ALSO READRahul Gandhi's Congress campaign taking a leaf out of Trump's US prez bid? Modi Cabinet heads for reshuffle as Naidu steps down, 2019 LS polls near VHP prepares for 2019 LS polls, demands scrapping of minority commission Triple talaq verdict to shape BJP's 'New India' campaign for 2019 LS polls
Former union minister Arun Shourie on Friday likened reports by international rating agencies, such as Moody’s, to “schoolboy reports”. He said economic policy makers should not take either negative or positive ratings by international rating agencies seriously. Shourie, a union minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, bemoaned that policy makers in the Narendra Modi government lacked the “attention span” needed to reform the economy, which he said was a task akin to running a marathon. Speaking at a book launch event here, Shourie said he has worked in the World Bank for nine years. He said the time when India needed loans from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund is long past, but now these institutions desired accolades from India. To a question on the improved ratings by Moody’s and the World Bank, Shourie said the government has been “gaming the system”. While the Moody’s had recently improved India’s ratings, a World Bank survey had shown a significant improvement in India’s ‘ease of doing business’ ranking. Shourie said he cannot disclose private conversations he has had with people in the know, but information available in the public domain indicates that the World Bank teams visit specific cities where officials are forewarned about the visits and prepare suitably. The former union minister has of late been critical of the Modi government. Shourie said he had supported Modi for his development plank, but the government has not delivered. He termed the government a “one trick horse”, which would eventually make the Hindu-Muslim issue the dominant one in the political discourse. Quoting from a famous speech by VI Lenin, Shourie said it was time Opposition parties “must give history a helping hand” to ensure the defeat of the BJP in 2019. He said the Opposition should decide that there must be one candidate in every seat against BJP’s nominee in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. "If you really think the country is in peril... then you must get together. There must be one candidate against people who we all believe are taking the country to a dangerous zone," he said, sharing the dais with AAP chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Shourie’s comments came on a day West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee gave a similar call, saying democracy was under threat under the BJP rule as she asked Opposition parties to work together for the greater interest of the people before the next Lok Sabha polls. Shourie said judiciary should suo moto take up the issue of circumstances surrounding the death of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special judge BH Loya, and 10 eminent citizens could take it upon themselves to get to the bottom of the circumstances that led to his death. Kejriwal said the next election will be "Modi versus people of India" as he hit out at the BJP government over its economic policies which, he claimed, have derailed people's lives and left them angry. "The discontent will rise if they don't do much on the economic front," Kejriwal said. Shourie, who had supported Modi in the 2014 polls before turning a critic of his government's policies, said people forget the fact that even at the height of Modi's popularity in the last Lok Sabha elections, the BJP had got 31 per cent of votes but it won due to fragmentation of the remainder 69 per cent votes. Kejriwal said recent reports from Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat confirm his party’s fear that EVMs (Electronic Voting Machines) were being rigged. He said his party had expressed the apprehension after the assembly polls in Uttarakhand, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh but was then accused of being “sore losers”. He said reports from Gujarat indicate that the VVPAT (voter verifiable paper audit trail) can also be rigged. In a related development, BJP Lok Sabha member Shatrughan Sinha also tweeted his concerns about “faulty EVMs”.
He tweeted: “General perception - faulty EVMs in UP, Delhi, then Madhya Pradesh, and then again in UP. What's happening? In the interest of fair, transparent & honest administration and elections, it is our national duty to restore the faith of the people in the election system. Must restore credibility of election system in the nation in general and Gujarat in particular. Hope and pray that "faulty" EVMs, or latest VVPAT system do not bring anymore bad name to us. Humble appeal to Election Commission to be extra careful and watchful in our own Gujarat. Jai Hind!”In New Delhi, BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav said his party will perform better than the last assembly polls in Gujarat as people have supported demonetisation and implementation of the GST "despite some anger". He called the two measures taken by the Union government "transformational" and said "no transformation is painless". "We will win with better margin than the last time (in Gujarat assembly elections). Some journalists have told me that despite some anger among the people, they (the people) will support the BJP... Half of that anger is that of journalists. Nobody in your family gets angry with you? They get angry because there is sense of belongingness," he said. Without naming anyone, he said "some intellectuals in Delhi" were scared of the support for the BJP, adding that a new word has been reserved for the intellectuals - 'demophobia' - "a phobia where these intellectuals are scared of people". "Goray log to gaye, hamaare gore aa gaye (Englishmen left, our own Englishmen came). I am not talking in racial terms. Please don't mistake me because somebody will show in pieces that I have given a racial statement," he said, claiming that Jawaharlal Nehru, in an interview to a European journalist in 1956, said: "'I am the last British to rule over India.'"