Ram Madhav, BJP general secretary hailed as a ‘rising star’, sees nothing wrong with the performance of the current NDA Government, which completes two years in office on Thursday. It has been second to none, he says. Asked to specify the high point, he points at the Petroleum Ministry and the Prime Minister persuading 10 million people to give up their LPG subsidy, enabling an equal number of poor families to benefit. He also speaks of the ‘success’ of the Government’s foreign policy in this second part of the excerpts of his interview with Prarthna Gahilote :
If you have to do an appraisal of the party and the government, where do you see them?
You take the first two years of any government, you will rate the performance of this government higher than any other government.
What would you call the high points?
At a time when the world economy is facing such a major slowdown, here is an economy that is growing at a fairly good rate of 7.8/ 7.9 per cent. Today the Finance minister is talking about a growth rate of 8.5. Definitely shows our economy is on a strong footing compared to the world situation. One can say you could have done better. That challenge always remains. You take the petroleum ministry, they could persuade make 10 million people sacrifice their subsidised gas connections and create an opportunity for equal number of people. Maybe it will go beyond in the next three four years, poor people to be benefitted by that in just two years time, 1 crore people benefitted by that subsidy alone. Petroleum ministry is one of the biggest achievements. Similarly, you take the power ministries, you have about 17-18000 villages, after 65 years of Independence they have not been electrified. Already thousands of villages have been electrified…
What’s the exact number?
It is about 10,000 villages that have been electrified already. So every ministry, any ministry you take, finance ministry came out with so many plans, starting with Jan Dhan Yojna to Stand Up India, number of programmes to benefit the poorer sections of people. Take the Infrastructure ministry, I mean the amount of infrastructure development in this country in the last two years, compare with any government, it has never happened. I mean every day we are building 11 kilometres or 8 kilometres of highways in this country. Phenomenal work is being done by every ministry.
Will the economy look up, will jobs get created ?
Definitely. But for the economy, jobs etc the Government alone can’t do everything without favourable conditions…like nature also has to favour us. Otherwise we are doing the best we can and I am quite sure that next two three years you will see a lot of development happening that will benefit the people in a big way. Especially the youth of this country who have reposed enormous faith in Modiji in the last election. We salute the youth of this country. They have overwhelmingly supported us in 2014. We owe a lot to them. And Modiji’s policies are going to deliver.
Two years done, three remaining. What are your thoughts?
We are on the right course. We have set in motion a major developmental paradigm. It will start delivering, I mean it has already started delivering goods to the people, it will benefit millions of people in the next two three years. It will definitely do a lot of good to the country. The paradigm that we have set in motion.
What about national security?
We have been able to strike an agreement with the Nagas which has been pending for 16 years. We are able to stabilise most parts of the country. I agree, Kashmir valley radicalisation is a concern right now. But in other ways largely the country is peaceful. There are no communal riots except in states like Uttar Pradesh where the ruling party wants communal riots there. Sporadic issues happen but I see them as law and order issues only. They are not communal issues but they are projected to be communal issues.
Your major thrust appears to have been in the areas of foreign policy?
On the international front, I think Prime Minister Modi has done great service to the country. Today, India is respected all over the world. Every leader wants to connect with India. So many leaders have visited India in just two years. And the Indian Prime Minister has visited so many countries, already so many invitations are pending. So today, India’s stature has gone up.
But take our handling of Nepal..it is culturally so similar to us, has had great relations with us, how could that slip out? How did that go wrong?
Nepal is a sovereign country. It will have relations with its neighbours. China is an important neighbour for them. So if anyone in India expects that Nepal should not have anything to do with any other neighbour except India that is ridiculous. As a sovereign country Nepal has every right to have relations with any country in the neighbourhood or otherwise also.
Nepal India relations are very old and they have nothing to do with our Government. They have nothing to do with our politics. Our relationship is historic, civilisational, it’s a people to people relationship. So there is some amount of turbulence in the relations in the last few months, the government is trying to address it.
And I definitely don’t agree that there is any great disaster that has happened between these two countries. We have trade relations with that country. We have developmental related relations with that country and large exports from our country go into Nepal. We have lot of interest in their development. They have a huge population living in our country, Nepali population. So it is a strong bilateral relationship that exists between the two countries. These issues that have cropped up in the last few months have to be addressed. That doesn’t mean our relations have broken down.
How about Pakistan?
From our side we have always shown sincerity of purpose. We wanted good relations with Pakistan. Look at Atalji’s bus yatra, it showed our sincerity, our intent to work for, to strive for better relations with our neighbour, with Pakistan. Same is the case with Prime Minister Modi. His overtures to Pakistan, out of the box efforts to establish good working relationship with the leadership in Pakistan, are I think for the first time that any Indian leader is doing. But the problem remains that the response from the other side is falling short. We have to continue our efforts.
Would you see the Pathankot NIA probe request to Pakistan and their refusal as a snub to India?
If it is to be called Pakistan snubbing India then in the last 60 years some 300 times Pakistan has snubbed India. We should have some self-respect about ourselves. You have a neighbour which is behaving in a manner which is unbecoming of a responsible neighbour. Instead of blaming them, blaming Government of India and saying you are snubbed shows lack of maturity and lack of understanding of India Pakistan relationship. India Pakistan relations are of a special variety. Past governments have also faced those situations. Manmohan Singh also faced it. Other governments have also faced it. It is not good to say that India has been snubbed. You can say that they have not done enough to respond to a situation. Yes they have not done enough.
The Prime Minister has had an exceptional relationship with President Obama. What happens now? Do Donald Trump’s statements worry India?
Indo-US relations have reached new heights under President Obama and PM Modi. In the last two years they have established very good working relationship that has led to further strengthening of our bilateral relations. PM’s visit to US next month, will further enhance bilateral cooperation in many areas especially trade, security, areas like India’s membership in NSG in all these areas. They are on a very strong footing. And beauty of these relations on both sides has been that they are bipartisan. Irrespective of who is in power in each country these relations have remained always strong. They are consistent. And we sincerely hope whoever comes to power in the US next year, these relations will continue to grow stronger and from our side at least that will be the effort. And don’t take the statements of the leaders during election time at face value.
How do you look at the problem of the new bill on maps?
To say that it’s my map, that everybody should adhere to this map, is the sovereign right of any country and it is the obligation of every citizen. Where is the issue in that? I am quite surprised. Are we asking about the map of our neighbour? We are talking about our own map. Cartography has to adhere to certain standards. Now otherwise if somebody wants to show Delhi as a separate country, do we allow it? We are one country who can create controversies out of anything and everything. This government says stick to the official map. What’s wrong in that?
(This is the second part of an interview with Ram Madhav. The concluding, third part will be published on Sunday. )