India – the world’s largest democracy is gearing up for the upcoming 2014 General Elections and all political parties are trying their best to woo the youth. It is estimated that 110 million people will be first time voters in the next year’s Lok Sabha polls.
Anurag Thakur, All India Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) president who was Zee Media`s guest for the programme ‘Yuva Mange More’, shared his views with Biplob Ghosal of Zeenews Media Group on issues concerning the youth and the impact Narendra Modi will have if he becomes the Prime Minister.
Biplob: What are your views of Zee Media’s Bharat Bhagya Vidhata initiative?
Anurag: It is a great initiative to involve the youth in the nation building process. Once they start asking questions they will realise what the facts are and what they need to do to get involved in policy making and changes that are required in the current system. It is very important to involve the youth in the nation building process.
Biplob: The youth had both led and taken active part in the recent high-profile protests over the Delhi gang-rape incident and the Lokpal Bill. How do you view this? What message does it have for the Indian polity?
Anurag: This is the outcome of the feelings of the people. They come out on the streets and protest against the current government when they feel that the water has now gone over the head and they are not able to breathe. It is very natural that when the largest section of this country, the youth, feels insecure because of issues like inflation, women’s security and unemployment; they will protest to bring about a change.
Biplob: How can the youth contribute in checking the menace of corruption and to enhance security?
Anurag: Charity begins at home. Let’s not get indulge in corrupt practices, but highlight corruption issues and play the role of a citizen journalist.
As far as national security is concerned, it should be given top priority. When our soldiers are killed at the border, the government does not take any initiative or doesn’t give a befitting response to Pakistan.
It was very sad when Defence Minister AK Antony initially said that militants killed Indian soldiers and while making the second statement he said that militants dressed in Pakistani Army uniforms killed our soldiers, which is also very sad. Then he made the right statement and it was because of the pressure created by Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha and the Bharatiya Janata Party. The youth needs to be vigilant about the security of the country, not only the traditional kind but also cyber security.
Biplob: The present economic situation of this country isn’t encouraging. What is your message to GenX at this juncture?
Anurag: I think they should assess why the county is facing such a situation. Under Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the GDP of this country was 8.5 percent, but today it is less than 5 percent because Manmohan Singh led government is involved in malpractices and corruption. Lakhs of crores have been looted. The bad policies of the UPA government are forcing the investors out of the country.
A big company like POSCO, which can bring in huge investment, has not got a ‘No Objection Certificate’ in more than ten years. Such instances certainly put a big question mark on the Government’s decision making capabilities. Not only are the foreign investors going back, domestic investors are taking their investments abroad because of the corrupt government and its poor policies.
Biplob: What do you think has led to increase in growing sense of insecurity amongst the people?
Anurag: Today farmers are committing suicide. Around 2.5 Lakh farmers have committed suicide because urea prices have gone up from Rs 400 to Rs 1,200; seed prices have jumped four times, input cost have more than doubled, but they get the same price for their crop. Secondly, youth and their families are under tremendous pressure as they are not getting jobs even after spending a lot of money on education.
Businessmen are shutting down their projects, the quality of the education system is falling with each passing day, and infrastructure projects like road building have come to a halt as there is no money. Who is responsible for all this? It is the government, which has brought India to a halt. The biggest problem is that the country is the lack of growth and it’s because the government is involved in several corruption cases.
Also, both Centre and the state governments have to unite to fight Naxalism. The Naxals run from one state to another, suppose they move from Chhattisgarh to Andhra border and from there they get into Maharashtra. While Chhattisgarh is a BJP ruled state, both Andhra and Maharashtra have Congress government. There has to be some synchronization between these states so that the Central and state governments can work together.
The Congress needs to change its mindset. When the unfortunate Dantewada incident happened in Chhattisgarh, the BJP said that it stands by the Home Minister’s decision to take action against the Naxals, but at the same time Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar said the Home Minister is suffering from intellectual arrogance. Congress’ then allied partner Mamata Banerjee also said that no action should be taken against the Naxals. The ruling government hasn’t taken any action against Naxalites, but praised them and given them good jobs. A court gives a verdict against a Naxal leader, but the same person is given a director’s job in one of the departments in the Central government. If you give prizes to the Naxalites how can you get rid of the problem?
Biplob: Will Narendra Modi, if he becomes the prime minister of this country, have any impact on the youth of India?
Anurag: I think there is a lot of aspiration amongst the youth when they look towards Narendra Modi to bring in real change, as he has delivered in Gujarat. Mr Modi understands the problem of the Centre-state relations, which is in a bad state today. States don’t enjoy good relations with the Central government and states like Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh are at logger heads with the Centre.
As Modi understands the problems faced by the states, he would be able to address those, once he is in that position. The finances of the states, what the states need, he recognises them as he has been the Chief Minister of Gujarat for so long.
And as far as riots are concerned, these have not happened in 2002 alone. Even before and after Independence, every year riots used to take place in Gujarat, but after 2002 Mr Modi hasn’t let a single incident happen in the state. People know that the riots happened after the Godhra train incident, but nobody talks about that. They talk only about the riots after that, which was actually in reaction to the train incident. People who have seen it, they have said that it started from Godhra and those who started it, the whole country knows. Unfortunately some sections of the media don’t want to discuss that.
Secondly, Modi brought harmony in Gujarat and can do the same all over the country. He never let any terrorist attack happen in Gujarat, so people believe that if he is made the prime minister he would be able to keep a check on the terror activities nationwide too.
As a chief minister he was proactive in bringing in investment in both industrial and agricultural sectors. Gujarat is the only state in the country where the water table and forest cover has gone up. So people have high hopes and believe that if Modi comes to power he can deliver more in the interest of the country.
Biplob: Then why is the BJP not naming him the prime ministerial candidate?
Anurag: BJP has made him the chairman of the election campaign committee and we don’t have elections today, we still have nine months to go before the elections. We have five Assembly polls before that, and after the state elections we will be in a position to announce the prime ministerial candidate.