In 2014, people voted with hope; this time they will vote with confidence for the BJP because voters know Narendra Modi is the only leader who can take the country towards holistic development, Union Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar says in an interview with Sumi Sukanya Dutta. Excerpts:
You are minister in-charge for Lok Sabha polls in Rajasthan where the BJP could not form the government after the Assembly elections a few months back. What do you think of the state and how have the dynamics changed post-December, 2018?
In the Assembly elections, the difference (between votes polled for the BJP and the Congress) was just 0.5 per cent and we got only three votes less per booth. This time the question in every voter’s mind is: who should lead the country, and the answer is obvious, Narendra Modi; who can make the country more secular, and the answer again is Modi; who will take the country towards holistic development, and the answer, once again, is Modi.
Therefore, it’s going to be a positive pro-incumbency vote. In 2014, people voted with hope; this time they will vote with confidence. In the last five years, we have been able to change the attitude of people. The BJP will cross the 300 marks on its own and the NDA will be much stronger than what it was in 2014.
There is a feeling that the BJP campaign is centred around highlighting the failures of Congress and sentiments of nationalism is also being whipped up to the maximum. Is that because the government does not have much to boast about what it achieved and issues like unemployment and farm distress were not addressed properly?
No. In fact, the main theme of our campaign is development and we believe in Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas. We understand that there is distress in the agriculture sector which is a result of anti-farmer policies of the Congress, perpetuated by over 60 years of its rule. We have given farmers MSP which, for the first time, is calculated on the cost of production plus 50 per cent. That had been the demand during all the farmers’ agitations in the last 40 years.
The Swaminathan committee had submitted its report in 2006, and I used to ask every year in Parliament why the (previous) government was not implementing its recommendations. The Congress government’s reply used to be that the formula suggested by the committee had not been accepted. Our government adopted it. We started Kisan Samman Nidhi through which we give them Rs 6,000 assistance. We extended the farm loan from Rs 7 to Rs 12 lakh.
On the employment front, too, jobs have been created at a record pace during the Modi government. For example, if 15 crores of Mudra loans are disbursed — 7 crore for expansion of businesses, while the rest are new —that means these many people have started their own work.
The NASSCOM has said that in the last five years, the IT industry has recruited over 12 lakh new employees. In place of 60 lakh government employees who have retired at central and state levels in the last five years, 40-50 lakh new recruitments have been made.
When you get 70 lakh new EPFO account opened every year in the last three years, it’s an indicator that people are getting jobs in organised sectors…. Unfortunately, in our country, not every job is mapped.
What do you think about Congress’s proposed minimum income guarantee (Nyay) scheme?
In the 60 years of their regime, they did not distribute even Rs 60 and five generations of their first family gave the same slogan of ‘Garibi Hatao’. Even after 47 years of nationalisation (of banks) they could not open bank accounts of all poor people. We completed the task by opening 35 crore accounts in 35 months. We have brought everybody into financial inclusions and financial systems. They made promises in every election, only to forget later. The promise of the scheme is not going to work because one, they are not coming to power and two, they have lost all credibility. The Congress has now become a party of the fringe.
Coming to the performance of your ministry, many people feel the government is promoting privatisation of higher education and did not do much; even the new education policy could not be brought in five years. Your take?
We opened 7 new IIMs and IITs each, 2 new IITs, 2 new Central Universities, 20 new IIITs — these are not private. There has been a significant increase in intake in central and state universities. We have increased the funding in education and it is nearly double now than what it was in 2014. So, where is that charge of privatisation of education coming from? The NEP will be announced after the elections.
You have held the charge of I&B Ministry in the past. Recently, NaMo TV was launched which shows content related mainly to the PM. There is, however, so much ambiguity around the channel. Your opinion?
All I can say on this is, BJP will not do anything that is illegal.