Subramanian Swamy, Paranjoy Thakurta clash over demonetisation, GST and more
Rajasthan Patrika hosted its annual ideafest Keynote in Jodhpur on Saturday, 29 July. Of the 8 sessions, one involving Modi, his promises, and two rather compelling speakers, had the audience asking for more.
The session, titled 'Reality check of Modi means business', had Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy debating the former editor of Economic and Political Weekly, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta.
While Swamy insisted that the Modi government's alleged economic blows, such as Demonetisation or GST, have actually shown the kind of faith the country has in the PM, Thakurta argued that all that's basically hogwash.
“The people have faith in their PM,” said Swamy, adding, “Despite the trouble they may have faced during Demonetisation, they didn't give up on him. This is because he understands the poor.”
In what could only be a direct response to that comment, Thakurta joked, “When couples fall in love, the honeymoon period lasts a very short time. But Modi ji has great luck. It's been three years and his honeymoon period is still on.”
Arguing that the country is in a worse place than before, he added, “The chasm between poor and rich has increased. And Demonetisation has only made it worse.”
Swamy means business
But Modi does mean business, insisted Swamy. “The military is happy with us,” he said, adding, “We speak their language and don't compromise.”
Swamy's faith in the military is so strong that he argued they must be given more power in Kashmir.
“I personally would want Central rule in Kashmir, and not Mufti Sayeed's daughter, with more power given to military under AFSPA. The moment they were granted more autonomy, look at how well they curbed all this stone-pelting,” he said.
But that isn't all Swamy would like changed.
Insisting that getting rid of ex-RBI governor Raghuram Rajan was the government's best call, Swamy says he'd like to fire some more people.
“I had always said that unemployment will exist as long as Raghuram Rajan does,” he boasted, adding, “I'm currently thinking of chucking [Chief Economic Advisor] Arvind Subramanian as well.”
UPA NDA bhai-bhai?
Thakurta, picking up where Swamy left off, asked a pertinent question about the current RBI chief.
“How come Urjit Patel has still not been able to tell us how much black money has come back?” Thakurta asked, referencing the government's claims that Demonetisation would rid India of corruption and black money.
Not keen on being called a Congressi, as many a journalists who question the government often are, Thakurta also observed, “There's not much difference between Modi Sarkar and UPA. They're both going the same way.”
However, there's one point of difference between UPA and the current government – Hindutva.
Swamy, who has been an active part of the Ram Mandir debate, had earlier claimed that the temple will be built in Ayodhya by 2024. He has also filed a plea to further his cause, and the Supreme Court may hear the issue soon.
“I am a part of the Ram Mandir case now. We'll finish the hearing soon, and win the case sooner,” he said, adding, “I am part of this as I have full right to pray at the site where Lord Ram was born.”
Candid as ever, Swamy explained that Hindutva was the overarching name given to a host of agendas the Modi government wants to uphold.
“It is wrong to think that we could win on only development agenda. This is how politics works,” said Swamy.
The Modi government has faced a lot of criticism, from the opposition as well as the lay person, for the inaction on mob lynchings and cow vigilantism. And yet, Hindutva, the very ideology that the vigilantes use as their excuse to kill, is casually dismissed as a political card by the likes of Swamy.