In his most comprehensive interview after taking guard in his first innings as Union Home Minister, with News18 Network Group Editor-in-Chief Rahul Joshi, Amit Shah spoke on a wide range of issues: the Narendra Modi government's achievements, the economic slowdown, the upcoming elections, the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, the party's equations with its allies, the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, and the protracted Ayodhya dispute.
Shah laid down a 15-year development road map to restore normalcy in Kashmir. He was also confident that the government's move to strip Jammu and Kashmir of its special status would clear any legal test.
On the Ayodhya issue, the minister said he was sure that the judgment of the Supreme Court, whatever its form, would be accepted by both parties.
After Assam, Shah also made it clear that the government would hold a nationwide NRC and said the BJP would make this an election issue in West Bengal. He also predicted a two-thirds majority for his party in the upcoming Assembly polls.
Shah announced that Nitish Kumar would be the National Democratic Alliance's (NDA's) chief ministerial candidate in Bihar for the 2020 Assembly elections, putting to rest speculation of a tussle between the BJP and its ally Janata Dal (United).
In Maharashtra, he said the BJP will keep the chief minister's chair if the NDA were to form the government, but indicated the party’s willingness to negotiate with the Shiv Sena over the deputy chief minister's post after the elections.
Shah said that the Modi government is moving in the right direction with its economic measures while also fixing the mistakes and scams from the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) era. He also rejected charges that the BJP was using investigating agencies against rivals as an act of vendetta.
Here's the full transcript of the interview:
This is your first interview to Network 18 since becoming the home minister. Many congratulations to you for that. You won 305 seats and came back to power. Many congratulations to you for that as well. My first question to you is that right now we are sitting at 6-A, Krishna Menon Marg – Atal Bihari Vajpayee used to live here. In 1996, you handled his election campaign. So, what did you feel when you came here for the first time?
I used to come to this house many times when Atal ji lived here. On every happy occasion, all BJP leaders used to visit him to take his blessings, including me. Many memories of the party are attached to this house and I felt great when this house was allotted to me.
You used to be an ordinary worker of the BJP. From there you became the BJP president, and today you are India's home minister. People say you are the second most powerful leader in this country. How do you view this journey?
This is the speciality of the BJP's methodology that if you have the dedication and the capacity to work hard, if you have the allegiance to the party, the party slowly makes you bigger and bigger. In every person's life, there are good and bad days, but keeping your allegiance to the party, if you have given your trust to the party, then I believe you will never be disappointed in the Bharatiya Janata Party. There are many workers like me who became big politicians from small workers. In fact, most of our leaders started their careers from the bottom. So, it is the party methodology which makes big politicians out of small workers and it is the party itself which takes them forward.
We had asked you this question multiple times, whether you will become a part of the Cabinet or which Cabinet post you will get. But I have this question in my head I wanted to ask. Two days before the announcement of the Union Cabinet, everyone was saying you will become the finance minister. In fact, a few channels even broke this story and ran it multiple times. So how did this happen? Was there any truth in this or not? How did you become the home minister?
In the BJP, especially when Narendra Modi is the prime minister, this kind of assessment should not be made. It is our Constitution's arrangement that first the Cabinet ministers are selected and after that specific ministries are distributed or assigned. This is the special right of the prime minister which the Constitution has given him. So, I believe that thinking or assessing this too much is a waste of time. For many years, Narendra Bhai has overseen the organisational work in Gujarat as well as the entire nation. So, he knows many party workers personally. I believe he takes his decision based on his experience and the capability of the workers and our aim is to make his decision successful.
So there were never any talks to take up the finance minister's post?
They were only reports in the media.
Right now, you're the home minister as well as the BJP president. You've been the type of president who has completely changed the party in the last five years. I remember I was interviewing the prime minister and he said the entire credit for success goes to Amit Bhai, the way he has run the party. Today at this juncture, in some months you might get appointed to another post. Will you be involved with the party in the same way even after that?
As far as the BJP is concerned, whatever the new chief asks me to do, I will definitely do it. But even as a worker, I have some responsibility to make the party successful and give my full energy to the party chief to make it successful.
