‘PM Modi has been a guest artist in Parliament’: Veerappa Moily interview

In an exclusive interview, Veerappa Moily spoke to TNM on a range of issues including the Rafale controversy, PM Modi, alliances ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
‘PM Modi has been a guest artist in Parliament’: Veerappa Moily interview
‘PM Modi has been a guest artist in Parliament’: Veerappa Moily interview

Former Karnataka Chief Minister and Congress leader Veerappa Moily, who was also part of the Union cabinet in the past, exudes confidence that the grand old party of Indian politics will come back to power at the Centre.

In an exclusive interview with TNM, Moily said, “The country needs a change so that the democratic principles can be restored. Now there is total intolerance, and an idea of ‘no one should give any opinion opposed to the government view’ is being propagated. It is the most intolerant and arrogant government, they don't want any analytical discussions on any topic. We have seen so many activists killed, like Kalburgi, Gauri Lankesh and this is a trend.”

With political observers expressing the view that the pre-emptive aerial strikes in Pakistan’s Balakot will give the BJP political mileage, Moily opines that “it won’t help the BJP this time any more”.

“People have understood what they (BJP) are. Amit Shah has said that 300 terrorists have been killed. But then the Defence Minister says, ‘we can't give any number’. We did not question, but their own statements make it very clear that they are vague,” Moily says, adding that his party objects to the politicisation of the armed forces by the ruling dispensation.

“On matters concerning defence, we support the government, this is the standard Congress stand. But these people (the Centre) are making politics about it. Even today, our leader (Rahul Gandhi) has used the choicest words in support of our armed forces,” says Moily.

Here are excerpts from the rest of the interview.

Before this, the Congress has attacked the government on Rafale. You have been very direct with your accusations against the PM and also called the IAF chief a liar. The BJP has been saying that the hatred for Modi has converted into hatred for even the IAF. How do you react to that?

It is an open and shut case of corruption in which Anil Ambani sat by the side when the discussions were going on. He is the sole benefactor at the cost of HAL. When we left the government, the HAL was cash rich but they made HAL weak. We are strongly against the Rafale deal that has sacrificed our national interests. 

IAF chief has no business to speak on politics, That is the only thing I said. I have never called him a liar, it was created by the media. 

Your expectations of the review petition in the Supreme Court?

I cannot anticipate what the Supreme Court will say, but they have lied to the Supreme Court as well about the CAG report.

What do you think of Narendra Modi as a Prime Minister?

There has been no PM like him who is least interested in parliamentary democracy. He (Modi) may have bowed down and touched the steps of the Parliament with his head, but he has rarely made any appearance. He was primarily a guest artist. He never called a meeting with the Opposition at times of crisis but rather was going all over the world, even when the Parliament session was on.

What about his policies and economic reforms the government has brought?

There is no field where Modi has left a positive mark. There has been no single legislation of the current government that has come in the interest of women, poor people or the disabled. We are for the Women’s Reservation Bill, we have started the MNREGA, the RTI Act, RTE Act.

In 2014, Modi gave a lot of promises. He said, ‘I will get the black money from abroad and credit Rs 15 lakh to every citizen’s account. Ultimately, Amit Shah came out and claimed it was only an election ‘jumla’ and was not to be taken seriously. They said every year they will create 2 crore jobs, but instead of creating jobs, there is only loss of jobs. No worthwhile investment is coming to India and his policies like demonetisation have demoralised the SME (Small and Medium Enterprise) sector. It was the common man who suffered but not the big industrialists.

Our GST policies were better and simpler with just two levels of taxation as opposed to the current system of multiple slabs. So, our leader Rahul Gandhi has rightly said that this is Gabbar Singh Tax. Today, there is an atmosphere of distrust with the government. Neither is there investment from the domestic sector nor is there foreign investment.

But experts say brand Modi is strong and he is still a popular choice. There is also a view that Rahul Gandhi is no match against Modi. Your thoughts?

PM Modi enjoys popularity only amongst the RSS. If he was so popular, he would have won the last three states that went to polls. (Congress won the last three assembly polls held in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chattisgarh)

Rahul Gandhi is far more transparent, competent, and is articulate on issues faced by the common man. He has now emerged as a very strong leader. People used to make fun of him, but now they take him very seriously. Unlike Modi, he maintains humility. The kind of statements that Modi is giving today, it is highly improper for a Prime Minister while Rahul Gandhi only speaks on facts. The youth also feel their issues have been highlighted by Rahul Gandhi.

Out of the three states— MP, Rajasthan were marginal and not all were comfortable victories for the Congress. However, unlike in those elections, you have failed to stitch together a rainbow alliance, will it not cost you?

That way, their victory in 2014 was marginal, they had won only 32% of the total votes. 

There is always a difference between politics at the state and central level. There are already pre-poll alliances in place in many states. Post-poll, there will be an alliance with parties like the SP, BSP and TMC. The common enemy is Narendra Modi, the common enemy is BJP.  We might see little adjustments too between non-BJP parties after the elections are declared. All of us will speak in a single voice so that the BJP does not win. A combination of pre-poll alliances, informal arrangements and post-poll alliances will see a non-BJP government at the Centre with Congress being the key stakeholder. And Rahul Gandhi will be the PM.

Coming back to Karnataka, you have a pre-poll alliance. How many seats can you restrict the BJP to?

They will not win more than five seats. I am telling you with my experience of five decades in politics within the state. I know very well with the alliance working that the BJP will be reduced to five seats in Karnataka.

For you personally, what will be your role in the Lok Sabha elections? Will you contest from Chikkaballapura?

I wish to contest the elections from Chikkaballapura, that is my primary concern. This is the third time that I will contest from the seat since winning it in 2009, Even in 2014, I had won with a big margin despite Modi addressing a rally when all the other constituencies addressed by him saw the BJP win.

The JD(S) might want to claim the seat citing anti-incumbency you might face?

Not only will I retain the margin, I expect to increase my margin because of my work in the last 10 years.I have cultivated my voter base there since I was the CM. I am instrumental in creating the international airport there among other important projects. When I was contesting for the first time, there were reports that Kolar and Chikkaballapur will be reduced to only barren land and people from this part will migrate to other places. My biggest achievement is in ensuring the availability of drinking water and irrigation projects. I had designed the Yettinahole drinking water project and 80% of the work is already over and within two years, it will be a reality. 

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