NEW DELHI: People have begun to absorb the reality of hollow promises made by Narendra Modi government which is unlikely to return to power in 2019, says Congress veteran Kapil Sibal.
“The mood today is for change and I don’t see the Modi government returning in 2019,” he said.
In an exclusive interview to The Sunday Standard, Sibal spoke on key issues affecting the political atmosphere in the country including BJP’s “divisive politics”, nationalism debate, farmers’ distress, organisational gaps in the Congress and the grand opposition alliance.
“The reality is that the GDP growth is not good. Despite low crude oil prices, petrol is selling at `86 per litre in Mumbai. Pulses are costly, big industries are moving out. Bureaucrats are afraid to take decisions, the informal sector is in distress and the gap between the rich and the poor has widened,” Sibal said.
The former Union minister claimed the “downfall” of Modi government began with demonetisation. It took a while for people to absorb the reality which is in stark contrast to the promises made in 2014, he added.
“The farmers’ protests across the country — the march in Mumbai and the recent one in Delhi — showcased the widespread rural distress. Only the creamy layer in society, people who are digital economy pushers, are flourishing,” he said.
Accusing the BJP of playing divisive politics, the Congress veteran said, “In Uttar Pradesh, the Congress was not a factor. The BJP won by polarising voters. Also, there was some disenchantment with previous government there. In contrast, we won Punjab and did well in Gujarat and Goa. In the Northeast, the BJP bought everybody as democracy means nothing to them,” said Sibal.
Acknowledging that organisational gaps had hurt the grand old party, Sibal said the Congress is trying to address the problem. The party is also connecting with various communities and building up strategic alliances at state levels.
Sibal said though political alliances was a complex issue, the party’s mindset was attuned to fighting the next national polls together.
The Congress, Sibal said, is working on presenting an alternative vision of governance by prioritising issues related to health care, education and most importantly job creation. The party feels people should be able to live without being targeted by Central agencies such as the CBI and the ED, he said.
Responding to challenge of the BJP’s brand of nationalism gaining ground, the senior lawyer said the saffron brigade’s idea of nationalism did not work in southern states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh or Telangana.
In West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee is strong enough to stop the BJP’s march to power. In three central states — Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan — the BJP is facing huge anti-incumbency, it is down in Haryana, its ally Shiv Sena had fallen out in Maharashtra and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath could not win the Lok Sabha bypoll in his bastion Gorakhpur.
“Depending upon the alliance with the BSP and the SP in UP and with the RJD in Bihar, the 120 parliamentary seats in these two states would make all the difference. I don’t see them being able to cobble up the numbers,” said Sibal, adding “We should not be complacent, though.”