There are some states in the east and south where the BJP has not been that successful. So will you keep an eye on these eastern and southern states?
In the east and the south, there are two different types of stages. In the east, we have achieved success in the Lok Sabha elections. In West Bengal, we won 18 seats. We swept the entire north-east. We swept Assam. We won eight seats in Odisha. All of this is not less. We're somewhere near the halfway mark. In the south, we're yet to achieve big successes. Due to some special circumstances, we did not achieve as much success as we were expecting. We performed well in Telangana but in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, our performance was not good. In Karnataka, our performance was excellent. So even in the south, in Telangana and Karnataka, the BJP has achieved modest success. I think in the next five years, the BJP will make itself successful in these remaining states as well.
West Bengal is scheduled to go to the polls in the next 1.5 years. How do you see your situation in Bengal? What do you think will happen in those elections? You give a prediction every time.
My prediction says the BJP will form the government in Bengal with a two-thirds majority.
With a two-thirds majority?
Yes, with a two-thirds majority. When I used to say we will win 20 seats, the media used to doubt me. We have already won 18 seats and in three we lost with a margin of 5,000-7,000 votes even after so much violence and rigging. At that time the people of Bengal had doubts whether the BJP will win or not. Now, this doubt is no longer there in the minds of the people as the BJP has won 18 seats.
Who will be your (party's) face in Bengal?
The party's face has not been decided so far. Whether there will be a CM face or not, even that has not been decided. The people of Bengal have made up their minds that they want to remove this government and we have emerged as the biggest opposition.
Sourav Ganguly met you and there is a lot of speculation in the media that he might be the BJP's face. Mukul Roy came after leaving behind Mamata Banerjee.
There were no discussions on politics with Sourav ji.
There won't be any in the future either?
Right now there weren't any.
So you're not saying that there won't be any in the future. They might happen?
Anything can happen in the future but right now there haven't been any discussions.
You have Mukul Roy in the party as well. Even he can be the CM face?
There is a lot of time left for the elections right now. At that time, the party will decide whether we want to present a face to the people or we want to fight the elections in the name of the party. We will decide all of this at that time.
Five months ago, your party came to power. Even Sachin Tendulkar used to take two to four overs to settle and then he used to hit fours and sixes. But your party immediately started working. We have a lot of questions, including on Kashmir. But first of all, let's discuss the upcoming elections. Maharashtra and Haryana: how do you see these two states? Let's discuss Maharashtra first. How do you see it?
In Maharashtra, this five-year journey has been very interesting and successful. In 2014, we could not agree on an alliance with the Shiv Sena, so we went alone and emerged as the single-largest party. The Shiv Sena and the BJP ran a five-year government and our leader Devendra Fadnavis became the chief minister. For five years, the duo of Narendra Modi and Devendra Fadnavis has done excellent work. During the 15-year rule of the UPA, Maharashtra, which used to be number one in education, number one in agriculture, number one in investment, number one in FDI and number one in cooperatives, in all these things, it went below 15. During the five years of our government, in such a small time, it is again back in the top five. This is a very good performance. Even Narendra Modi ji left no stone unturned for the development of Maharashtra. Under the Congress, the Centre used to give Rs 1 lakh 22 thousand crore to the state in five years. The BJP gave Rs 4 lakh 78 thousand crore in five years.
Three times more?
In five years, not a single charge of corruption has been laid against Devendra Fadnavis. Even the opposition could not do that. Even at the Centre, there is not a single charge of corruption against Narendra Modi. We have given transparent governance, keeping in mind the nation's requirements for the next 20 years. We have built the base infrastructure and the beginning of new infrastructure. I believe we have given very good facilities in multiple sectors. In the agriculture sector and cooperative sector, we have done very good work. In my three tours of the state, I have found that the people of Maharashtra are completely behind the BJP.
How many seats will you give to your alliance?
I think our alliance will get more than two-thirds of the seats.
But how many will the BJP win in that?
