to what was happening around him? Including corruption happening under his nose?
Absolutely. In case of 2G I took the papers to him. I had to disclose it unfortunately because Asir Wasam Achary had brought the papers to me at the first instance. He (Manmohan Singh) did nothing.
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'PM Singh a good man who turns out to be a good for nothing man'
Today Dr Manmohan Singh stands very low in your estimation
You have lost respect for him.
A good man who turns out to be a good for nothing man.
What assessment have you made of Rahul Gandhi as an MP over these 9 years?
Has he said anything on any public issue? I remember only one statement of his on this Lokpal thing. He made a speech in Parliament and said that actually the Lokpal should become constitutional status and that this is going to be the game changer.
Does he have PM qualities?
But he is just an innocent person. I don’t know him personally and I would not like to comment on it. What has he done?
Let us come to Narendra Modi. The BJP sees him as a salvation of this country. Do you agree?
His main election agent is working…very strong person working for him.
Are you talking about Amit Shah?
No, no, I am talking of Manmohan Singh. Manmohan Singh is the main election agent of Narendra Modi today. Kyunki jab ye kuch kaam hi nahi karte to log kehte hai Modi ko lao, Modi ko lao.
In other words you are saying desperation, frustration, rage and anger with Manmohan Singh and the UPA govt is what will bring Narendra Modi to power?
No, it contrasts with...I hope that a person like him comes to power. I can't guarantee that.
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Image: Portraits of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi lie in flames after they were set on fire by demonstrators during a protest
Photographs: Amit Dave/Reuters
'Modi is BJP's prime ministerial candidate'
Would you endorse him (Narendra Modi)?
I would certainly.
What do you say to people who say he is divisive, he frightens the minority, he will rupture India's communal harmony?
There is communal harmony. In any case the question really is if I keep shouting divisive, divisive then everybody says see everybody is talking of him as divisive. The question is at the moment what the country wants is not divisive but decisive leadership and he has certainly demonstrated that.
If he becomes BJP's PM candidate which looks quite likely
He is BJP's PM candidate
Will he unite the party behind him or could he fracture the top leadership like Sushma Swarajas, LK Advanis?
I will not speak about stateless leaders in Delhi. There are state leaders.
Stateless leaders in Delhi...?
Yes, that's Gyani Ji's description. He said India mein do tarah ke leaders hain, Kamraj, SK Patil, NTR aur dooje mein stateless leaders like VP Singh (former prime minister).
So you are comparing Sushma and Advani to VP Singh
I am not comparing them to everybody here in Delhi. I'm saying that Modi has united the party at the grassroot level as far as I can see. I am not in touch with the party but if that is the party of workers and volunteers are all for him, I am sure that people in Delhi are also now reconciled to him.
If under him the BJP gets 150 to 160 what then. In 1996 Atal Bihari Vajpayee from the same point could not form a lasting government. Can Modi do better?
I don't know. That will depend on the situation in the country. I would presume that Narendra Modi will work for a minimum 230 seats with the BJP alone. And the way this government is going that is entirely possible.
It is entirely possible, with Dr Manmohan Singh to thank
Yes, absolutely right.
Is Parliament right in striving to reverse SC judgment barring convicted MPs and MLAs from continuing in office?
That is absolutely self serving and wrong. It's wrongly advocated. Section 8(4) of RP Act must be amended.
What about the Parliament's attempt to amend the RTI Act to keep political parties out of its purview?
Yes, I’m completely against that because as you know... I’m against the amendment.
They must be open to public scrutiny. The first step in this they have to do is disclose their account because of a writ of my own father.
Image: Modi addresses his supporters during a rally in Dahod district
Photographs: Courtesy: http://www.narendramodi.in