Interview with Congress party general secretary and communication in-charge Ajay Maken for Teekhi Baat on IBN7.
PC: Is it right to say main spokesperson?
AM: In charge of communication department would be apt.
PC: Are you not a spokesperson
AM: Am a spokesperson too
PC: After an editor takes charge, if the newspaper loses circulation, revenue, and loses a good team would you call that editor a successful or a failure.
AM: Then we would not call the editor to be successful.
PC: What would you call you prime minister then, GDP has gone down, people have left, allies left, crimes have increased. If prime minister is in that category, he has failed.
AM: But he is not in that category.
PC: GDP has come down from 10 to five per cent, allies left.
AM: Our nine year average GDP growth is 7.9 per cent. During BJP’s time, growth was less than six per cent. Our 7.9 average GDP growth has happened at a time when the whole world has grown at 2 per cent GDP. When the whole world grows at 2 per cent and India grows at 7.9 per cent, which means he is a successful Prime Minister.
PC: During Vajpayee’s time the growth across the world as three per cent
AM: During Vajpayee it was growing from three to six, and now it is two and 7.9, you do the math.
PC: Three to six per cent is hundred per cent growth
AM: By the same logic we have growth four times; it is two per cent and 7.9 per cent.
PC: It is not from two per cent, in 2004, it was around 6.4
AM: Am speaking about international average. Also, initial growth is easy, subsequent growth is difficult. When we reach 10 per cent, then going from 10 to 11 per cent, would not be as easy. But going from three to six would be very easy.
PC: BJP says we built the foundation; you built a building on it.
AM: Foundation was laid when Manmohan Singh was Finance Minister.
PC: Narsimha Rao was Prime Minister. But even after that the growth came down to three per cent.
AM: It had come to three per cent only for a year, and then jumped to six per cent.
PC: Which means you were doing well, then fell down, even then you say you are successful. Allies left, ministers resigned.
AM: Allies have left or not, we have majority.
PC: Where is majority?
AM: We do have majority, otherwise why doesn’t the opposition
PC: That is because of manipulation
AM: We have the numbers, then these kind of things are said.
PC: But you cannot get the laws passed, you get an ordinance.
AM: Let them get the ordinance, if they want
PC: If you had majority, why would you have got an ordinance
AM: It is no because of majority, but because they did not let the session run the last time.
PC: You don’t have majority hence you did so
AM: We bringing am ordinance has nothing to do with majority. Our budget has passed, finance bill passed.
PC: Gujraal saab’s budget passed, then the government fell. Atal Bihari Vajpayee had got vote on account done.
AM: Vote on account is different, finance bill is different.
PC: In 65 year old history, never did the budget fall.
AM: Government does not fall after the budget is passed. If budget has passed, finance bill has passed, it means majority is there.
PC: But they walked out, they could have made the government fall
AM: Why didn’t they do it then?
PC: Hence you are saying that the government is running very well, you very happy with 5 per cent growth.
AM: Don’t look at today’s five per cent, look at the whole period.
PC: Your current account deficit has increased three times.
AM: As percentage of GDP, current account deficit is low even now as compared to NDA..
PC: Your public debt has increased by Rs. four lakh crore, where is the income.
AM: See the debt-GDP ratio. See the GDP when Vajpayee saab left government and now.
PC: Increase in incomes does not mean that one goes bankrupt. In 2010, foreign exchange was 300 billion dollars, today you have 260 billion dollars.
AM: Oil prices have increased
PC: You have explanation for everything, your export, revenue is not increasing, and industrialists are taking money out of India,
AM: Out manufacturing sector growth has been 7.8 per cent. During BJP’s time,
PC: You talk about yourself; BJP has lost elections two times, people made them lose. Last year, 11 billion dollars went from India to America last year.
AM: But I came during out period
PC: Not even five billion has come
AM: See our nine year records; we have never received such an amount of money which we did in the past nine years.