Right now, it is difficult to make any such prediction but the BJP will make a lot of progress.
So you're saying that the BJP can single-handedly move towards the majority mark? You can move towards 164 seats?
Yes, we can reach there as well. It is not impossible.
You have said you have achieved so much in five years but even after that why does it seem like a bad marriage between the BJP and the Shiv Sena? Why does it seem like you are not happy even after being together?
In an alliance, many times there is pressure from the workers. Everyone wants to expand their own party. I don't consider such negotiations bad. These are signs of a healthy alliance. In the past, whether it was the Lok Sabha or the Vidhan Sabha polls, our alliance has been successful. In the Lok Sabha as well, the cadre of both the parties fought together and won. Even in the Vidhan Sabha polls, we are fighting together and we will win.
Even after all this, Shiv Sena said the chief minister will be from their party. Even though they are contesting fewer seats and have fewer seats than you, still they are making such claims.
I don't believe this is a threat to the alliance. It is very clear that in the new government, Devendra Fadnavis from the BJP will become the chief minister.
So there are no second thoughts on the CM post, but can there be a deputy CM from the Shiv Sena?
Devendra Fadnavis and his team will decide this after looking at the results. The parliamentary board of the BJP will then take a call.
So if the results are good, there is scope for a deputy CM from the Shiv Sena?
All options are open as of now. The BJP parliamentary board and the Maharashtra unit will discuss and decide.
What is the situation in Haryana? You have been there. How many seats will you give yourself in Haryana?
Even in Haryana, the situation is very good. The effect of removing Article 370 has been very positive there because Haryana is one of the states which sends the most number of personnel to the Army. In Haryana as well, there has been a government with zero corruption. Even there the UPA government gave Rs 22,000 crore in five years. Modi ji's government has given close to Rs 1 lakh 17 thousand crore. There is change that has come in and a lot of work has happened. There isn't a single district in Haryana without roads. Four-lane roads, six-lane roads, infrastructure, electricity supply, tackling farmer issues, whatever amount of grain has come in, we have bought that at the minimum support price.
You're still not giving a number.
It won't be right to give a number as of now but even there we will cross the two-thirds majority mark.
That means much better than the last time.
How much is the Jat vs non-Jat factor playing in your favour?
In five years, this politics of casteism has been diluted 100%. The biggest achievement of Narendra Modi towards democracy in this country has been the end of politics of casteism, nepotism and appeasement. After 1966, it seemed evident that these three factors have become ingrained in the politics of this country. But between 2014 and 2019, we have achieved much relief from all these three factors.
Let's move a bit forward now. When will the Delhi elections take place according to you?
They will happen when the Election Commission says. Usually it takes place at the end of January or in the beginning of February.
How do you see the BJP's prospects there?
We will achieve excellent results there. We won all three municipal corporations there. We won all the Lok Sabha seats and the disenchantment with the current government is evident.
Last time you did not have a face there. This time as well you don't have a face there. You think that will be a disadvantage to you?
It's not like we won't discuss a CM face. The party will think about it.
So you will put forward a face?
I have confidence that because of the disenchantment with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government, only the BJP can be an alternative because in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and the Lok Sabha polls, we were the single largest party and won convincingly.
Arvind Kejriwal has changed his strategy. Before this, he used to attack the PM a lot. He hasn't been attacking the PM for the last two years and even on Article 370, he was the first person to support you.
That is fine. There is no correlation between performance and this. If one thinks that votes are garnered on the basis of these surface comments, I don't believe in that philosophy. Your performance on the ground plays a major role.
Another crucial state that will go to polls in the next one-and-a-half years is Bihar. You are in a coalition government there with Nitish and the last time you faced a situation of a bad marriage. Nitish didn't come to the swearing-in ceremony. Since then...
He was at the ceremony.
I meant he was very non-participative in the government and there has been a continuous tussle between you two. Will you go to the polls alone in Bihar?
The BJP and the JD(U) will go to the polls together and we will fight the elections under the leadership of Nitish Kumar. This is clear as far as Bihar is concerned. At the national level, as far as the NDA is concerned, we work together in the arena of national politics under the leadership of PM Modi.
