Nitin Gadkari, a former BJP national President, in an almost hour long interview with Karan Thapar, argues that abrogating Article 370 and annul Article 35 A of the Constitution are necessary to create employment opportunities in Kashmir. While BJP is wedded to the commitment, the Modi Government did not implement them because the situation was not appropriate.
Gadkari, who many believe will be a more acceptable BJP leader as Prime Minister in case the BJP falls short of numbers on May 23, held that the BJP would be bagging more seats than in 2014 and the next Government will be formed under Narendra Modi.
The BJP leader stoutly defended the Government on the Rafale deal as well as charges of intolerance and promoting faux nationalism and vigilantism. Edited excerpts from the interview:
Every poll suggests that the single most important issue in this election for the Indian people is unemployment and jobs, are they wrong?
No! Unemployment is not a problem created by BJP in the last five years. It is a problem since 1947.
But hasn’t it got worse?
It is because of the wrong policies, bad governance, bad and corrupt governance and visionless leadership of the Congress party.
You don’t think it’s gone worse?
No, we have taken lot of new decisions, we are encouraging investment, foreign investment, we are creating more industries, we are using science and technology for creating jobs, we are creating new innovation in the infrastructure, we are making 100 airports, we are investing a lot in the private airlines, people are coming.
You are saying to me that the 7.5 per cent unemployment rate that CMIE has established for April…
Within 2 years, I am confident that this rate will come to 3-4 per cent.
Mr Gadkari, I can hear the plans you have for investment, I hear the plans that you hope will create jobs. But look at the facts on ground. Last year, when the Railways advertised 89,400 jobs, 23 million people applied, that is the extent of job hunger. If there wasn’t job hunger, why would the unemployment rate be7.5 per cent? You have to ask yourself that question, why would it be so high?
I am telling you, lakhs of people are working in private sector. When there is a government job, they apply for that. There is a difference between service and job opportunity. Now, by MUDRA Yojana, we have financed 3,50,00000 new entrepreneurs, to finance them for their business.
You actually once said in a tweet that there are no jobs in the banking sector. You admitted it yourself last year.
100 per cent, because of computerisation. And we are not expecting more jobs in banking but now by giving loan, giving finances to rural, agricultural and industrial sectors, we need to create more investment by which increasing more export, by which creating more employment, that is the policy of the government.
Mr Gadkari, 95% of Mudra loans are for ₹50,000 or less. They can’t create a job, they simply cannot. You can’t say Mudra is creating jobs when this is the case.
Understand that to create jobs, to create job for even one person, is very important. Now I will tell you an example, now they are using this TV camera; in place of this, journalists yesterday were using mobile phones and now some of the companies, particularly TV companies, they don’t need cameraman, they need a journalist who has a mobile phone.
Right! If you don’t need a cameraman, you are losing a job, you are not creating a job. The cameraman has lost his job, this is the problem. Technology is denying people jobs, it is not increasing them.
At the same time that technology is denying jobs, technology is creating jobs.
Let me put this to you, You know when you look at your manifesto, Mahesh Vyas, Managing Director of Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, says, and I am quoting him, “There is no specific suggestion in the BJP manifesto about creating jobs.” Actually, if you google unemployment the word doesn’t feature in your manifesto.
Sir, our total economic policies are based on the philosophy of how we are going to create more employment potential. To liberal economy, to public private investment, creating hundred airports, encouraging airlines for jobs, now the increase in the job…
Airlines are closing at the moment; they are not growing. Jet is in trouble; Kingfisher has closed down— those jobs are going.
Because of the fuel price. The world, the global economy is in problem…
Your manifesto promises to abrogate Article 370 andannul Article 35A. Practically the whole Valley says this would be like a red rag to a bull, it would be inflammatory. Why are you taking this risk when Kashmir is already a deeply troubled state?
For the progress and development of Kashmir, we need IT industries there. We need more hotels, restaurants, resorts. We need to increase tourism.
But this is not in your manifesto.
But because of Article 370, no one can purchase land there. IT firms can’t establish their companies there. And that’s the reason people are not getting employment.
