I am in Delhi today having to address some public meetings in Delhi in support of the BJP candidates and to attend the meeting of the BJP Central Election Committee on Andhra Pradesh. I had also to address the foreign media. Delhi now has a large number of foreign press correspondents representing various foreign media organizations. Some of them have additionally come to cover the national elections. I made a brief introductory statement and then left it to the correspondents to question me. I will deal with only some of the key issues which appear to be of interest to foreign media. These issues obviously include those which are of great interest to foreign readers and viewers.
I was asked as to how the BJP will re-establish confidence in Indian economy. The UPA has completely marred the investment cycle in the country. I answered that BJP’s top priority would be to restore the investment cycle in the country. The UPA has damaged the confidence in the Indian economy. India is no longer regarded as an investment destination where there is an ease of doing business. Clearing projects takes unusually large time. Some states have been discriminated against. The Prime Minister never had the last word on clearing these projects. The BJP’s priority would be to generate economic activity in the country so that international and domestic investors both feel that India is a better place for doing business.
Foreign Direct Investment
On Foreign Direct Investment I categorically stated that the BJP regards FDI as an additionality of resource which will generate economic activity but our commitment to FDI would be sector specific. We are opposed to FDI in multi brand retail because India is still not prepared for it.
On retrospective taxation I clarified that the imposition of retrospective taxation during the UPA regime was a defining moment for subverting the investment climate in India. Stability of tax regime has to be maintained. Retrospective legislation for taxation is permissible only when taxes already collected are to be protected. Taxes which impose fresh liability should not be legislated with retrospective effect.
On the economic model that the BJP would follow, I stated that the BJP economic model would be such that it generates economic growth. It should encourage entrepreneurship. However, considering large scale poverty in India we cannot merely depend on the economic growth to pull people out of poverty. Poverty alleviation schemes are necessary. The schemes, however, have to be also linked to asset creation.
On foreign policy I clarified that our policy in dealing with the neighbourhood would be dictated by security considerations. However, our policy in relation to rest of the world would be influenced by economic considerations. Looking East-wards our specific concerns about security issues relating to the Indian Ocean would be of prime interest.
On the possible outcome of the elections, it was clarified that a fractured mandate will be detrimental to national interest. The NDA needs a clear mandate in order to put the national economy back on wheels. Polls are predicting that the NDA would be the front runner. The last minute push to the front runner will take us beyond the half way mark. The Indian electorate is very mature.
There is a report in the media today that Captain Amrinder Singh says that I am extremely busy lawyer in Supreme Court and a lawyer who charges exorbitant fee. He has further stated that I would be unwilling to lose my lucrative practice to serve the people of Amritsar. The Captain is intoxicated about himself. He does not check up facts. I stopped practising five years ago when I became the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha. I gave up my ‘lucrative’ practice at that time. I have even suspended my professional licence. But has the Captain been ever sure of his facts?
A Failed Idea
Sensing defeat the Defence Minister A.K. Antony cautioned the left front that ‘Secular’ forces may have to team up again to keep the BJP out. It is clear that the Congress will be restricted to a two digit figure. Its only hope is to prop up the third front and support it from outside.
Third front is a failed Idea. Its government that won’t last beyond a few months. In terms of governance quality it is a Nightmare. Is the Congress party hoping to repeat this “failed Idea”?
Antony’s statement emphasizes the need for voters to realize that for political stability and in national interest, it is necessary to give to the front runner NDA a last minute push so that NDA has a clear majority on its own.
The Majitha Rally
Punjab Minister and Akali Dal leader Bikramjeet Singh Majithia organized a massive Akali-BJP rally in my support on Mach 30. The rally was addressed by Shri Prakash Singh Badal, Kamal Sharma, Bikram and myself. In the rally it was mentioned that Punjab and Chandhigarh had given five ministers in the central government. I started counting who these five minister were.
Ashwani Kumar had to resign under dubious circumstances. Pawan Bansal resigned along with Ashwani Kumar under equally shameful circumstances. Manish Tiwari has chosen to keep out of elections due to ‘medical’ reasons. Mrs. Santosh Choudhary has been denied a party ticket. Not a great Showing.