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Crisis of confidence in Modi government: Manmohan


Newsworldbd.com -12.02.2016

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said there is a crisis of confidence in the government and that Prime Minister Narendra Modi must give “every Indian” the confidence that he cares for people’s well-being.

Singh was critical of the Prime Minister for not speaking on issues like beef or communal riots in Muzaffarnagar and elsewhere.

Stating that “people don’t believe the government”, the former prime minister said, “when they (apparently industrialists) go and call on the ministers, they say the right things, but when they come out, all of them say that nothing much has changed… There is today a crisis of confidence in the government.”

Singh said beef controversy and issues like intolerance were problems.

“All these are problems. The public in our country expects the prime minister to take the lead in managing public opinion. But he (Modi) has never spoken; whether it is on the beef problem or whether it is what happened in Muzaffarnagar or elsewhere, he has kept quiet.”

“I don’t know. I cannot read his mind. But he is the prime minister of all the people of India and he must give every Indian the confidence that in him we have a Prime Minister who cares for our well-being,” he told India Today.

Reacting to his remarks, Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the criticism was “misplaced” while adding that the Modi government had launched a host of schemes like Mudra and Jan Dhan besides other welfare measures for the downtrodden and weaker sections of society.

“Singh is very welcome. He advised the prime minister to be PM for all India and I will like to say that Modi’s campaign was ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’ (with all, development for all) and he is very clearly fulfilling this,” the BJP leader said.

Replying to a question, Singh said during the 2008 economic crisis the government spoke to every one.

“But today it seems to me there is a lack of confidence within the business community. I can’t make out what it is … When they talk to the civil servants, they tell them they don’t know who the boss is.

“When we were in government, the business community talked a great deal about tax terrorism. I continue to hear the same talk from the business community when they come and talk to me,” he said.

Asked what the Modi government should do, Singh said first they have to recognize that the bonanza in oil was not going to last forever.

“But this government has already spent two years out of five without giving people the feeling that the country is on an upward path.

“For example, the bank credit is not moving – the rate of growth of bank credit is much lower than what would be the case if the economy was on an upward trend,” he said.

To a question on the government’s foreign policy, the former prime minister said the relations with major powers had improved but that was also the case with his government.

Saying that the real test of foreign policy was in the handling of neighbours, he said the Modi government’s handling of Pakistan was “inconsistent”. “It has been one step forward, two steps back.”

“Certainly, I cannot say that my government’s relationship with Pakistan was free of problems … It (Modi government) went out of its way to invite Nawaz Sharif for the prime minister’s swearing-in ceremony which was a good move. But the advantage that should have been taken from that move did not materialize because the Modi government made it conditional that the Pakistani government could not talk to the Hurriyat and so the talks were cancelled.”

Singh said he is not sure if Modi’s quick trip to Lahore was well “thought-out”.

“It is always good to maintain good contacts with your neighbour but there is no need to create an euphoria. If you are not sure about the outcome of your initiative, I think you are wasting the levers of power that you have regarding Pakistan. So I don’t think that the PM thought it through.

“He said he was in Kabul when he spoke to Nawaz Sharif, who invited him to come. But that is no way of planning or taking a view on such a sensitive relationship, especially one between India and Pakistan.”

Asked about the government’s performance so far, the former prime minister there is a growing view that the BJP is not able to deliver in areas in which it had made huge promises.

Replying to questions, Singh said when he talked to the PM once or twice, he had told him that Modi had to reach out to the opposition much more effectively than has been the case.

“There has been no serious discussion with the Congress, whether it is on foreign policy or domestic policy and even on the GST.”

He said he told the prime minister if he wants to improve the relations with the Congress it was much more essential than every before to establish contact with Sonia and Rahul Gandhi.

“I told him that this is not a task on which I can deliver. They are the two most important leaders of our party, and until the government establishes some rapport with Soniaji and Rahul, the Congress party cannot be taken for granted. You cannot have a situation, where you foist cases like National Herald and then expect …”

When told that in Parliament it was increasingly clear that the treasury and opposition benches were hardly talking to each other, Singh said “That is not good for democracy, for the country. There is unwanted bitterness between the two sides. It does not have to be that way.”

Asked why he thinks there was bitterness, he said, “Because the ruling party doesn’t feel that it needs the Congress in managing the country.”

To a question on scams and scandals in the last couple of years during his government, and whether he felt sad that his last years were shrouded by them, he said he really felt sad that the BJP disrupted Parliament and the government never had the opportunity to put its view on what really happened.




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