PC: Am talking of Vajpayee government times, when he took over reserves were 150 billion dollars, when he relinquished charge it was 300 billion dollars, now nine years later, you are still stuck at 300 billion.
AM: Foreign exchange deposit is not the basis of economy. That time growth was less than six per cent, poverty reduction was 0.8 per cent per year, we have done poverty reduction of two per cent per year.
PC: But the number of people in poverty has increased
AM: For the first time poverty in absolute terms has declined, I can show you, this is the Prime Minister’s statement.
PC: Prime Minister in 2009 said growth will be ten per cent, in 2010; he said we will do 12 per cent growth.
AM: Like you told numbers, I am telling numbers that we have reduced poverty by 2 per cent every year as compared to 0.8 during NDA’s time. We have 7.9 per cent average GDP growth as compared to 6 per cent during NDA’s time. Then who is better?
PC: You are saying that you have reduced the number of poor. You say you do things for the poor by bringing the food security bill. But you cannot make available vegetables at economical rates, water, roads, you say you will give cash transfer, which indirectly means make people beggars, but we will not give you jobs.
AM: What do you mean by that?
PC: You are giving cash transfers; unemployment has increased on the other side,
AM: No it has not increased. Our MGNREGA, the national rural employment guarantee scheme
PC: That is a guarantee scheme, it is not employment.
AM: Forty eight crore job cards have been made in the country
PC: How many assets have been created?
AM: Assests are in that that
PC: What are those
AM: Assets worth Rs. 1.72 lakh crore have been created.
PC: Reports state that there is no roads, water, and electricity in rural areas
AM: It is no magic wand that in three- four years
PC: But it has been nine years now
AM: Our MGNREGA is a six year old scheme, we have spent 1.72 lakh crore on the scheme. When it was initiated, Rs. 65 were daily wages, now daily wages are Rs. 125
PC: MGNREGA is a political tool to win elections
AM: Via MGNREGA poor people in all parts of country have got a right to work, and got work.
PC: You are going for elections, you are scared of Modi, Ajay Maken gets instructions to abuse Modi today, because you have no leader
AM: No, there are no instructions as such and neither have we abused.
PC: They abuse you, you abuse them
AM: We always try to stretch our line, we will talk with numbers regarding the work which we have done. Via food security bill, 82 crore people in the country will get right to food, and as a right, this is not a scheme. And Rs. 1, 23,724 crore
PC: But when talking of subsidy, why don’t you make power availability cheaper, petrol cheaper, you increase price of diesel, petrol
AM: You now said vegetables, diesel, petrol is expensive, now when we are reducing prices of food, which will meet the hunger, you are asking questions
PC: 30 per cent of the total budget is spent on food
AM: Is it happening from now, it is happening from earlier times. It is not merely on food, it is on the minimum support price which we give farmers. When we came to power, minimum support price of rice was Rs. 640 per quintal, today it is Rs. 1350, anaj has increased from Rs. 550 to Rs .1250.
PC: But it is decaying in FCI godowns
AM: No it is not decaying, when we came to power,
PC: Congress plan’s it to donate and squander the government money, give people jobs, house, a roof over his head. But you tell people take wheat for cheap, but it may be sold in black.
AM: When we give cheap anaj, you ask why, when we give them jobs in MGNREGA, you say from where the assets were created.
PC: When you took over in Delhi, price of electricity was Rs. 2 per unit, now it is Rs. eight per unit.
AM: But you atleast get electricity, when we took over electricity theft was around 56 per cent.
PC: Which means your argument is that will reduce two rupees in food prices and recover from electricity price. Electricity bill is more than food bill these days.
AM: To save people from malnutrition, for pregnant mothers, lactating mothers, we have got the food security bill.
PC: Congress ruled for 52 years, it knew all these things, today before the elections.
