By John Chalmers and Devidutta Tripathy
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Telecommunications and Law Minister Kapil Sibal, a senior Congress party leader, spoke to Reuters in an interview at his office in New Delhi. Here are edited excerpts:
What do you think of the impressive rise of Narendra Modi?
I don’t know about both the qualitative expression ‘impressive’ and the word ‘rise’. Because normally, the law of nature is that he who rises falls. And the quicker he rises, the quicker he falls. So, I don’t know how the laws of nature are going to work as far as Narendra Modi is concerned. I do believe that a lot of this, a lot of this, is hype and it’s based on a private army being employed by Narendra Modi to disturb the cyberspace in his favour. And we’ll see if he moves forward at all or not. Because at some time or the other, as you know all bubbles burst, that’s again the law of nature. This bubble too will burst.
Do you think it would burst before the elections?
Oh, I’m sure it will. Because bubbles can’t last this long.
Nevertheless, as the finance minister told us last week, he does seem to have a lot of traction with urban youth?
I don’t know what the finance minister said. Because I am not aware, so I cannot comment on it. All I can say is that again the traction is based mainly on misinformation. With a number of statements that this gentleman has made, which are far removed from the truth, is a record in itself. I have asked media people, I have asked the people of this country, I have asked thoughtful people, if they could tell me what the Gujarat model is and I have not yet got an answer and I’ve been asking this question for the last six months. And I wish you could answer that for me. Because I don’t know what the Gujarat model is. See, you can’t sell a product which you don’t have, right? He doesn’t have that product. Because when I look at Gujarat, the growth in Gujarat earlier to him was much higher. When I look at Gujarat, the social indexes in Gujarat are perhaps worse than many other parts of the country. He tom-toms about you know every home having electricity and the first state in India to give electricity to every home, this itself is a false claim. The first state in India to do that was Punjab. And he is No. 14 in the all-India list on energy supply. So, every claim, his statement that 20 percent of GDP of China is invested in education, I mean, I don’t anything can be far removed from truth. But the cyberspace is such that if you employ an army, and you contract an army, and you have enough money, and you sort of bombard cyberspace with misinformation, innocent people tend to buy it. But at some stage or the other, the truth always emerges.
About six months ago, the Congress party said they didn’t need to worry about Narendra Modi and wouldn’t need to make any comments about him. But now, we are hearing a lot of quite aggressive comments or quite critical comments …
Since you asked the question, I am duty bound to comment. If you wouldn’t ask the question, I wouldn’t have commented.