Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Thursday dismissed allegations of a dual power centre hijacking the UPA government. He said that Congress party president Sonia Gandhi had not exercised any extra-constitutional authority or interfered in the functioning of the government.
In a conversation with senior editors of Hindustan Times in Mumbai, Chavan said that solely on the development plank, figures tell a story of success for the 10-year UPA regime but accepted that his party has been hit in the battle of perceptions and there is anger against the Congress over scams.
He also said corporate leaders are “completely backing” BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. “The corporate sector is angry with us in some cases like delays in environmental clearances that stalled projects, the Vodafone case and the FIR against (Kumar Mangalam) Birla. In the tenure of Pranab Mukherjee as finance minister there was an expectation of a more rapid passage of phase-2 reforms but these are tougher, not like phase-1 reforms (that were) ripe for the plucking,” Chavan said.
On the prospects of Modi making it to the top job in the country, the chief minister said he does not see this happening or the NDA mustering the required numbers to form the next government despite “the marketing blitz akin to a soap or toothpaste campaign”.
Admitting that these elections pose a challenge for the Congress, Chavan said Modi had in a way set the agenda by converting them into a presidential race backed by a marketing onslaught that focuses solely on him.
“His campaign style is extremely negative, centred around personal attacks instead of debates on policies and after a point we were forced to retaliate in a similar fashion,” he admitted.
He said the entire minority vote would get consolidated in defeating Modi as there are fears about him becoming PM.
Chavan pointed out that UPA-2’s biggest achievement was steering of the economy through difficult times but the government had not been successful in communicating this.
He also said the National Advisory Council (NAC) -- dubbed as the NGO brigade by critics -- was established by an executive order as the think tank of the government on social matters and was not a parallel power centre. “I think the NAC should continue as the conscience-keeper of the government.”'