AM: NDA had got time in between, janta party for time, they didn’t do, it’s not that only we have got chance. Now we have to resources, the GDP growth because of our Prime Minister and Congress president.
PC: Digvijay Singh has announced that Rahul Gandhi will not be declared Prime Ministerial candidate. Do you feel it is because of fear that Congress may get less than 200 seats.
AM: No, nothing as such and no decision in this regard has been taken till now.
PC: Why did he say it
AM: You called me chief spokesperson, I am telling, there is no decision on it, there is one year for elections, secondly, we are ruling party, we have our prime minister, and our prime minister has done good work, third thing which is most important, our’s is not a presidential form of governance, that there are elections between president and president, and in our parliamentary form of governance, members of parliament are elected, in 2004 when Manmohan Singhji became prime minister
PC: In 2009 you had announced
AM: In 2009 he was sitting. That is why I am saying now there is no decision on the issue, when it happens, we will surely tell you.
PC: You fear that is a fear and after Modi you fear more
AM: Are we feared or Modi, or is the BJP feared of Modi?
PC: BJP people are in fear
AM: Advaniji got fever when he was in Goa.
PC: But they all came together, they are together these days.
AM: What together, the day Sushma Swaraj was to be crowned, she came back to Delhi. The chief minister of Goa, the state where all this happened, criticized him a week later. Shivraj Singh Chauhan keeps on taunting him frequently. First let BJP announce him as prime ministerial candidate, NDA is shrinking by the day, you spoke about our Prime Minister, not NDA
PC: I said that the acceptability of both parties has come down, people are leaving both parties. Both parties do not have leaders.
AM: They are shrinking
PC: Both have three, you have NCP, National Conference, they too have two parties
AM: We have 206
PC: Why all of you are so much fear of Modi
AM: We don’t think anything as such, but you people taking his name again and again. We are not scared of him, BJP people, NDA people are scared of him.
PC: Not it seems a presidential kind of elections, they attempted at polarization, even today they gave a statement, that I am a Hindu nationalist
AM: Why didn’t he say nationalist Hindu
PC: What is the problem in saying this, that I am a hindu, and a nationalist.
AM: Why not nationalist Hindu, why Hindu nationalist, why not nationalist first. For any person, his country comes first. One has to be Nationalist Hindu, but if he is Hindu Nationalist, does it mean he is nationalist because he is Hindu. Then what will others who are nationalist say? We all should believe that nationalism, nationality and nation come first. First comes our country, then everything else.
PC: He gave some other statement too regarding puppy, on which Congressmen are taking
AM: We have said the kind of expression he has made, the parallels and examples he has drawn that is not a representative of our civilized India. The Idea of India, the image which people have of India, in which people of all castes ,religions, stay together, that level of example of a level which he wants to attain.
PC: But he is the Prime Ministerial candidate now
AM: At least let him show that attitude that he has such a thinking,
PC: What kind of thinking he has
AM: It is a wrong attitude, and the kind of example he has given, I don’t want to talk, because I don’t want to think like what a person can think about a community. It is a matter of shame and pain.
PC: You feel that he has become an example of wrong attitude
AM: I think any person should not use such kind of language. Anybody who shows such kind of attitude, he does not think how a civilized India is. He is not acquainted with India’s thinking.
PC: You think Congress will benefit because of this
AM: Don’t count everything by the measure of benefit or loss. If anybody does anything good, we praise him.
PC: Modi says make the nation free of Congress
AM: Till now, even Gujarat has not become free of Congress
PC: It has become free of Congress as you have lost five times
AM: Not because of them
PC: BJP has made you lose five times, like in Delhi you win
AM: He wants to go on the line of Sardar Patel, who wants India free of RSS.
PC: He is now taking out a yatra in name of Sardar Patel, his statue would be installed in every village.
