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India

Exclusive: Yashwant Sinha On His Poll Campaign, PM Modi And Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Demonetisation

In an exclusive interview with India Ahead, Sinha spoke about issues including Indian economy and foreign policy.

Yashwant Sinha, the joint opposition candidate for the upcoming presidential polls to be held on July 18, is confident of getting votes from across the party lines. In an exclusive interview with India Ahead, Sinha spoke about issues including Indian economy and foreign policy.

Talking about his ideology, he said that currently he is not associated with any party and his ideology is India. “My ideology is the Constitution of India because the Constitution more than any other document encapsulates the values of the freedom struggle and all the best values from anywhere in the world which were available then. The Constitution is a very beautiful and inspiring document,” said Yashwant Sinha.

Political Parties: Ideology centric or personality centric ?

Politics has always been a mix of personality and ideology, everywhere in the world not only in India, everywhere in the world you will find that it has been a mix of personalities and ideologies. Sometimes the political parties have done extremely well on the basis of the person who has led the party, sometimes they have done really well because they have followed certain ideology. So both have worked in a democracy and we cannot minimise the role of personalities in our democracy also.

Strategy for Presidential Election

Let’s look at the procedure for election for the post of President. MLAs and MPs can vote, there is no whip in this election, parties cannot issue a whip, it’s a secret ballot.

Why did the framers of the Constitution do this? Why did Babasaheb Ambedkar feel that the procedure should be like this, because they wanted the voters in this election, the MPs and the MLAs, to exercise their mind. Otherwise the provision would have been that all the leaders of the political parties recognised by the Election Commission will come together and decide by vote – who the President of India would be. This right is not given to the leaders, it is given to the MPs and the MLAs and it’s a secret ballot.

Why is it a secret ballot is because they are supposed to exercise their own mind so therefore will it not be wrong on our part even unconstitutional on our part to go by the statement of the leaders.

I still believe that whatever the leaders might say the voters will exercise their mind and vote for whom they consider to be a better candidate between the two of us.

Opinion on Indian Economy

I am very sad to see where the economy is moving, I am very sad to see where the economy is going. I am extremely sad because I don’t think that the government is following any consistent policy for ensuring the growth of the economy. In fact they have taken steps in the past which has completely devastated the economy.

Demonetisaton was one such step and if you look at the figures of growth you will find that immediately after demonetisation the growth rate of Indian economy which was above eight per cent declined, came down to four per cent. This was before Covid, then Covid came and our growth went into -10 per cent (sic).

Now it is trying to cover the lost ground, but we are not yet into safe territory. That is one point, the second point is that, demonetisation has been done, are you aware how much black money is caught as a result of demonetisation?

The government, Reserve Bank of India or any other agency, no one has come out with any figure of how much black money was recovered as a result of demonetisation, and therefore I hold and say it with the fullest sense of responsibility that demonetisation was a scam because it made all the black money white by bringing it into the banking system.

Entire black money came back into the banking system and I suspect that RBI has not revealed those figures that ultimately the currency which came back to the RBI was more than 100 per cent. So perhaps the counterfeit currency also came back into the banking system. It was a disaster, both from the point of economic growth as well as from the point of ethics.

PM Modi’s foreign visits and India’s foreign policy

(The) departure to my mind is this, he has been invited to the G7 meeting. India is not a member of G7 as you know but there are four-five countries which they invite to their meetings. This started when Mr (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee was the prime minister, India got an invite to attend the G7 meeting.

We are not full time members of the club but we are an important member of the club. So it’s no surprise that the Prime Minister of India is invited to the G7 meeting in Germany in Munich. But I will like to tell you that as far as the media in India is concerned, we only see the meeting of the Prime Minister with the NRIs and what he tells the NRIs.

There was a very healthy convention that we follow, namely that on foreign soil we shall not discuss domestic party politics. PM Narendra Modi has violated that convention completely by doing it and saying that he is addressing the NRIs.

The second is there is so much publicity of that NRI meeting that we don’t ever get to know what was India’s contribution to the meeting ultimately. So it’s always an attempt to camouflage non-events and failures and things of that kind and you know hugging leaders and being very friendly with them is one small part of foreign policy.

Foreign policy is much bigger. Mr Modi was very friendly with Obama, you remember, he was very friendly with Trump, where are Trump and Obama today, they are not in the government of the US, it is somebody else. Personal relationship is good for as long as it lasts but it does not enforce the foreign policy of any country. They will do what they consider right, whether you hug or shake hands.

PM Modi vs Atal Bihari Vajpayee

There is as much difference between the two as much as the sky and the earth. Mr Vajpayee because I have travelled with him so much on his foreign trips, you know he was the picture of dignity, he was never anxious for the camera, the camera may have been anxious for him. He never tried to upstage the other leaders to demonstrate the fact that he is the most important leader of the world.

But I have always known him as he was treated with great deal of respect by the foreign leaders. India came to occupy the global high tables during Mr Vajpayee’s prime ministership. That was a great contribution that he made and you know he was the foreign minister during the Janata Party government of 1977 and after that he took interest in foreign policy. So there were very few political leaders who understood foreign policy like Mr Vajpayee. So there is no comparison.

Political Turmoil In Maharashtra

My opinion is that the BJP is using all or misusing all the power it has. Money power, ED power, CBI power, Income Tax power to break people in other parties and this has become a style of BJP that they disrespect the mandate of the people and they try to unseat elected governments and setup their own government. This has happened in Karnataka, Goa, MP, Northeast and now it is happening in Maharashtra.

Role of central agencies

It is absolutely true that the positions of CBI and ED are questionable these days. Sanjay Raut is a very important leader of Maharashtra, he is a kind of fire fighter who is engaged in whatever is happening in Maharashtra today. Why has ED issued summons to him today? Why have people been made to parade up and down for ED, CBI etc, etc ? Because we are seen vindictiveness in our politics today, something which never happened earlier.

Opinion on Draupadi Murmu

I will not like to comment on Draupadi Murmu. It is not proper for me to do so. I always say that I have regard for her and I have known her since she was the governor of Jharkhand and wish her the best, but I will stop there and will not evaluate her.

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