So you are saying that everything is fine between you two?
In a coalition, there are always disagreements. They should be there as these are signs of a healthy coalition. But, difference in views have not turned into major issues. We will fight together.
Kashmir has topped the headlines. You have restored communication services. I have a broad question. How will the situation improve in Kashmir? The PM was saying it will take four months for the situation to improve in the Valley. What steps will you take to ensure that?
There were three issues with respect to Kashmir — separatism and terrorism, rampant corruption, and the absence of a blueprint for the state's development. I think the root cause of all three issues was Article 370. Pakistan influenced the local youth just because of Article 370. First with secession — from a separate state to 'azaadi' (freedom) — if not that, turn them to terrorism and hand them guns. Since the 1990s, 40,000 people have been killed and if someone does a detailed study of this, you quickly understand that Article 370 is responsible. We have tried to stop the root cause of terrorism by abrogating Article 370 and in this direction, I hope we will move successfully.
Secondly, there was no anti-corruption bureau. Under Article 370, there was no anti-corruption bureau and today all laws of the country are applicable there. Now the ED (Enforcement Directorate), I-T (Income Tax Department) and ACB (Anti-Corruption Bureau) have powers there. We have tightened the screws around the menace of corruption. Central aid and state revenue are now reaching the public. This will increase development. Under the 73rd Amendment, a big part of the budget used to be allotted for local body polls but they were never used. Panch, sarpanch and zila pachayat — these polls would never happen. Since the 73rd and 74th Amendment are applicable, we will conduct the polls regularly now. Right now, block development council polls are ongoing and we have allotted a huge amount of Rs 6,500 crore directly to the panchayats. This will also boost development work in villages.
Thirdly, a group of experienced administrators are making a 15-year roadmap for the development of Jammu and Kashmir and I believe based on that, if we develop the infrastructure, education, health, industry and tourism sectors of the Valley, nobody can stop the state from becoming a developed one. The major hurdle for all of these was Article 370 and Article 35A, which we have successfully removed.
Will there be a special package for Jammu and Kashmir?
PM Modi had already issued a special package for the state but there was no implementation as there was so much corruption. Now, with a vision and blueprint, we will move towards progress.
These polls that you are talking about include only BJP leaders and a few other independents. What is the purpose of that?
In many parts of the country, parties are not supposed to contest the panchayat elections. Everyone fights independently. Many states are like that. Voters of villages choose their panchs and sarpanches and it is on them that the responsibility of development falls. These leaders sit with the villagers and decide what are the priorities, be it the panchayat ghar, school rooms, drinking water facilities or strengthening sanitation. When a village sets its priorities, then the pace of development increases.
When you announced the decision, you were applauded by the Indian press. However, the same wasn't the case with the foreign media, especially the issue of house arrest of local leaders. How long will these leaders remain in detention under the PSA (Public Safety Act)?
The Congress as well as the National Conference (NC) is trying to make this an issue. Even when there had been no scrapping of Article 370 and the politics of the Valley had not been turned on its head, even then the Congress kept Sheikh Abdullah in jail for 11 years and the CM was also jailed. We just took a big step and if we feel there is any intention to incite violence, then we have to take these preventive measures. Our top priority is peace in Kashmir.
When will statehood be restored to J&K? Have you set a time frame?
I can't say anything as it will be completely dependent on the situation in the state. If everyone cooperates, then the situation might normalise soon and it could be done quickly.
How will the government attract investment to the Valley?
There are many opportunities for investment in the Valley, be it tourism, mining, education or health. There are a lot of opportunities, but Article 370 created hurdles.
The attacks that are happening there on people like farmers…
They don't happen every day. There have been four attacks in two months. Since the 1990s, there were roughly 16-18 attacks a month.
So you say it has fallen?
They have fallen by a great margin. We will bring them down further.
Do you see a non-Muslim CM in Kashmir?
