If Modi becomes the prime minister, do you think he is going to run this country?
Having just flown in from Gujarat for the India Today Conclave, former Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal used the occasion to launch a full-frontal attack on BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and the widely touted Gujarat development model. The move was clearly planned as the next step in the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) political strategy and Kejriwal clearly indicated that he felt that the Congress was an enemy already vanquished. “Everybody is unhappy with the UPA. The UPA is going to vanish but what is the alternative?” he asked the audience.
Over the last year, Kejriwal explained, he had heard the media laud Modi as the most capable administrator in the world. “It has been said that in Gujarat, there is Ram Rajya. We are being told there is no corruption there. It has been said there is a high level of education and that healthcare services have improved,” he told the audience. Over the next 30 minutes, Kejriwal systematically explained how the Gujarat he encountered had numerous instances of poverty, corruption and neglect of public services. But while it was a bold and innovative attack on Modi, at the end of the session it was clear that Kejriwal was not presenting himself as the answer. He spoke of a leadership crisis in the country. When asked point blank by a member of the audience whom she should choose, considering Kejriwal was bent on telling people why they should not vote for others, he said he did not have an answer. Here are some excerpts from the session: CORRUPTION IN GUJARAT
“People in Gujarat told me that to get any work done in government offices, you have to pay bribe. For instance, if you want to get a peon’s job in the state, you have to pay Rs 10 lakh as bribe. If you want to become an assistant registrar, you have to pay Rs 33 lakh as bribe. Even if a police officer wants to get a transfer, he has to give at least Rs 2.75 lakh.” CRUMBLING INFRASTRUCTURE We have heard so many times that the Gujarat government provides 24-hour electricity to its people. I
I ASKED PEOPLE IF THEYARE SO ANGRY WITH MODI, THEN WHY DO THEY VOTE FOR HIM?
THEY SAID THERE’S NO
CREDIBLE OPPOSITION. THE CONGRESS IS BAD, NOBODY
met farmers. They said that their applications for power connections, for more than 400,000 of them have been lying unattended for years. They do not get any electricity. How can they operate their irrigation equipment?”
“At one place, I stopped my car and called the people who were showing me black flags. They said I was doing negative propaganda against Modi. They said, ‘We have beautiful roads and highways’. I said, ‘Let’s go to the villages and see’. But there were no roads. I have clicked many photographs. In Modi’s own constituency, there are no proper roads. This is where he belongs, from where he has won elections for the last 15 years. I went to a school there. There was filth all around it.” EDUCATION IN SHAMBLES
“There is a village called Wao Taluka. I visited a college there. The college had 618 students but only two teachers. You cannot run a college like this. It needs many teachers. Can you guess the salary of each teacher? Rs 5,300 per month. This is even less than the minimum wage. How can you run a family of five with a salary of Rs 5,300 a month?” POOR HEALTHCARE
“In Badi Pipli, villagers took me to the primary health centre. It was a dilapidated building without a roof. Its walls had collapsed and it was being used as a garbage dump by the villagers. I took photos of the building. They said that it was built in 2003.
But it has not been made functional till now.” DYING INDUSTRY
“What is the condition of small-scale industry in Gujarat? A large number of small-scale industries have closed down in the last 10 years. I visited Mehsana as well as met an industrialist there. He said 147 of the 187 factories in that area have closed down. This is the Gujarat model of development: Shut small-scale and medium-scale industry and give benefits to only a few large-scale industrialists like Adanis, Ambanis.” QUESTIONS FROM THE AUDIENCE Audience You started off by telling us the many reasons why we should not vote for Modi. You were asked whether you’d like to rule the country. You said no. So obviously there is major confusion. You don’t want us to vote for him. You don’t want to be in power. How are these problems going to be solved? Kejriwal I don’t have easy answers to that. Audience But there has to be some solution. Kejriwal There is a leadership crisis in this country. The choices that we have are not right. I presented all the facts that came in front of me while touring Gujarat. It is up to you. The country is going through a severe crisis. We will have to understand that. If we still feel that this person or that person is good, then you might go and vote for them. Audience It sounds easier said than done. Kejriwal I don’t have any answer. Audience Who do we vote for then? At least in Narendra Modi, we have a choice, who is telling us what good he is doing. You are telling us what he is not doing, but you are not telling us that you are willing to stand there and fight for everything. You just tell us don’t vote for him. What do we do now? Kejriwal AAP is a choice. Whether I will become PM or not is not important. Audience You said that a miracle happened on December 8 and then you resigned after 49 days. Now that AAP is contesting the Lok Sabha elections, can you assure the people of the country that you won’t leave the government at the next big hurdle that you face? Kejriwal Why won’t we leave? Lal Bahadur Shastri was railway minister. He resigned because of a train accident. Sticking to the chair is not good. That’s not what our culture teaches us. Neeraj Kumar (former Delhi police commissioner) You said only one rape
MODI DOESN’T ANSWER THE MEDIA OR HOLD PRESS CONFERENCES. THE PEOPLE OF THIS COUNTRY WANTTO ASK HIM SOME QUESTIONS. THERE ARE SO MANY DOUBTS
MIND.’’ IN OUR BJP LEADERS BOUGHT LAND AT RS 50,000 PER ACRE IN CHARANKA BECAUSE THEY KNEWA SOLAR PARK WOULD BE BUILT. THE GOVERNMENT BOUGHT IT FROM THEM FOR RS 27 LAKH
case, the December 16, 2012 case, was solved. This is completely wrong: 87 per cent rape cases are solved in Delhi, every year. And if you want to misguide this gathering... Kejriwal No sir. I was misinterpreted. I was pointing towards the judicial system. You file the chargesheet. A case goes on in court for years. Audience If you become the PM, what kind of relationship with Pakistan and China will you have? FDI in retail which was a liberal economic policy. Why did you decide to scrap it? Kejriwal We should have peaceful and cordial relations with all the countries. But we should be at one level. We should not let other countries dominate us. As far as FDI in retail is concerned, we were told that if FDI in retail is implemented, employment will increase, farmers will get remunerative prices, consumers will get better prices, cold storage chains would come. But we have studied FDI in many countries and we have seen that unemployment increases with FDI in retail. Therefore, we took the decision to scrap it in Delhi.