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Lack of jobs will be major issue in next LS polls: Yashwant Sinha

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Yashwant Sinha
Patna: Bhartiya Janata Party leader Yashwant Sinha addresses during a programme in Patna on April 2, 2017. (Photo: IANS)

Interview: By V.S. Chandrasekar and Meghna Mittal

New Delhi, Oct 6: Dissident BJP leader Yashwant Sinha remains unfazed by all the criticism he has faced for his strong critique of the economy and asserts that lack of jobs will be a major issue in the next Lok Sabha elections.

He also feels any attempt at polarising voters on issues like the Ram temple or Article 370 of the Constitution will not work on a country-wide basis.

On demonetisation, which he has been strongly critical of, Sinha says he would have opposed it “tooth and nail” had he been the Finance Minister.

“I feel vindicated (on the Indian Express article attacking the government’s handling of the economy). My first satisfaction is that the issue is being debated. There is quite an informed debate going on. I stand by the facts and figures I quoted. I see no signs so far of a respite for the stressed sectors of our economy.

“RBI has not revised rates. On the fiscal side again, the indications are that even if they don’t go for fiscal expansion, the target of fiscal deficit will be breached the way expenditure is happening this year,” Sinha told IANS in an interview.

Sinha said he made a point on the economy and it was his assessment — and there can be a differing point of view. “But they (government) have not answered a single issue. Out of the council of ministers, my son (Civil Aviation Minister Jayant Sinha) has come out. People said it should be dismissed as a father-son feud. It was reducing it to the level of such flippancy that the serious issue would be lost. I am happy that it has not.”

Asked about whether the BJP would find the going tough in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and if the ruling party would attempt to polarise votes on issues like the Ram temple, uniform civil code and Article 370, the BJP veteran said it was too early to answer that question as there are about 18 months still left.

“The Indian voter is unpredictable and I should know given the 2004 elections,” he said in a reference to the defeat suffered by his party then after it advanced the polls on the “Shining India” campaign. “New India” is the slogan now, he added.

He said there are two issues in the economy. “One is jobs and (the other) price rise. The Indian voter is worried if my lad has a job or not. That adds to frustration. As far as employment is concerned, it will be a major issue. Household after household will be suffering from unemployment.”

On the question of polarisation, Sinha said, “That kind of polarisation has never worked on a country-wide basis. It may in pockets, but I don’t think it will meet with electoral success. One thing is very certain. Either it (temple construction) will have to be with the consent of the parties concerned or through a court judgement. You will succeed only if there is a conflicting environment. Then only polarisation will take place. And it does not work every time. ”

Admitting that the only good thing about the Modi government is that so far there have been no corruption charges, Sinha said the common man however does not benefit from it. He benefits from cutting-edge administration. “Nothing has changed on that front. For the common man, there is hardly any relief.”

Sinha said there was no clear policy emerging on how to tackle the distress in various sectors. He referred to the way the share market was behaving and called it a case for study. RBI has said it will prevent volatility from market.

“There is a camp which says that rupee should be allowed to depreciate because it is affecting exports. We don’t see any clear policy emerging.

“From the economic point of view, exports have come down, foreign demand is not there. Industrial demand is not there. Overall demand in the economy is not there. That is one reason why private investment is not taking place. There is no generation of fresh capacity. This is serious… because economic growth will take place only on the basis of rising demand. In 3.5 years of this government, there is no demand.”

On demonetisation, Sinha said he would have opposed it tooth and nail had he been the Finance Minister. “It is a long debate what demonetisation can achieve, what it has achieved and what can be achieved through alternative means.

“We are talking of cashless. We have a whole host of measures to go cashless. I think there are 1.8 million cases (of disproportionate deposits). And all these cases will take their own time. If the Income Tax department has to handle these cases, then tax terrorism has returned. We are declaring to the world we are a country of thieves and black money holders.

“By when will we see the outcome of these cases, we don’t know. The fact of the matter is that they have blundered badly as far as this move of demonetisation is concerned.”

To a question on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the problems encountered by traders on account of its implementation, he said, “Now suddenly it has become the biggest reform since 1947 and they are tom-tomming it. I am seriously questioning the understanding of taxation that these people possess. Fifteen years (after) I introduced CENVAT with three rates, they introduce GST with five official rates — and with many more cesses. There can’t be more than three rates.”

Sinha said that demand needs to be created and there was need to create an investment for demand for goods first in the economy. “We have to create demand for investment goods. That will lead to more job opportunities, money will flow into people’s pockets through employment and then demand for consumption goods will rise. But this is not happening now.”

IANS

Politics

Don’t commit ‘sin’ of using force against protesters: Sharad Pawar

The former Union Agriculture Minister asked the Centre to hold a dialogue with cultivators seeking scrapping of the new agri-marketing laws giving up its “extreme position” on the issue.