AM: Does it mean he is opposing RSS. The Sardar Patel who banned RSS,
PC: He has wished everybody on Ramzan, shown nationalism
AM: He wished for Ramzan and the statement he gave in 24 hours, it shows, “ Mooh mein Ram, bagal mein Churi”
PC: You are saying Modiji ke mooh mein Raam, aur who bagal mein churi lekar chalte hain
AM: I have said it
PC: A Supreme Court statement has said, there should be no criminals in politics, there was a statement, but not that clear from your party.
AM: We believe that convicts should not have a place in legislature and parliament. As far as Supreme Court has said regarding sitting MLA’s, MP’s, if he is convicted with a sentence of more than two years, even in that case he should not be a member of the house.
PC: The day he is convicted, that day he is out
AM: I do not think there is any problem in that. We have welcomed it.
PC: The day a person is convicted, the same day he vacates that seat
AM: It is a judgement of Supreme Court
PC: It seems an ordinance is going to come, in which you will reverse the Supreme Court judgement.
AM: We are not going to get any such ordinance
PC: Hence, the Supreme Court court
AM: The Supreme Court order, judgement, is the law of the country, how can we go against law.
PC: The day he is convicted and gets sentence for two or more than two years, whether he appeals or not, he will lose his seat
AM: Certainly, and we are not going to get any ordinance against this
PC: And no political party will make changes to it
AM: We don’t want any change.
PC: But your allies would pressurise you
AM: I am from Congress party and on behalf of Congress party I say that we welcome this. In Gujarat, Babubhai Bokhria, who is member of cabinet in Modi saab’s government, he has to vacate, as he has been sentenced for three years on charges of corruption.
PC: Supreme Court has said it is prospective, but even in your party there are many such people
AM: BJP did not let many of our parliament sessions function because a name was there in FIR. Not only Babulal Baokheria name is there
PC: You are doing politics on the issue now, when you have made a government with such people in Jharkhand. The Supreme Court decision is with prospective effect. There are many people from your party, who have been convicted. The chief ministerial candidate whom you made in Jharkhand has criminal cases on him
AM: Is he a convict
PC: He has been charge sheeted
AM: Charge sheet is different, I didn’t say charge sheet
PC: You mean charge sheet is fine
AM: Supreme Court orders are not on charge sheet. We welcome the law that Supreme Court has said.
PC: In Jharkhand, there is a minister, who is convicted, his appeal is pending
AM: It will happen according to Supreme Court order
PC: There are cases against chief minister you have appointed
AM: He is not convicted
PC: Congress party is the opinion that those who are charge sheeted but not convicted can stay
AM: No, we are of the opinion that those who are convicted should be removed.
PC: I am presuming that you have no view on the charge sheeted issue
AM: Am saying those convicted for more than two years, the law should be followed
PC: But you have no view on those who are charge sheeted, because your people are charge sheeted, and made a government in Jharkhand.
AM: Charge sheet does not mean that the allegation against him are proved. Against whom it is proved after the Supreme Court law has come into effect, in future any person would not have the right to stay on the chair, we welcome the orders of the Supreme Court.
PC: Where it suits you, you welcome it, not other places. You have made a chief minsiter, who has cases against him
AM: But he is not a convict. If there is a judgment of court against a person, he has no right, as per what court has said.
PC: If decriminalization has to be done in your party, then people who have been charge sheeted, should not be given tickets. There is a proposal as such, do you have a view on that.
AM: Under the leadership of Ambika Soniji, the party has made a committee on electoral reforms, after the Jaipur session. The report of the committee will come.
PC: That will be after elections.
AM: It will come soon, we will take action on it.
PC: You will contest elections, without announcing the Prime Minister
AM: Elections would be held next year in May. Please see other parties too
PC: Elections would not happen earlier
AM: Why would they happen earlier, why would we do elections earlier.
PC: You will not do it, but if somebody withdraws support then
AM: Till we have majority, our mandate is till May, 2014.
PC: Thank you for coming to our studio
AM: Thank you, Prabhuji !