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Full transcript: Economic pain worsening; BJP to answer in 2019, says Sinha

Moving on from economic matters, Sinha also said the Modi govt's policies from Kashmir to Pakistan were wrong

Karan Thapar | The Wire 



In an article for the Indian Express on September 27, senior BJP leader and former finance minister lit into the Modi government’s handling of the economy, warning of more turbulence and the possibility of a hard landing. The government’s first response was to field a counter article by Sinha’s son, Jayant Sinha, who is minister of state for civil aviation. Later, finance minister publicly attacked the elder Sinha at an event in Delhi. In an exclusive interview to The Wire recorded on Friday, September 29, takes on the criticisms that have been levelled against him by Jaitley and other ministers and commentators, questions what he says are their exaggerated claims about the success of various government reforms and schemes that they had accused him of ignoring and warns that worse is yet to come.

Sinha also attacked the government’s failure to address the issue, and said that India has already lost the people of the valley emotionally. On Pakistan, the Doklam crisis and Trump’s policies towards South Asia, he says the government has no cause to pat itself on the back.

The full transcript is provided below with video timestamp for each subject but here are some highlights:

Rumour that I had lobbied for the BRICS bank job is “part of the dirty tricks department’s handiwork.”

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Jaitley forgot that by criticising me and quoting Chidambaram – and endorsing his criticism – he is criticising Mr. Vajpayee’s regime. Mr. Vajpayee was prime minister of whose government Mr. Jaitley was a member. Now, is he criticising the prime minister ?

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How can [Jaitley] say that shifting from the ministry of finance to external affairs was a demotion for me? … If Mr. Jaitley with the same stroke wants to say that Sushma Swaraj, the external affairs minister of today, is handling a totally insignificant portfolio, nobody is going to believe it.

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The government says [they have made] massive structural changes which will ultimately, ultimately – god alone knows when that ultimately will come – benefit the people. We are suffering today, you go and ask a young person of 25 who does not have a job. Wait for ten years then you’ll get a job. And see what his response will be.

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[The Modi government’s] Mudra scheme is nothing more than another name for the Pradhan Mantri Swarozgar Yojna which Vajpayee launched [by repackaging an earlier scheme]… Do you know what the average loan amount is of all those millions of people? Eleven thousand rupees! And you tell me, in today’s day and age, what kind of business can be set up with 25 thousand rupees, 50 thousand rupees?… The party president said that all these 80 million people today are self employed which means we have created 80 million job opportunities. This is absolutely untenable.

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At the best of times, something like Rs 40-50,000 crore worth of taxes are involved in litigation … So, whether [the IT department which is looking to unearth black money in bank accounts now] is on a fishing expedition or not, it is an expedition which is not going to succeed.

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People in are still waiting from Modi’s 15 August [promise of an embrace] and now it has been six weeks. Then the home minister goes to Srinagar and he says ‘we are prepared to talk to all stakeholders, I invite all stakeholders to talk to me’. Now, what is this? That he is sitting in the guest house, and people will come and seek an appointment? Is this the way a dialogue is conducted?

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I will not talk to [Modi and Rajnath on Kashmir] now. Why? Because I waited for ten months. I waited for six weeks. I am not at their beck and call, that whenever they want they can tell me ‘come, I want to talk with you’.

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I am hurt. I am absolutely hurt. That you ask for time, ten months has gone by…Let me tell you, Karan, ever since I have been in public life, no prime minister of India, starting with Rajiv Gandhi, has ever said no to a meeting I have sought… no prime minister has said to Yashwant Sinha, ‘I don’t have time for you.’ And this is my own prime minister who has treated me like this. So if somebody rings me and says please come talk to me—sorry, the time has passed… I have been treated shabbily.

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I am looking at the alienation of the masses of people in Jammu and That is something which bothers me the most… We have lost the people emotionally… You just have to visit the valley to realise that they have lost faith in us.

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Our policy towards Pakistan must be informed by consistency. At the same time I will say that Pakistan is, unfortunately, a necessary third party in Jammu and Kashmir… And therefore, if you want a final resolution then we’ll have to involve with Pakistan at some point of time… Yes, you can’t carry on with this forever.

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This killing on the LoC has to stop – nobody is winning a war on the LoC – the LoC is very well defined – and it was proved in Kargil that the world was with us rather than with Pakistan on this – you cannot alter the LoC, so let’s have peace on the LoC and it is possible to have peace on the LoC despite all our differences with Pakistan.


Transcript of the interview



This interview first appeared on The Wire

First Published: Mon, October 02 2017. 17:01 IST
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