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Sharad Pawar

In the wake of violence during the farmers” tractor parade, NCP president Sharad Pawar on Tuesday said what happened in Delhi is indefensible, but one also cannot ignore reasons which led to the situation as he warned against use of force on protesters.

The former Union Agriculture Minister asked the Centre to hold a dialogue with cultivators seeking scrapping of the new agri-marketing laws giving up its “extreme position” on the issue.

A tractor march meant to highlight farmers” demands dissolved into anarchy on the streets of the national capital, as hordes of rampaging protesters broke through barriers, fought with police, overturned vehicles and hoisted a religious flag from the rampart of Red Fort, a privilege reserved for the tricolour.

Interacting with media persons here, Pawar said Punjab may head towards restlessness if the Centre uses force against protesters and asked the Modi government to not commit that sin.

The farmers organised tractor rally. It was expected of the Centre and those responsible for law and order then to deal with them sensibly. But it did not happen is obvious, Pawar alleged.

Pawar said a way out should have been found over the farmers demands without hurting the protesters who have been agitating for two months.
The NCP leader said from the information he has received, strict conditions were imposed on the protesters before they took out the tractor rally.

It was required to deal with the protesters keeping in mind their 50-60 days agitation and their patience. But a different view was held (by the authorities) and hence, the situation has deteriorated.

None can defend what is happening there today. But we also cannot ignore why it is happening, Pawar said.

Pawar said it was the responsibility of the Centre to note why the farmers who were protesting peacefully till now turned angry and added the government should have handled the agitators accordingly.

But it did not happen and the situation deteriorated, Pawar alleged.

It is my expectation that the Centre shows prudence and gives up its extreme position on the issue while holding dialogue with these (farmers) bodies.

It should hold a dialogue. It should think of their demands seriously and take a suitable decision, Pawar said.

He said Punjab may head towards restlessness if the Centre uses force against the agitators.

If this is not done (dialogue is not held) and if we (the Centre) try to use force, then Punjab — which was restless once upon a time, but has recovered — may head towards restlessness and the Modi government should not commit that sin, Pawar added. PTI

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Congress to welcome farmers’ tractor rally in Delhi

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Tractor March Delhi
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The Congress in Delhi will welcome the farmers’ tractor rally on January 26 on the rally route to pledge solidarity with the farmers demanding the repeal of the three farm laws. The Congress workers have been asked by the party to welcome the rally on various points in the capital.

The Congress said the farm laws, if implemented in the present form, will be a total sell-out of the farm sector to a few chosen corporates supporting the BJP, therefore the farmers demand repeal of the laws.

Chowdhry Anil Kumar, President of the Delhi Congress unit said, “The farmers have been protesting on the borders of Delhi for over the past 60 days, braving the bone-chilling cold weather, demanding the repeal of the anti-farmer laws, and over 100 farmers have already become martyrs to the cause, and I will personally welcome the tractor rally.”

He alleged that the Modi government seems to be unmoved by the plight of the farmers, and adamant that it will not repeal the three laws after 11 rounds of talks with the farmers have produced no result, as the government is firm on not repealing the laws and is just fooling the farmers by holding futile talks. He said that the tractor rally will be a loud statement of the farmers’ anguish and anxiety.

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Congress has high hopes with DMK in Tamil Nadu

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rahul gandhi pti
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The Congress is pinning its hopes on the Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, where it will contest in alliance with the DMK, with former party president Rahul Gandhi making a trip to the southern state twice in 10 days and is expected to visit the state again in February.

Rahul Gandhi has been invoking Tamil pride in the state and attacking the BJP and AIADMK. In one of his speeches, the Congress leader said, “The Prime Minister says one language, one culture and one nation. Is Tamil not an Indian language? Is Tamil history not Indian history?”

Attacking the BJP, Rahul Gandhi said in another of his speeches, “It is an honour for me to be here with you. Whenever I come to Tamil Nadu, I am struck by your enthusiasm and by the way you live your life, something that I call Tamil spirit. No matter what difficulty you face, you always have a smile on your face and remain positive.”

He also said that in every non-BJP ruled state, Prime Minister Narendra Modi uses the CBI and ED to attack the opposition. “Why is the ED and the CBI not investigating the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister? What has the CM given to PM Modi in exchange for this? That is the central question,” he said.

Rahul Gandhi also alleged that Modi has the remote control to the government of Tamil Nadu, but the people of the state will take the batteries out of his remote control and throw them away.

The DMK-Congress alliance had outsmarted the AIADMK in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and holds an advantage in the Assembly elections as the ruling party lacks a charismatic leader such as Jayalalitha.

While the DMK has an alliance with the Congress, the AIADMK is likely to go with the BJP. The Congress is optimistic as its alliance with the DMK and the CPI(M) had won 38 out of the 39 seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

There is also an anti-incumbency factor in Tamil Nadu with the AIADMK ruling the state for two terms now.

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