Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram has described the five-year rule of the Narendra Modi government as a “complete disaster”, saying the BJP will not be able to form the next government and UPA-III could be a reality.
The former Union minister also said the BJP’s “campaign of polarisation” is a complete failure in southern and western states and the impact it will have in northern and eastern India remains to be seen.
“We are absolutely confident that the BJP will not be able to form the government again. The government will be a non-BJP government. Obviously, the UPA that is Congress plus pre-election allies will play a big part. If there are more post-election allies, I think UPA-III has a very good chance,” he told PTI in an interview.
Giving an analysis of the performance of the Modi government, Chidambaram said on economic front, it has absolutely and conclusively established that economic growth has slowed down and “unemployment is highest in 45 years”.
“In fact, I have the data put out by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy which shows unemployment has reached 8.4 per cent in the third week of April 2019. It is the highest unemployment rate in over 45 years,” he said.
On the social harmony, the former finance minister said there has been a complete breakdown of social harmony, particularly in northern states where community is pitted against community, caste is pitted against caste and all these have happened under Modi.
On the security front, Chidambaram said the country was today less secured than what it was under former prime minister Manmohan Singh.
“During the 10 years of the UPA rule, there was no war with Pakistan or China. Although there were infiltration and casualties, they had come down to the lowest level in 2013-14,” he said.
In the ‘Modi years’, the Congress leader said, infiltration has increased year after year and there is always a danger or fear that a war may break out anytime between India and Pakistan.
“It is a complete disaster,” he said.
Chidambaram added that the BJP’s “campaign of polarisation” has been a complete failure in Southern India along with Gujarat, Goa and Maharashtra.
“What impact it will have in central Indian states where Hindi is spoken– Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand– remains to be seen. They again tried in (West) Bengal, they have not succeeded so far. They tried in Odisha, they have not succeeded. They are trying in Assam.
“Let us see what the results will be. BJP’s polarisation campaign is a failure in the majority of states in India,” he said.
Asked about the possibility of Congress chief Rahul Gandhi becoming the prime minister, Chidambaram said the Gandhi scion has made it clear that the party is not going to talk about the post of PM at this stage.
“He (Rahul) has said more than once that all the opposition will gather in Delhi after the election results and decide whether we are in a position to form a government and if we are in a position to form the government, who should be the Prime Minister. It is a statesmanlike position,” he said.
Asked whether there will be many claimants from the opposition for the PM’s post, the former home minister said nobody was claiming the post of the Prime Minister.
“I have not heard anyone claiming the post of PM. Every party leader is entitled to say ‘if my party wins, my party can provide the PM candidate’. What is wrong with that?
“Ultimately the numbers will decide who will be the PM. It is not the God-given right of Mr Modi alone to say that he can be the Prime Minister and nobody else can be the Prime Minister,” he said.
Asked about the Congress’ proposed NYAY scheme, under which Rs 6,000 per month will be given to 5 crore poorest families, Chidambaram said the party has already explained the arithmetic behind the scheme and so far, nobody has challenged the arithmetic.
“So why it should hurt the economy? When we said MNREGA, they said it will hurt the economy. When we said agricultural loan waiver, they said it will hurt the economy. When we said right to food security, they said it will hurt the economy. But all these were implemented.
“So when we said NYAY, don’t we know what we are talking about? We have done our math. We are absolutely confident that the programme can be implemented without compromising the fiscal prudence,” he said.
On the prospect of UPA in his home state Tamil Nadu, the senior Congress leader said the alliance may win more than 33 seats.
“Out of the 38 seats in Tamil Nadu where elections were held, our assessment is that the DMK-Congress alliance can win 33 plus seats,” he added.