Mr Gadkari, you really mean this is the solution?
Just a minute. The basic problem in Kashmir is poverty and unemployment. To alleviate this, we have to create more industry, more investment, take more initiatives to bring IT firms there. Now there’s an IIT there, engineering colleges are there. Education is important.
Mr Gadkari, land can be acquired from the Kashmir government for a period of 100 years at any point of time. You don’t need to abrogate Article 370 for industry to go there. Former CM Omar Abdullah has said this repeatedly.
Karanji I am sorry to say, no big company like Taj or Oberoi is in a position to start a hotel in Kashmir
The Taj already has a hotel in Kashmir. The Oberoi had a hotel there for decades
They don’t want to expand now. I have held discussions with them. Because there are a lot of legal problems because of this law, they can’t construct there, cannot expand. That is the problem.
I hear what you are saying but the route you are following could break the Constitutional bridge and endanger the very accession itself. Article 370 is the bridge that links Kashmir to India, and you could break it if you are not sensitive and sensible about this.
Sir, our party has been committed to abrogating Article 370 for long. But because of the sensitive situation there, we aren’t doing it.We were in power with full majority this time, still we are not going to implement it. However, as far as the party’s philosophy, policy and approach to it is concerned, we are firm on it.
You’ve said a very important thing. It is part of the party’s philosophy, but you may not implement it.
Because of the sensitive situation, it’s not appropriate to implement that.
That’s a very…
But as far as the party is concerned, for the past many days, it is there.
Karan Thapar: That’s a very reassuring answer, I am simply underlining it — because of the sensitive situation, it’s not appropriate to implement it now.
Everything is fair in politics
You attempted to dismiss the Uttarakhand and Arunachal governments and the Supreme Court struck it down.
Under the Congress governments too, such decisions were taken many times and struck down by the Supreme Court.
You are a remarkably honest man, Mr Gadkari, and one of the problems I face inputting difficult issues to you is that you have a clever way of admitting your mistakes, you are admitting…
Politics is a game of compulsions, limitation and contradiction
But you are accepting that the attempt to dismiss the governments in Uttarakhand and in Arunachal was a mistake, you are accepting that?
Not at all. It’s a political decision taken by the party.
But you are supposed to be the better party, the party with a difference, you are not repeating Congress’ mistakes and yet you did. You made the same mistakes like that of the Congress, and you got rapped on the knuckles the way Congress did.
Actually, in politics everything is fair, you know that. The way in which the politics move, some people are bound to leave the party…
A wrong political decision.
See, you can challenge the decision everywhere. There are some people challenging the decision of Governor of Uttarakhand also. So already debate is there. In a political battle, everything is fair. Sometime people belong to some party they want to join your party, you cannot say, on the moral basis we will not allow you.
Tathagata Roy, Meghalaya Governor
Karan Thapar: Let me point out tweets by the Governor of Meghalaya, Tathagata Roy, a former president of BJP in Bengal. He first tweeted ‘we should boycott everything Kashmiri and not visit the state’, and then he went one step worse by saying Kashmir should be treated like the Pakistan Army treated East Pakistan, and he used the words ‘slaughter andrape’. Was that acceptable? A Governor tweeting like that about an Indian state and Indian people?
Nitin Gadkari: Some of the things, some of the people might give whatever comment they want, they like. But by and large, and the party as such, we don’t accept any such policy. We are very fair. About the progress and development of Kashmir.
I am glad to hear that. But why was Roy not made to resign? Why did you not admonish him? Your government heard the tweets and kept quiet. You didn’t do anything to admonish him, to make him resign.
I feel you should neglect all such statements, we should not support them. If the PM, BJP president, party general secretary, former presidents make such statement, then you can take them seriously.
But a Governor tweeting you’ll ignore?
Governor is making the statement in his individual capacity.
He’s the Constitutional head of a state. He’s suggesting that people from another state should be ‘slaughtered and raped’.
No. Actually, his statement was something different. But I still feel it was an individual statement, the government doesn’t belong to any one party,and we are not with him if the statement is indeed along those lines.