Interview: Modi a bloated figure, country will disintegrate if he’s in power – Veerappa Moily
By Frank Jack Daniel and Nidhi Verma
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Veerappa Moily, oil and environment minister in India’s Congress-led government, told Reuters on Thursday that Narendra Modi, prime ministerial candidate for the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, is a “bloated figure” and the country would disintegrate if he is voted to power.
Here are edited excerpts from the interview. Responses have been lightly edited for clarity:
What’s your take on Narendra Modi and what he could offer to the country?
Mr Modi is a bloated figure and ultimately when it comes down to realities, I don’t think he will be a figure who will be counted for the country, forget about becoming prime minister. He cannot contribute any value to the BJP, he cannot contribute any additional value to the NDA (National Democratic Alliance). And no sooner he was declared as a leader, there was a disintegration of the NDA. Many of the important major partners, they just left the NDA … They’ll win Gujarat or Madhya Pradesh or some. They may be solid. With two or three states solidly backing BJP, I don’t think in this country, they can [form] the government.
Do you share Modi’s economic philosophy and ideology?
Unfortunately, what his economics is, he has not specified and he has not said anything new. And Gujarat model cannot be replayed in the entire country. Gujarat people are different, they are the business culture there originally. Even before Modi can come to Gujarat, it was number one in industrialization with the Congress regime. Even Reliance, who put up the largest refinery, they put up the refinery and got land and every clearance only when Congress was there … It is not an inclusive politics. In fact, he is responsible for disrupting the society there.
You’re worried that if Modi were in power, the country would disintegrate?
Yes, yes. He will be a cause for disintegration. We’re disintegrated in Gujarat, he will continue to disintegrate if he is given national responsibility. That is why the people may not venture or risk that kind of a politics or democracy in this country.
What about the Aam Aadmi Party? They have made a big impact here in Delhi.
Yes, they won in Delhi. Delhi is not India. India is not Delhi.
Their economic policies are already having a knock-on effect. What do you think is the impact of AAP-style economics?
You cannot take such a risk in power tariff. Ultimately, the power generator will have to be paid. Without payment, he will not supply the power to you.
Maybe. Sometimes when elections come, some of the states, they play competitive politics. But it is not substantial politics.
Can the Congress join hands with the AAP to run the central government if AAP gets a good mandate in the general election?
[Their] politics has not reached that kind of maturity. And I don’t want to comment on this. Absolutely far-fetched idea.
Where do you see the Congress in the general election?
UPA-3 will come back to power. People know about it. All these years, you know the 10 years of time, average GDP 7.7 percent, except one or two years it was five-and-half or sometimes it’s six-and-half … Whether it is a question of building inclusive economics or inclusive society, the contribution of UPA-1 and 2 is highest. This will be assessed by the people. It doesn’t go by some ripples here and there.
Despite the scams?
If you know, go to the root of the scams, it was in the system. Not exactly in a person. Yes, persons have done [but] UPA did not hesitate to take action. Always action has been taken. That kind of a transparency, that kind of boldness to face the situation, I don’t think any other party [has]. In the same situation with BJP or the NDA, they have not taken action.
Can you cite any example?
Dozens of examples. Even the 2G. You know how it was born. And many defence deals earlier. [Was] anybody punished by them, anybody chargesheeted by them? Zero. For example, Gujarat only. Genocide has gone in, more than 2,000 people died and killed on the street when Modi was the chief minister. And they always wanted to, even Modi wanted to, shield those people. He did not prosecute them.
There has been talk the Congress is supporting Aam Aadmi Party to block Modi?
It is not the question of blocking. The Congress is not Aam Aadmi. Any government, whenever it came to governance and stable governance, we have gone in not in political expediency, we have gone for a stable governance … There are instances and instances the Congress never went hungry for power.
The reply the BJP would give to accusations about the 2002 riots is that the Congress never prosecuted anybody significant for the 1984 riots.
That’s not correct. Everyone, whoever came across, he has been prosecuted. This is not the case in so far as Gujarat as concerned. Absolutely no question of similarity between the BJP or NDA or the UPA or the Congress party. We have always gone in accordance with the law. Never protected anybody.
So you are denying the widely held perception that the Congress supported AAP in Delhi to block BJP.
We wanted a stable government here. That is why even at the cost of embarrassment to the Congress party, we supported Aam Aadmi with a view to give a stable government. We have given a chance to them, it is up to them to avail that chance and continue with that chance.
(Editing by Sankalp Phartiyal, Tony Tharakan and Robert MacMillan)