In this session moderated by Associate Editor D K Singh, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan speaks about the coming Bihar bypolls, argues RJD, JD(U) will lose because talking caste alone can’t get votes, and claims Modi will be PM for 15 years
D K Singh: Why did the government not organise an iftaar this time? You had to go to Patna to organise one.
I have been doing this in Patna for the past three years. Our iftaars in Delhi used to be very big, with a number of VIPs attending it. And it used to also get good media coverage. But our workers were unhappy. That’s why I started holding iftaars in Patna. I am happy that our party has won this time. Of all the iftaars held so far, this one was the best.
D K Singh: Both Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh used to hold iftaars during their prime ministerial tenure. Why didn’t Prime Minister Modi do so this time? In fact, no one in the government organised iftaar this year.
I will not comment on this.
Maneesh Chhibber: In the UPA government, none of the ministers sought the PM’s permission before speaking (to the media). But now, no one even utters a word without first asking the PM. Is everyone scared (of the PM)?
The PM is PM. The PMO is PMO. We have worked under different people. Indira Gandhi had her own style. I K Gujral had his own style. Manmohan Singh and Vajpayee had their own styles of working. Now it is Narendra Modi’s turn. He may not be interacting with the media, but the kind of interaction Modi has with his ministers is unprecedented. The new government took charge only two months ago. In every department and in every ministry, discussions are happening behind closed doors where no media is present to assess the plus and minus points. The PM holds discussions with every ministry. This is benefitting us and helping the PM as well. If we do good things, the media will highlight it.
Ritu Sarin: What is the mood in the Cabinet meetings?
A minister cannot say what is happening in the Cabinet meetings.We can say what is happening outside the Cabinet.
D K Singh: What is the difference between Vajpayee’s and Modi’s style?
Every PM has an individual style of working. While inaugurating a train in Jammu and Kashmir, Modi said that this is Vajpayee’s unfinished work: ‘Unka adhura kaam hai aur hamari ichcha hai ki hum ise poora karein’. The UPA had a different agenda; the NDA has a different one.
Coomi Kapoor: Despite so many discussions, food prices have not come down; the prices of tomato and onion are skyrocketing.
Regarding food prices, there are some essential items. We cannot live without water, but the moment one gets water, he continued…