Govt has run out of ideas: Arun Jaitley

Post Anna Hazare’s movement many politicians have come under the scanner and many have dodged the media. They have started fearing the democratic strength while the aam janta has shown great resentment towards them post the recent scams and scandals.

Braving criticism and controversies surrounding the political arena, BJP’s Arun Jaitley shared his thoughts and opinion on what has happened to the Parliament, where is the government heading and `Annagiri` with’s Swati Chaturvedi on her talk show Kahiye Janab.

Here are a few excerpts from the interview:

Swati: Ever since Anna Hazare evolved as a national icon with his movement against corruption, people seem to have lost faith in Parliament…politicians have been escaping the camera…

Jaitley: I would beg to differ on this opinion. We as a political party had appreciated Anna’s movement and had also expressed our solidarity with him. We were very much media friendly then and are so even now. Yes, of course we had certain differences of opinion with Anna and his team over certain issues, but largely we were with them. Moreover, the kind of people who now represent political parties are relatively less influential in terms of their mass appeal. Politics is a huge space and one must raise their standards to become a relevant and an influential face.

And as far as people’s faith in Parliament is concerned, yes the Anna Hazare movement is a huge wake up call to all politicians.

Swati: What about the price rise in recent years. In the past eleven months interest rates have gone up 17 times. The politicians are turning corrupt than ever before.

Jaitley: You are talking about two different issues…

Swati: But people are really upset with price rise.

Jaitley: According to me, these are different issues but yes, of course they are remotely related. We have a Prime Minister who is an expert in economics, who believes that increasing the interest rates will bring inflation under control. He does not have any other idea to curtail price rise. The government has run out of ideas.

As far as corruption is concerned, shouting slogans against it and trying to cover it up will not satisfy people of this nation. The people of India want (i) effective actions to be taken against the corrupt and (ii) efforts to uproot corruption.

Swati: According to the people, Parliament is supreme. But we have a Prime Minister who happens to be the longest serving PM to have never contested elections. He is a member of the Rajya Sabha. And your party, the BJP is being remote controlled by the RSS. So people have started losing faith in Parliament.

Jaitley:There is no point doing an analysis on this issue. BJP is a democratically structured political party. So to say that it is being controlled by someone is wrong. Yes, we do have relations with the RSS but we just keep consulting each other. As far as decision making is concerned, our party independently makes its own decisions.

Coming to the present government, I believe there is tremendous inner-conflict. India is the world’s largest democracy, yet the ruling government is structured like a company. Usually in case of democracy, a member of the voted party is chosen to lead the nation. But in our case our Prime Minister is like a professional CEO hired by the ruling government. This situation is similar to that of a company. The board of directors have the decision making power while a CEO is appointed only to run the company.

Swati: We all have learnt a hard lesson from that…But you had once said that no Prime Minster from the BJP has been a political person…

Jaitley:: That’s how Atal ji used to govern. His persona was so huge that it was very easy for him to rule like that. We are considered the new breed of politicians. We aren’t new in the literal sense. We have been in the field of politics for over four decades now. Imagine how someone from a professional background becomes a Prime Minister in a few years of exposure. It is very important for us to change the mentality of how people in India think.

In the West, Tony Blair completed his third term as the PM of Britain by the age of 52. In the US, Bill Clinton had completed two terms as the president in his early fifties. And in India, someone who is 58 is being addressed as the second generation of a political party.

People keep saying that we want a young neta. Young neta certainly doesn’t denote someone who is somebody’s son or daughter. That young politician has to be someone with reasonable experience and exposure to shoulder a responsibility.

Swati: During the Lokpal Bill debate, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Rahul Gandhi were projected as the gen-next netas. Now how could Scindia be a young neta when he has a 16-year-old son? And they are the ones who are letting people down.

Jaitley: I wouldn’t make personal remarks on anyone. I do welcome the concept of those political parties that have initiated the process to project young leaders. But it would have been nice had those young netas been chosen on the basis of merit and talent and not by their surnames.

Who is the son or daughter of an established politician shouldn’t be the criteria. Will the government indulge in feudal politics or meritocracy?

Swati: Anna has been getting a lot of attention since his anti-corruption movement. He is perhaps the second person after Atal Bihari Vajpayee to have had received pan India support.

Jaitley: Anna’s movement struck a chord with an average man’s sentiments. Anna isn’t a charismatic human, he isn’t a political figure, and he isn’t even a great communicator. But he has sincerity. And the kind of conviction he has been able to lead his movement is incredible.

Swati: But isn’t that a matter of concern for politicians, whose followers are not as many as those of Anna’s?

Jaitley: It’s been an age-old tradition in India where a saint or a social activist has had a larger fan base than politicians.

Swati: Are you hinting at Baba Ramdev?

Jaitley: I am not here to make references to anyone. But yes Baba has his fan following and I respect that. Right from Swami Vivekananda to Mahatma Gandhi and Jai Prakash Narayan, the people of India have worshipped them and have held them in high esteem.

Swati: Coming to Jan Lokpal Bill…BJP had promised full support. But Lalu Prasad Yadav and Sharad Yadav had opposed it completely. Even now there are people like Amar Singh, Lalu Yadav and Manish Tiwari in the (Parliamentary Standing) committee who do not carry the conviction to fight corruption.

Jaitley: There are times when it really doesn’t matter who is saying what in Parliament. The people of the nation know what is right. Thanks to Anna for awakening national consciousness in people.

Swati: Coming to Afzal Guru… Government delayed action against him….the people of the nation are thoroughly upset with the way the enemies of the nation are being handled…

Jaitley: There are three things I would like to highlight:

These people have been proved guilty. Secondly, they have been proved guilty of terrorism. I often feel the delay is to facilitate legal help to the accused and to lessen his punishment. The Central government had to make a decision but why did the J&K Assembly intervene. Thirdly, it’s not a regional issue. One of the accused had attacked Parliament. The other was responsible for killing an ex-Prime Minister of India. Is this the way one would move with the proceedings to cash in on vote bank?

Swati: Is BJP ready for elections and what’s your take on the ruling government’s fate in the next three years?

Jaitley: Yes, we are ready for the election. As far the ruling government’s fate is concerned, I think nothing can repair a punctured reputation.

Swati: BJP’s candidate for the next elections?

Jaitley: We have a huge galaxy of ministers who are doing well. We have CMs who are doing pretty well. We have another three years to go. So we shall announce our candidate in due course.

Adapted by: Gayatri Sankar

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