Why hasn’t the Congress not projected Rahul Gandhi as prime ministerial candidate when the BJP has so confidently projected Narendra Modi?
Keeping with the party’s tradition, the decision on a prime minister will be taken by UPA-III after the elections. The BJP adopts the model of the American presidential elections… It allows the RSS to handpick a candidate without seeking consent of the elected members.
Does Modi’s development plank worry the Congress?
Actually, Modi’s success lies in his event management; he has adopted a western style of campaigning to create an unrealistic hype about himself, a larger-than-life image. Modi’s high-pitch criticism against the government or unparliamentary language to criticise Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi does not explain his vision. There is a deafening silence on policy matters. He talks of price rise without giving a perspective on how he intends to address it. Whether it is economy or foreign policy, he provides no solution to the problems. We’ve not heard him on foreign direct investment, pension reforms, private banking, farm subsidies, labour law, land acquisition policy or environment laws.
Hasn’t the Congress-NCP pitched the campaign against Modi on a secular-versus-communal line?
On the contrary, we are talking of development undertaken by UPA-II. The autocratic face of Modi is no secret. It is the BJP that is worried about his “I don’t care a damn” style of functioning or, as often cited, “I will teach them a lesson” attitude within his party. Look at the treatment meted out to senior leaders like L K Advani and Jaswant Singh. It has exposed the dictator Modi in public… As of now, Modi remains the best bet for RSS. But let us see how long he will last in the BJP and the RSS… What about his stand on Article 371, Ram temple at Ayodhya, Indo-Pakistan relations? He has maintained a silence on all critical issues. Has he kept them on the back-burner till the polls?
Isn’t Modi acceptable to industries?
I am not sure Modi is acceptable to one and all. There is a lurking fear among corporates that Modi is likely to play favourites with just two or three industrial houses. The big question that is being debated now is will Modi give the corporate sector a level playing field. It appears unlikely knowing his autocratic style of functioning.
Does Sharad Pawar’s flip-flop on Modi impact the Congress-NCP alliance?
Pawar has been rather harsh against Modi’s politics. Initially, he may have indicated, let the law take its own course. But that does not amount to his issuing a clean chit to Modi in the riots or endorsing his communal politics. As far as the alliance is concerned, we are united.
In 2009, a division of votes by the MNS helped you. What has changed with the AAP entering the MNS’s space?
It is unlikely that the AAP will replace the MNS. The Shiv Sena-MNS wedge will certainly play a crucial role in dividing the votes. The opposition appears majorly divided as the BJP’s secret deal with MNS has not gone down well with the Shiv Sena.
How do you explain the ticket to Ashok Chavan despite charges against him in the Adarsh scam?
The CBI is already probing the case. The Adarsh commission report, and the documents required to establish wrongdoing to begin the process for prosecution are two separate aspects. The matter is with the CBI.