Narendra Modi is a prime minister who believes in selfies, not selflessness: Kapil Sibal
“Modi said he would transform agriculture. The rate of growth is one per cent, down from 3.9 per cent. Industrial output is the lowest,” says Sibal.
The NDA government’s first year in office was all about Prime Minister Narendra Modi, says former union minister Kapil Sibal. Speaking to Manoj C G, he says Modi did not live up to his promises. Excerpts from the interview:
The NDA government is completing a year in office. How do you rate its performance?
In the last one year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has notched up miles like no other leader in the world. That is a great achievement. His achche din has come. He says he has brought good luck to the country, that even global prices have come down. That is a great achievement. And he says the world trusts him. His understanding of how the global leaders perceive him is a great achievement. He has been able to project himself through Doordarshan and all other news channels. That is a great achievement. We only see Modi and nobody else. There is no BJP, no RSS, there is only Modi. That is a great achievement. Other than that, there is nothing on the ground.
So you believe the government has no achievements to showcase?
No matter who the prime minister is, incremental changes take place. The economy moves on. So those incremental changes, whether for good or bad, are taking place. That can’t be attributed to the prime minister. But the question that we must ask is has he lived up to his promises. He said when he comes to power, women will be safe. Crime against women has increased. He said they would bring back black money in a hundred days. Now he says he doesn’t know how much it is and how much will come back. He said he would give a new dispensation instead of the planning commission. We don’t know what that new dispensation is except for knowing its name, NITI Aayog.
He said he would ensure justice for all. We don’t see that being done. He said he would bring the rupee rate to 58 (against the dollar). It is up to 64. He made all kinds of promises for education, health, but we see nothing on the ground. He used very strong words against China and Pakistan, and what is happening now. They said they would re-visit the nuclear deal, and now it is the centrepiece of our relationship with the US. He opposed the Bangladesh (land border agreement) and now he is taking credit for it.
But the NDA government still has four years to implement its promises.
The question is how do you trust these people. How do you trust a prime minister who said one thing before the elections and does exactly the opposite after the elections? How do you trust a government whose people are proved to be untrustworthy? He has not delivered on the changes that he promised.
He said he would transform agriculture. The rate of growth is one per cent, down from 3.9 per cent. Industrial output is the lowest. Exports are coming down at the rate of 14 per cent. Real estate is down. Steel, cement and power sectors are not doing well. Telecom sector is in difficulty. Name one sector which is doing well.
But the government has a number of programmes like the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, social security schemes, Make in India.
What is being made in India that was not made before? The Rafale was to be made in India and now they are being bought from France over the shelf. What is there in Swachh Bharat? These are the responsibilities of municipalities. These are good slogans. Cleanliness is a good thing which the society should embrace. But it has nothing to do with Modi, nor can he implement it. Basically, he is speaking to Non-Resident Indians. He is not speaking to resident Indians. It is time he starts speaking to resident Indians.
How do you rate his China visit?
Modi lost a great opportunity by making a unilateral announcement on e-visas. This was a leverage point for us, through which we could have negotiated with the Chinese on the stapled visa issue in Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. He lost that opportunity. He is a prime minister who believes in selfies and not selflessness.
The foreign secretary says one thing. And within some time the prime minister says the opposite, which means the ministry is not wanting to give in on the issue and the prime minister gives in without referring to the ministry. Not that he can’t, but the point is that foreign policy has to be a well thought out process. There can’t be soundbytes in foreign policy.
You said Modi has not lived up to his promises. But has the Congress, as the main opposition party, lived up to the expectations of the people? Barring parliament, we didn’t see much activity before Rahul Gandhi‘s sudden shift.
Unfortunately, we don’t have the numbers in the Lok Sabha. The problem is that they were waiting for somebody to speak up and now that somebody has spoken up, there is an energy. In the Rajya Sabha, the Congress has done fairly well. We have opposed and brought back Assam into the land boundary agreement. It is because of the Congress. On land acquisition, the government is on the backfoot. The government had to refer the GST bill to a select committee. I think by and large we have performed well.
There are no big programmes outside parliament, barring a kisan rally in Delhi and Rahul’s padayatras.
Give us time.
When can we expect the much talked about organisational changes?
We will see changes hopefully
You are a former telecom minister. The government has raked in huge money through spectrum allocation as well as coal block allocation. The auctions were done transparently and there are no allegations of corruption. Isn’t that an achievement?
As far as coal is concerned, he says Rs 2 lakh crore has come in. But the actual amount is Rs 6,000 crore. Rs 2 lakh crore is the total amount over a period of 30 years. The world will change in 30 years. Technologies will change. In telecom, the story is yet to unfold. If the sector itself is over-burdened with payments upfront, the sector may not thrive. There is mismatch between government earnings and efficiency on the ground. Telecom sector is meant for consumers, not for government. According to me, this is not a model for growth. This is a model for raking in money for the government. Ask the telecom players, they say it is difficult for them to even pay the banks.
What about the HRD ministry which you had headed?
We all know about the appointments made in the ICHR and some other organisations like NBT. What other news is the ministry making? R K Shevgaonkar’s resignation (as IIT-Delhi director) because of differences and (Anil) Kakodkar’s resignation. These are all people who are big names in the education sector. If they have start protesting, that means something is wrong. And now you have the IIMs protesting. Then you have this very unsavoury attempt to castigate the Delhi Vice Chancellor. What is making headlines today? Nothing constructive… These are the issues that are making headlines instead of positive agenda like ensuring more quality schools, taking policy decisions on how to bring more investments into the sector, how to bring education in public schools, improve teacher-student ratios, having more quality teacher training institutions.
What is your take on the sparring between the government and the Chief Justice of India?
It is most unfortunate. The problem lies with the bottom of the pyramid of the judiciary, the lower judiciary where there is pendency of cases and inefficiency of the system. And what is the prime initiative they have taken — NJAC. They are not applying their minds on how to transform the justice delivery system for the common man. They are interested more in controlling the higher judiciary and controlling appointments in the judiciary. They want to put a roadblock by inserting that very dangerous provision that two people in the NJAC can stop any appointment. So if the government and one eminent person gets together they can stop any appointment they want.
But the bill was passed unanimously by parliament.
Because parliament is extremely concerned about the way the collegium system has worked… Let’s be clear. The collegium system leaves a lot to be desired. The way it has functioned, the way it is functioning. I am also extremely critical about the manner in which appointments have been made. Secondly, it has destroyed the independence of the high court, which is the most dangerous thing that has happened with the collegium system.
But substituting that system with the NJAC, according to me, will be worse. Once you bring the executive into the judicial system, the possibilities of compromise are much greater. When the law minister is sitting there…for that alone this bill must be struck down. This should not have been the priority of the government.
What should the government have done?
They should have been careful before they brought the bill… They should have tested the waters. Times have changed. Judiciary is a very powerful institution and you can’t be aggressive and show muscle. It is unwise to do so. Look what they have done to the RTI. They have made the whole thing dysfunctional. What happened to the Lokpal? This great debate we had in parliament and the way the BJP was talking about it… as if the UPA government was corrupt and didn’t want a Lokpal. Now that they say this government is not corrupt, they should have a Lokpal. They are not even talking about the bill or giving a timeline on when it will come through. Their priority is Modi. In fact, he himself is his own priority.
Source:: Indian Express