Speaking to The Hindu, the Congress president says there’s a clear link between national and livelihood security and the aspirations of youngsters and farmers; PM Modi is missing it completely.
You’ve travelled non-stop, criss-crossing the country. What is your sense of the election? What is the mood on the ground?
This election centres on the issues of unemployment, the unrelenting plight of our farmers and agrarian distress, and the state of our economy. These issues will define the 2019 election. These are the issues that people want to hear about. Even pollsters agree on this.
Our manifesto has set down a framework to draw India out of the mess that Mr. Modi’s policies have created. Compare it with the BJP manifesto, which doesn’t even talk of jobs or the issues that matter to the people of India.
We have the highest unemployment rate in last 45 years, but Mr. Modi doesn’t have a word to say about it!
Instead, BJP has sought to divert the narrative of this election by making national security their key election narrative. But this has failed to fire as people will not be fooled: the fact is that the biggest national security issue is unemployment. And the other big livelihood and national security problem for India is the huge rural distress and the state of our farmers.
There is a clear link between national security, livelihood security and the aspirations of our youngsters and farmers. But the PM and the BJP are missing it completely.
Why do you say it has not fired? At rallies, the Prime Minister talks of a dumdaar sarkar, talking about a muscular nationalism. Does the BJP want to corner the Congress on issues of nationalism?
Let us talk about the term ‘dumdaar’. Where does India get its power from? Where does India’s strength come from? India’s strength lies in its huge economic potential, in the millions and millions of aspirational youth who can help India build a strong economy; who can start a massive number of businesses that, in turn, can employ millions of Indians. That is where India’s power truly lies.
If you want a dumdaar sarkar, you need to first employ India’s youth and give them opportunities to reshape their future and simultaneously rewrite India’s future. Only then will India become a powerful country.
Give our farmers a chance to usher in India’s second green revolution and India will become a powerful country. Kick-start our economy and get it back on track and India will be a very powerful country. Empower India’s poor and we will become a powerful country. Why can’t Mr. Modi see the connection between a dumdaar sarkar and employment for our youth, prosperity for our farmers and a vision for India that every Indian can feel a part of?
Don’t you think the mood of the country has changed post-Pulwama and -Balakot?
No, I do not think it has. The core issues for every Indian continue to be the issues of jobs, agriculture, opportunities for our youth, justice and equality.
Here is a government that is trying to build a narrative that terror strikes happened earlier as well, during the UPA. But this is the Modi sarkar and we go inside enemy territory, defeat them and come back. So they are trying to portray a decisive leadership…
Mr. Narendra Modi came to power on five major issues: jobs, economy, price rise, farm distress and black money and corruption. We have dismantled his false narrative on every one of these five issues.
We have dismantled him when it comes to corruption. You go out and you say chowkidar and people say chor hai. Everywhere, every State I go, I just need to say chowkidar and people shout back, chor hai.
We punctured his false promise on jobs. He promised 2 crore jobs a year. Today, India’s unemployment is at a 45-year high. We are losing 27,000 jobs a day! Millions of jobs were lost due to demonetisation.
Demonetisation was a completely ridiculous and absurd policy. Any economist will tell you that. Every Indian now knows that Mr. Modi’s ‘Gabbar Singh Tax’ is a disaster. In addition, prices today are more out of control than ever.
We have dismantled Mr. Modi’s injustice on the issue of farm distress. His inability to protect our farmers and provide them a remunerative price for their produce is patently and tragically obvious. Mr. Narendra Modi stands exposed as a politician who only lies and spins false promises. That is why Mr. Narendra Modi only speaks about national security. But the real national security and livelihood security issues are his creation.
Why doesn’t he speak about jobs, farmers, economy, aspirations and justice? Because if he does so, people will say, ‘What are you talking about Mr. PM? And by the way, why did Mr. Anil Ambani get ₹30,000 crore? Who is he? Other than being your friend?’
The Congress party has torn Mr. Modi’s bluster to shreds. What you will see is that Mr. Modi’s gubbara [balloon] is going to burst! No wonder, after the first phase of election, they are moving from ‘national security’ back to ‘vikas’.
Let me take that further. The Congress party, through its manifesto, is proposing concrete solutions to India’s critical problems. Mr. Narendra Modi demonetised, we will remonetise.
Mr. Modi said ‘Make in India’ in words alone. We will give every entrepreneur the chance to start a business without taking any permission for the first three years. This is real ‘ease of business’.
We will give our farmers a separate budget. At the beginning of the year, we are going to tell them, this is what the government will do for you. No lies. No false promises. This is how we will give you the MSP.
So, we have thought through the solutions. We have spoken to thousands of people. We are going to implement everything we have learned from listening to India’s people.
You’ve raised the issue of Rafale. The Hindu has been reporting it extensively. Do you think that Rafale cronyism allegations will click with the voter? Is it an election issue?
The Rafale issue has already resonated with the people of India. It has exposed the false smokescreen created by Mr. Modi. Every Indian now believes that Mr. Modi helped Anil Ambani get the Rafale offset contract.
Your newspaper has shown that Defence Ministry officials protested against Mr. Modi holding a ‘parallel negotiation’ with the French on Rafale, bypassing the designated Indian Negotiating Team. The documents published by The Hindu prove criminal intent. When an investigation starts in India, and perhaps in France as well, layers of corruption in the Rafale deal will be as clear as daylight for everyone to see. Recent expose of mysterious tax write-offs in France to companies linked to Anil Ambani point in this direction.