You shouldn't think like that. The people of Kashmir will decide the CM of the state. It doesn't matter if the CM is a Hindu or a Muslim. Kashmir will elect the CM.
A constitutional bench has been formed to hear pleas against the abrogation of Article 370. What if the judgment comes against it? What have you decided?
I was involved in the process of drafting the Bill. I can tell you this Bill will pass all legal tests. That is what I believe.
Let's turn to some political questions. You recently said that a multi-party democracy hasn't been a successful format. What would you like to say on that?
I never said that. I said that before 2014 for 10 years, the way the UPA government functioned, people had lost faith in the multi-party democratic system. People would protest and come out on the streets. There were protests by Anna Hazare and Ramdev. One after another, scams worth Rs 12 lakh crore came tumbling out. The borders weren't safe, women weren't safe. An uncertain environment was in place. After forming a majority government in 2014, within five years, people's faith in a multi-party system has been restored. This is my statement.
I just wanted a clarification. Another hot topic that has been in discussion is the issue of lynching. Even Mohan Bhagwat said recently that lynching isn't a part of Indian culture. How will you solve this issue?
If any person is killed, we have Section 302 for that and that has been applied everywhere. BJP governments have investigated such matters and charge-sheeted suspects and some people have been convicted as well. Now, if you want to give it a political angle or you want to understand this as a social evil, that is what society has to decide. I believe that by creating awareness about this evil, the issue can be resolved. The instances of so-called mob lynching haven't increased under the BJP. A certain propaganda is being created about this. If any loot used to happen in villages and the people after getting hold of the thief would thrash him resulting in death. That would happen in the past as well. A colour is being given to these incidents and that is not right.
Don't you think most of the victims in such incidents are Muslims or Dalits?
It isn't as such. You can look at the analysis of previous incidents too. Such incidents happen to the poor.
Would you bring a law to tackle this issue?
There are laws. There is a need to properly investigate the matter and apply those laws. The Home Ministry has issued an advisory in the matter too.
Recently you said only Hindi can connect this country. That created a controversy. What would you have to say about that?
Please listen to my entire address. In that address I said there is a need to strengthen all languages in India. But, at times, English is used as a medium of communication between different states. Instead of that, if we use Hindi, that would empower the language.
You were pitching Hindi in the context of English?
I have said many times during that address that we need to strengthen our languages. Hindi isn't in competition with any local language. Even I come from a non-Hindi state.
We heard that you laid an impetus on Hindi the moment you took charge.
The department of official language is a part of my portfolio.
PM Modi applauded Tamil at an address saying it is one of the oldest languages in the world. He was also seen wearing a 'veshti' in Tamil Nadu. Is this your way of trying to woo south Indian voters?
All the cultures of this country are represented by PM Modi. It shouldn't be seen as political.
So, it is in no way influenced by the RSS? There is no such thing as ‘one nation, one language’?
I clarified and I say this again that during the address, I said all languages should be strengthened. Our local languages are more prosperous than any foreign language.
The opposition claims that agencies are being used to silence them. Be it Praful Patel or P Chidambaram or DK Shivakumar. But such things aren't applicable to BJP leaders. What do you say?
Let me clear something. A lot of FIRs were registered during the UPA regime. We are investigating the matter and are accused of political vendetta. If it would have been vendetta, then why would this have taken six years? Wouldn't we have taken them into custody in one-and-a-half years using some means? There has been a thorough investigation and agencies are performing their duties. The same media would cry hoarse about the Rs 12 lakh crore scam and say no action has been taken. Many Congress leaders gave speeches that if we indulged in corruption, then arrest us. When the agency goes to arrest them, then they create a drama. It is about timing. There was an FIR against Sonia Gandhi by a private complainant, Subramanian Swamy. She got out on bail. Which election was going on at that time? P Chidambaram was arrested. Which election was going on then? There was no election. DK Shivakumar was arrested and no election was going on there as well. The UPA government itself filed FIRs according to CAG reports, CVC or Supreme Court orders. Under those FIRs investigations are going on. I want to tell everyone that no investigation is final. Our Constitution gives us that right. You can challenge it. They should go to court and they are going. If the court is not supporting their claims, then how is it political?
