BJP president Amit Shah said on Wednesday that “Congress-mukt Bharat” is a “misunderstood phrase”.
At a media interaction to mark two years of the NDA government, Shah, referring to the phrase he has often used, said, “It is an expression against the avyavastha (disorder) under the Congress rule of decades where, for selfish interests of the party, Congressmen ignored national interests. We want India to get rid (mukt) of the system nurtured under Congress rule.”
Union Ministers Arun Jaitley, Manohar Parrikar, M Venkaiah Naidu and Suresh Prabhu were also present at the event. BJP national general secretary Ram Lal shared the stage with them.
Shah emphasised that in Uttar Pradesh, the incumbent Samajwadi Party is the BJP’s closest rival — a statement that could well be to deflect from the political buzz around the BSP, a year ahead of Assembly polls in the crucial state.
He sought to downplay any urgency for a Cabinet reshuffle, saying that the charge of the Sports Ministry had already been given to Jitendra Singh. He also reiterated his old complaint against the Delhi media, saying, “Our government’s good work hearsas reached the people of the country, but it is yet to reach Lutyens’ Delhi.”
Asked if the Centre was going on an overdrive to celebrate the NDA’s two years, with 200 rallies and programmes across India, he said, “Not at all. It is our tradition to present the report card directly to the people. Yeh desh bahut bada hai. Two hundred rallies sound big in numbers, but this country is too big to cover.”
To another question on whether Subramanian Swamy’s statements reflect the official position of the party, he said, “Whatever I say is official party view.”
He said the BJP will “not merely win Gujarat” but will return with two-thirds majority in the state, which goes to polls next year. That spirits are high in the party seemed clear when he said, “Mera body language bhi maeney rakhta hai (My body language also matters).”
Shah conceded that the tie-up between the Congress and the Left in West Bengal had hurt the BJP: “Gathbandhan na hota toh BJP ke liye kaafi achcha hota (The BJP would have benefited had there been no alliance).”
On the next table, Jaitley talked about bringing the GST Bill in the next session and refused to be drawn into any discussion on the RBI Governor. Questioning the Congress’s rationale behind a cap on GST, he said, “How can you have the same tax on Hawaii chappals and a Louis Vuitton purse?”
At the start of the event, MoS Nirmala Sitharaman presented some 50 slides on the government’s achievements and future plans summarising its schemes and initiatives: from financial inclusion to skill development, LPG subsidy to crop insurance. According to the slides, the government expects GDP growth at 7.6% in 2015-2016. Sitharaman also made it a point to mention how e-auctions of spectrum, coal blocks, minerals and radio channels were carried out but there was “not a word of corruption”.
The government said that for sake of good governance, some 10,000 cases were being withdrawn from tribunals and 5,700 from high courts. It said that 21.81 crore accounts had been opened under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, with Rs 37,616 crore deposited so far. Rs 61,822 crore had been transferred to some 31 crore beneficiaries under the direct benefit transfer scheme.
At one point, the MoS said that to access a government scheme, all one needs to do is “tweet or call” — she cited the example of Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu who, she said, responds to requests from individual passengers. While Parrikar praised insurance schemes, he took exception to a slide titled ‘Empowering the Poor’. “We should not say empowering the poor. Instead, we should say we will have a poverty alleviation programme. I will request them later,” he said.