A few weeks ago P. Chidambaram, Finance Minister in the UPA Government, claimed that fryingpakodas is not job creation. Being cleverer than rest of his colleagues, he perhaps was trying to neutralise the success story of the Mudra Yojana where 12.90 crore loans have been given for self-employment to various weaker sections. The total of these loans has touched Rs. 6 lakh crores. This obviously has led to millions of hands generating new work for themselves and those that they employ.
Two days ago, while addressing a gathering of what they claimed were their OBC supporters, Rahul Gandhi spoke on the entrepreneurial skills of Shikanjiwalas, dhabawalas and mechanics. Though factually what he stated was incorrect, the larger point is that he saw virtues in these professions which can act as a launch pad for many start-ups. The great grandson of the man who authored “The Discovery of India” could with his customary inaccuracies one day give to this country his monumental work on “The Rediscovery of Coca Cola”.
It is the NDA Government under Prime Minister Modi which realised the importance of millions of such self-employment opportunities for which in the year 2015 Mudra Yojana was launched. Most of the beneficiaries took small loans, were prompt in their repayment, set up small enterprises and gave themselves, and perhaps one or two people more, an employment. The UPA never did so. I repeat that it was the UPA which during 2008-2014 indiscriminately lent money through banks to these fifteen big defaulters. The Congress Party President prefers the Gobbelian traditions to say the exact opposite. What he claimed before the audience is precisely what we have successfully implemented.
Why does he believe that 2.5 lakh crores of bank loans have been waived? Is it because of his inability to understand that where Performing Asset is not serviced by the debtor, after ninety days it becomes Non Performing Asset. Its chances of recovery as per RBI guidelines, decline. There is a shift in the column that takes place and the bank has to make provisioning on the basis that the possibility of recovery declines. But the debtor liability remains. There is no waiver. When either through the IBC or through legal processes the debt is recovered back, the entry is reversed. For a President of a national party not to understand this basic procedure of bank functioning should be a matter of concern to the entire party as also the country. In dynastic parties political positions are heritable. Unfortunately wisdom is not heritable. It has to be acquired through learning.
Why this sudden love for the Other Backward Classes?
The OBCs deserted Congress Party in the early 1990s. The Congress was always anti-OBC. Late Shri Rajiv Gandhi made strong speech in Parliament against the Mandal Commission. Recently, the Congress Party opposed the grant of constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes. They voted against the constitutional amendment in Parliament. It opportunistically supported reservation for the non-backwards. It impliedly wants to reduce the quota for the OBCs knowing fully well that the judiciary will not allow 50 percent on reservations to be waived and the new claimants would eat into the OBC quota.
Rahul’s Other Gems
• Interacting with his interviewer in Singapore a few weeks ago, Rahul Gandhi left his audience stunned by suggesting if MRI machines in India were connected, this would lead to a Medical Revolution. How? Except breaching a patient’s privacy by sharing his details with other hospitals what would this achieve?
• He told an audience in Karnataka that his party believes that there should be only one GST rate as in Singapore. Singapore charges 7% GST on all food items, cheap clothing and footwear, medical and education spends as on luxury items – BMW cars, alcohol and five star hotels. India has exempted most food items. Should we have same rate for food items, hawaichappals and BMW cars? Singapore, unlike India, has no BPL or lower income groups.
• On education he believes we must have 200 IITs. The UPA never did so. It is the NDA which is now creating a network of IIT’s, IIM’s and AIIMS all over the country.
In all the above statements, there is no ideological pattern. Ignorance with anti-Modismis a common thread
Dynastic political parties are family and personality dominated. Ideology takes a back seat. You can oppose the OBC when it suits you. You can shed crocodile tears for them when the opportunism so requires. You can run down jobs created by frying pakodas. You can quantify on the virtues of running a dhaba.The leader’s ill-informed instincts become the ideology. This can only happen to a party which becomes ideologyless; pushes itself to the fringe; is willing to act as a tailender to regional parties. All this because its only obsession is a person called Narendra Modi.
(The writer is a Union Minister, GoI)