Jyotiraditya Scindia, Congress party’s chief whip in the Lok Sabha, has been in the forefront of the opposition party’s offensive against the NDA regime inside and outside the Parliament. In an interview to DK Singh, the former Union minister and four-term MP says that the NDA government is “of a few people, governed by a few people and for a few people”. Excerpts:
We are witnessing a new-found aggression in the Congress. How did it come about?
The party needed some time to do some internal introspection, get its strategy together, and define the important issues that it wanted to take up. I think that the inflection point came about in the winter session (of Parliament). The dynamism of our leadership under Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi has certainly added the necessary impetus to the new aggression.
There has been a lot of talk about the political metamorphosis of the Congress vice president after his return from a sabbatical. Were you also surprised?
Not at all. I have always believed that he has these values, these principles. He is very clear and articulate in his thought processes. He has displayed tremendous leadership capability over the last two months across the board whether it's pada yatra or his thoughts on various issues ranging from net neutrality to agrarian crisis. He has identified with various causes across the country, be it the real estate bill or fishermen’s issues.
Recent surveys have shown that Narendra Modi remains the most popular leader. Does it worry the Congress?
I don’t think there has been such a failure on so many counts within one year of any government coming to power - whether it is the slashing of funds in the social sector across education, health and even in the PM’s pet project, Swachha Bharat Abhiyan. You are also seeing a multitude of U-turns. This is the same party that opposed hiking FDI cap in insurance. Their outlook on Aadhar and DBT schemess was that they must be trashed; today they are looking at giving a legal backing.
NDA ministers have been courting one controversy after another...
You look at the number of statements their ministers have made including the controversy that erupted two-three days ago between two ministers – (Mukhtar Abbas) Naqviji on one side and Kiran Rijiju on the other - with the latter asking, ‘Are you going to throw me out of the country if I eat beef?’ I would like Yogi Adityanath’s response on that and the RSS’ response on that. You have ministers making statements like ramjada and the other word which I will not use. A lot of people say that these are fringe elements; I don’t think so. It's the main event. This is the thinking and principles of this party (BJP), which now, because they have a platform, are getting vented.
The BJP believes your stand on land bill would further alienate aspirational India from you…
Their argument is that ‘I need to take away your land without your consent because I want to build industry and your children will become employees of that industry’. So, you take away the only asset of a farmer so that his children would become employees as opposed to employers. How can you take away an industrialist's land without his consent?