Information and broadcasting (I&B) minister Manish Tewari in an interview to HT on Sunday dismissed rumours of an early election, spoke on the economy and launched a blistering attack on Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, while hinting at a monsoon session soon.
Will the UPA convene the monsoon session of Parliament on time?
The government has never shied away from parliamentary business. If you can recall, both in 2010 and during the monsoon session of 2012, it was the Opposition which obstructed the House.
Even during the Budget session, it tried to score brownie points by stalling the proceedings.
As for us, we are not only eager to hold Parliament but also keen on carrying out legislative business and pass pending bills. It is a paradox that the BJP, which demands Parliament sessions, has not been allowing it to function even for a single day.
What about early elections?
The government has been given a term of five years and it must be allowed to complete it.
The BJP has not been able to reconcile with the mandate won by the UPA in 2009.
Any attempt to short circuit the tenure of the government will blow up in its face.
The Congress utilised Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi’s interview to a news wire last week to pillory him. What was so offensive about what he said?
The Gujarat chief minister said he was a Hindu nationalist. That begs the question that if people begin identifying themselves as Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Parsi or Rajput nationalists, will that strengthen or weaken the idea of India?
Now, this is something not merely rhetorical. Even Nathuram Godse (Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin) in his trial case called himself a Hindu nationalist.
Hindu nationalism is the logical delineation of the Sangh Parivar’s legacy.
Modi said he has no qualms or compunction about the state-sponsored pogrom of 2002 and with his command over analogy, he compared 20% of the population, in is terminology, as “kutte ka bachcha” (litters).
I leave it to the people of India to assess the mental make-up of such a divisive person. Would it be wise to follow such ideologies?
The government has faced a lot of flak from the courts on the question of the CBI’s autonomy. Its affidavit has spelt a roadmap to free the agency, but effective autonomy is still a long way off.
The affidavit contains some interim steps and these are extremely positive. My personal views on this, as reflected in my private member’s bill of 2010, are government oversight and autonomy can go hand in hand.
A slowing economy is bad news for any government heading into an election year. Your take?
If you look at the last Budget of 2013, the government eschewed any kind of populism. It is committed to reduce the current account and fiscal deficits. The rupee of course has run into some headwinds, given the environment of partial convertibility.
Your ministry is now looking to launch a major campaign on the food security law by weaving it into the Bharat Nirman drive.
Publicity is of two kinds, one is to give access to information for citizens, which in this case is information about entitlements. The other is about creating awareness. This is part of our remit at I&B ministry. Food security was part of Bharat Nirman 1 and will also be there in the second phase.