Asserting that there was growing frustration among NDA members with the “one-man show” at the Centre, senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor has said it was a “telling sign” that some friends of the BJP were beginning to “desert the sinking ship”. Tharoor also said the BJP must realise that when even “your friends are unhappy with you, the rest of the country will be even more negative about your performance”.
“There is evidently a growing frustration among the members of the NDA, with the authoritarian one-man show that we have seen under the current government and the fact that some allies of the BJP are now beginning to desert the sinking ship is a telling sign that all is not well within the alliance,” he told PTI in an interview.
The UPA has always been an alliance of collective and deliberative leadership, where all voices are heard and all concerns accommodated, the MP from Thiruvananthapuram said while contrasting the coalition’s style of functioning with what he said was a “one-man show” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.
That United Progressive Alliance (UPA) successfully operated at the helm of Indian polity for a decade taking everyone along and it is certainly a characteristic that would make it an attractive alternative to the present ruling dispensation, he said.
Just months ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP has lost two key allies — Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP) walked out in March, while Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) shifted loyalties to Opposition’s alliance in Bihar in December. The saffron party is also under pressure from its allies in Uttar Pradesh — Apna Dal (S) and Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) — with murmurs of dissatisfaction coming from their camps.
Playing down the exit of the TDP and RLSP from the NDA last year, senior BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi had earlier said those leaving for their “own political reasons” cannot be stopped and asserted that his party was not facing any pressure from allies ahead of the 2019 polls.
Asked about the reports of dissatisfaction among BJP’s alliance partners in Uttar Pradesh, Tharoor said: “It’s interesting that the UP allies of the BJP — Apna Dal and Rajbhar’s party — are openly putting pressure on the ruling party, while the Shiv Sena regularly attacks it, even in Parliament on the Rafale deal!”
Responding to a question on the waiving of farmers’ loans by the Congress governments in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, Tharoor said: “I do agree that loan waivers are not a long-term solution to the larger issues of the agrarian economy. But, if someone is bleeding you must first stanch the wound and then address the root causes of his injury.”
The former Union minister said he believes that given the acute financial strain and indebtedness faced by these farmers which, in many cases manifested into record levels of farmer suicides, the loan waiver was certainly a “necessary first step”.
In that context, the loan waiver is not necessarily a populist measure, but a prudent stepping stone in a larger mission to rid the system of its ailments, Tharoor said. “There is much more that needs to be done for our farmers — such as the expansion of the irrigation net, access to institutional credit, fixing our procurement systems — all of which I am confident that the Congress party, which is committed to securing the long-term future of farmers, will work towards,” he said.
Emphasising that this will require more time, Tharoor said that the speed at which the loan waivers were announced has demonstrated that with the Congress, unlike its predecessors, “those who put food on our tables, will not be given step-motherly treatment”