Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi has great oratorical skills, but his words are not matched by deeds or facts said Shashi Tharoor, Congress MP and chair of the Parliamentary Committee on External Affairs. He cited the example of Modi’s call for toilets for all by 2019. “In Gujarat 66 percent of the population still practice defecation in open places. He could not or did not do much to end it when he was chief minister there for a decade,” Tharoor added at a reception organized by the Indian National Overseas Congress, USA in New York City. The reception was held at the Utsav Restaurant in New York city.
Tharoor, one of the few senior leaders to visit the US after the defeat of the Congress in the Lok Sabha elections said that everything is not lost for the Congress party and said it could still come back to power in five years.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit shows the difference of the culture between the BJP and the Congress, he noted. When Modi goes out, it seems like it is the only news in town. Modi’s activities in the US are quite unusual for a prime minister.
At the same time, we should distinguish between a prime minister and his party. “We support the prime minister and his vision for the government, but we oppose his political vision.” However, he said the party has acknowledged the verdict of the people.
Every day Modi gets a headline, on the 100th day, then on the 101st and so on. He is a great communicator, however, his PR machine is always in high gear and everything seems to be stage managed, Tharoor said.
Media appears to have lost access to him. He will speak only on his own terms. He will not accommodate media people in his plane like Dr. Manmohan Singh, who used to bring 50-60 media people with him. The prime minister needs only a small plane in such a scenario.
Modi’s interview to CNN sent out the right notes, Tharoor said. “He spoke only of good things. You cannot find any mistakes in them. But nobody is looking at the gap between what he is saying and doing.”
Modi is still enjoying popular support, but after five years, he may be in for a disappointment.He creates good slogans like zero effect/zero defect. But Gujarat is the most polluted state. Compared to Kerala, Haryana or Maharashtra, the state is very behind in human resource development.
Tharoor also noted that Modi changed the UPA program for bank accounts for rural poor as Jan Dhan Yojana and earned the name of ‘name changer rather than game changer.
Though he speaks of unity and harmony, 600 communal clashes occurred after he became prime minister, but he kept his silence. The problems were mainly at places where by-elections were announced. An ‘unholy’ Yogi Adityanath tried to incite people. Yet, people did not favor BJP in by-elections. You cannot predict the mind of the Indian voter. When the RSS leader spoke that all Indians are Hindus, the prime minister did not utter a word to counter it. He cannot rein in his own party members.
Tharoor also noted the malnourishment of children in Gujarat and the decline in the proportion of females. He said that power is concentrated in one individual, who bypasses poor ministers and deals with officials directly.
Tharoor noted the success of Mangalyan, and termed it as the fruit of the vision of Nehru.
He said Congress lost mainly because of the anti-incumbency mood of the people. In the US, incumbents are reelected 96 percent of the time, while it is 26 percent in India. In states like Kerala, governments are voted out in every five years.
Another reason was the relentless attack on the government and the party accusing them of corruption. Anna Hazare’s movement against corruption captivated the minds of the people. But they forgot that no party has a monopoly on corruption, citing the examples like coffin scam during the rule of BJP earlier.
If BJP were ruling they would have faced the wrath of the people. It happened that Congress was the ruling party at that point in time and it became the target of the attack.Price rises of essential commodities and increase in the price of fuel were the other reasons that affected the Congress. The fuel price is determined internationally and India could not do much. When the UPA came to power, the price for one barrel of crude was $30 only. When the price increased, some of the pain had to be passed on to the consumers. When it came to power, BJP too had to increase the price of fuel to the anger of the consumers.
Due to the programs like the Mahathma Gandhi Rural Yojana, land prices had gone up and people were doing better, yet they did not favor Congress for another term.
In states like Andhra, where Congress got 36 seats last time, it was zero this time. The people in Telangana area were agitating for a separate state for long and Congress decided to create a new state. The result was that the party became unpopular in Andhra area. In Telangana, the people supported TRS which led the agitation.
Infighting too was another reason for the dismal show, he noted.
Hon. Shashi Tharoor praised the work of the INOC over the years in U.S. and urged everyone to get involved and make a difference.
INOC Chairman George Abraham and President Juned Qazi spoke, General Secretary Harbacan Singh welcomed the Chief Guest. Mohinder Singh Gilzian, Sr. Vice-President expressed vote of thanks. Karnataka Chapter President Dr. Dayan Naik also spoke. Kerala Chapter President R. Jayachandran honored the chief guest with a tri-color shawl. Malini Shah, Sabinal Ali and Sonia Sodhi presented Tharoor with bouquet of flowers. A plaque was presented to Arun Kumar Chodha by Tharoor honoring him for the service to the community.
Shashi Tharoor, M.P., Chairman, Parliamentary Committee on External Affairs
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