When Chidambaram was the home minister, the agencies were after you as well. Don't you think even he was under pressure at that time?
The CBI registered an FIR against me when Chidambaram was the home minister and the CBI does not come under the Home Ministry. Even today the CBI and the ED do not fall under the Home Ministry. So first keep aside the Home Ministry. When that FIR was filed against me, I approached the high court. The court in a month said there is no prima facie case against Amit Shah. I came out free. They could not frame charges against me. The Supreme Court then said it is a clear-cut case of political vendetta.
So you agree that the agencies can be used for political vendetta?
Only if they want to.
You are saying that you are not using agencies for this?
I can say that we are not doing it. If we were, that would have happened a long time back. The court is open for everyone.
Talking about the NRC, when will it be implemented? What is your roadmap? You talk about NRC coming before every election.
Obviously before 2024.
This will be applicable throughout the nation?
The illegal immigrants you are talking about, where will they go? How will you do that?
A legal process will be followed. A United Convention convention is set up. Rules are there and it will happen following those laws.
You believe this can be done? As we saw in Assam, the process is faulty.
We will study the process, plug the loopholes and create a new system.
So you agree that such problems were there?
The process is still going on. It will not be right for me to speak on it.
You have talked about NRC in Bengal as well. Will you stick to that? Will this be a big topic of discussion for the Bengal elections?
This is an election matter.
Do you think the success you achieved in the last election was because of this?
There are other matters as well but this was one of them.
The detention camps you are talking about, the ones being constructed in thane and Bengaluru, what will you achieve through them?
The process will be managed by the tribunal. Administration starts the preparation side by side. There is a legal process as far as tribunals are concerned. The process has just started.
Are the detention camps also a part of the process?
The administration prepares in advance, but the process is still going on.
You have said that all Hindus, Christians, Buddhists and Jains are safe in this country. You did not mention Muslims. Why so?
I did not say they will be safe. I said we will give them citizenship. The reason is if minorities from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh come here to save their lives from persecution then they are refugees, not illegal immigrants. If someone comes here illegally to earn a livelihood or to disrupt law and order, then they are intruders.
You are saying that Muslims were not mentioned because they are intruders and came here with an agenda?
I did not call them intruders. I said it is not possible for them to be religiously persecuted. During Partition, there were 30% Hindus in Pakistan. Now 6% are left. Where did they go?
What is your next step? When will you enforce the Uniform Civil Code?
This is a part of our manifesto. The party and government will act on this at the right time. We cannot give a set time frame and we should not in this kind of an interview.
So this will be a part of your agenda?
Of course, it is a part of our manifesto. The government has come on the basis of our manifesto.
Let's talk about the Ram Mandir. Wednesday was the last day of the hearing. How are you looking at this? What are your expectations from the judgment?
This has been pending since 1950. A lot of time has passed and now the judgment has been reserved. It will come soon. I believe, whatever judgment comes, both parties should accept it equally.
If the judgment is in favour of the Hindu parties, when will the Ram Mandir be made?
This is not a matter for speculation. SC judges have heard this matter. Whatever the judgment, I am sure both parties will accept it.
After this judgment, do you feel other disputed areas like Mathura and Kashi will also take this route?
I don't think so. No one can predict these things. However, this matter will be solved by this judgment and I am sure of that. Both sides will accept it.
Apart from HM, you are also a tall leader of the BJP, you are heading many Groups of Ministers (GoMs). Today, the country is concerned over the economy. You have been in business and dealt with the stock market. If you look at the GDP, no matter whose opinion you look at, be it the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the World Bank, or the International Monetary Fund (IMF), numbers are dropping. There is a drop in the auto sector, real estate and exports. The sentiment is bad. How can you improve this?
