Disappointed with the continuous disruptions of Parliament proceedings that have stymied government’s crucial legislations, finance minister Arun Jaitley says in an interview to Deepak Kumar Singh that Indian politics has to decide whether it wants to impede or supplement growth. Excerpts:
Congress president Sonia Gandhi and other leaders have got bail in the National Herald case. Any comment?
That is a logical legal development. That is how the Congress should have contested it in the first instance. All I have said is there are many questions in the case. They created a chakravyuh for themselves. So, they have to find themselves an exit route.
Do you see it having any bearing on the Parliament session and GST, in particular?
The controversy did not come out of a government action. It came out of a private complainant. They lost the case in the high court. They should have legally contested it. Whether the case is made out or not made out, the court will decide that.
In mid-year review, India’s growth projection has been lowered…
India is one of the few countries that is able to defy the global slowdown. The world is moving slowly but we are still moving at a respectable pace. We are in a position to add one or two percent extra to our growth, to our GDP, provided both domestic and international factors stabilize. And one of the important domestic factors is the continuation of the reforms process. India has a great window because as the fastest growing global economy investors are looking at you. Indian politics has to decide whether it wants to be an obstacle to growth or be a supplement. We in government do not only have to decide policy, but we also have to perfect the art of crossing the obstacle race.
How worried are you about this projection?
In the current global situation, it is a good rate of growth. But it is still below our potential.
What about the implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission report?
It is a great burden but I do not grudge. For the first time in history, those serving the government would be paid better than those serving the private sector. Already the secretaries’ committee is working on it. We will do it expeditiously.
Post-Bihar polls, efforts are on to stitch a non-Cong, anti-BJP front. Do you see it happening?
In politics you will have ups and downs in assembly polls. There are too many contradictions even in the opposition. How can the DMK and the AIADMK come together? How can the Trinamool and the Left come together? It is easier said (than done). Everybody is not Lalu and Nitish.
Has the party done any self-introspection about what went wrong in Bihar?
I have always believed that the party and the government are going on the right track but a few developments take place, which become policy diversions. The lesson for us is to avoid that.