I will answer this in two parts. Firstly, in the case of the slowdown, after 1990 the world and India became globalised and liberalised. As time went on, the entire world's economy is one. The slowdown is not only in India; this is global. Because of the global slowdown, India's economy will get affected due to globalisation. It is not right to take India’s GDP numbers alone and compare it with the figures of the same quarter last year. You should look at the top 10 economies and at how their GDPs have dropped and by what per cent. Then you can compare how much India has dropped. This comparative study must be done. This is the best way to assess our performance.
Secondly, how to get out of this. Since the global slowdown began, India's finance minister has consulted with many traders, CAs and economists. Many things have come out of this. The government has been able to come out with many decisions. Luckily, the kharif crop has fared well. The entire country has received plentiful rain. Kharif crop alone must fare between Rs 5-6 lakh crore. These new steps taken by the finance minister will show their effects soon. The situation will improve eventually.
Corporate tax was cut. It was praised by global investors and I feel it will give a boost to investment in the coming days. But the problem today is of demand-led growth. There is no demand today. Will we see a cut in personal income tax in the near future?
That will be decided by the finance minister. The Budget will come in February. I can't say anything on that. The finance minister and the PM will decide. But the corporate tax cut was a long-term step to make India a lucrative destination for global investment. I believe this will lead to greater investment here.
I was talking to a CEO a few days earlier; he said if we see India from the world's perspective, then one thing that pinches is the risk in the country has increased because there is no consistency of policy. This was his opinion, I thought of presenting it to you.
I don't think he has done a detailed study. In the last six years, PM Modi has given a stable economy and the country is moving forward.
Raghuram Rajan says due to majoritarianism and over-centralisation, economic decision-making has become slow. Do you agree with that?
I don't want to comment on Raghuram Rajan's remarks. I don't want to invite controversy. But I want to say that policy-making is the work of select representatives and parliament.
I agree with you when you say that when assessing the GDP, we should compare it with others and even today India is doing well in comparison to other countries. India's internal problem is that there is a lot of strain in the financial sector. A lot of banks have moved towards liquidation, there is stress on public sector banks as well, and old scams are coming out. This is hurting sentiments and it is not clear as to how this situation will be handled. what will you say on this?
The way the UPA government ran for 10 years, in reference to the GDP, the growth that should have happened is now taking place at a faster rate. Scams have taken place sometime or the other and we will have to clean the balance sheets of the banks or do we build our economy on the basis of those scams? During this process a few shocks will definitely be suffered, but the government has done a detailed study and found solutions. Slowly the economy will come back on track. As far as the banking sector is concerned, for 10 years banking was done through special calls, letters and recommendations ('sifaarish'). We inherited a mess and citizens have given us the responsibility to correct it and I feel that in five years, PM Modi has taken courageous steps.
You are saying you will end this stress in the financial sector. You are giving an assurance to depositors and shareholders that a solution will be found?
Definitely, a solution will be found.
This is the biggest sentiment dragger in the economy right now.
There were talks about Veer Savarkar being conferred the Bharat Ratna. What do have to say about that?
I don't know the rules right now. I will have to look into it but my view on Savarkar is very clear. There are very few people like Savarkar who are patriots and very few families like the Savarkar family who sacrifice for the nation. There is no person in the country who in one life was given two life sentences. There is no other person in this country who was tortured in jail and forced to extract coconut oil from coir. There is no other family in the country in which two brothers stayed in jail for 12 years and did not see each other for those 12 years. There is no other family in the country whose wealth was snatched by the British multiple times. People who are arguing with the legacy of Savarkar are playing with the history of the country. They are committing the sin of not letting people take inspiration from Savarkar.
Do you think India should be a Hindu Rashtra?
The concept of a Hindu Rashtra needs to be defined. Everyone imagines a Hindu Rashtra in different ways. India should work according to its Constitution and is doing just that.
You will turn 55 in a few days on October 22. Happy birthday to you in advance. What are you planning to do? Any celebrations?
No, I am not celebrating. I am travelling currently.
You won't spend time with your family?
No, my family is currently in Ahmedabad.
You were the president of the chess association for a long time. are you a chess lover? Is that how you learned the game of politics?
I have played chess since childhood. i have been the chess association president too.
Thank you for joining us, namaskar.