Congress and other opposition parties will enter into strategic political alliances in states to defeat the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, feels former Union Minister Kapil Sibal, who says a pan-India alliance may be difficult before the polls.
He also asserted that the issue of who will be the Prime Ministerial candidate of the opposition will be sorted out by the parties at the right time. The BJP’s alliance partners have fallen out, he said and does not see the ruling party securing enough numbers even to think of forming the government.
“People of India are connecting with us because the people have realised that this sort of tsunami of jumlas (rhetoric) has not taken India anywhere. The dreams that were promised have come crashing down. The communications revolution is a great benefactor in many senses.
“But in the context of this Prime Minister, the communications revolution has ensured that whatever he said in the past can be repeated to him, haunt him. This was not so when the communications revolution had not taken place because it is in electronic mode, whatever speeches he made and whatever he said is going to haunt him. Public memory is refreshed by repeating those promises that he made,” Sibal told IANS in an interview.
His book ‘Shades of Truth — A Journey Derailed’ published by Rupa Publications releasing on Friday analyses the four years of NDA rule under Modi, the weaknesses that undid the UPA regime, the 2G and coal “scams” among other things.
Replying to questions, the former HRD minister said any attempts by BJP to polarise people before elections would not pay.
“It would not matter. I think the people of India, their eyes have been opened to the reality of this leadership,” he said.
Asked about his view which he has written in the book that Congress would have a dilemma in West Bengal on whether to tie with the Left or the ruling Trinamool Congress, he said, “That we will see. I don’t decide these issues. I have said what I said in the book.”
To a question whether there will be pan-India alliance or state-specific alliances, Sibal said, “I have said in the book that a pan-India alliance is difficult.”
Asked if he was confident about an opposition alliance against BJP, he said “100 per cent”.
When pressed to answer whether it would be a grand alliance, Sibal said, “There certainly will be strategic alliances because there are common interests. So there is the lowest common denominator at work.”
Sibal, who was elected from the Chandni Chowk constituency of the national capital in the 2004 and 2009 Lok Sasbha elections said in reply to another query whether Congress should partner with AAP in Delhi that “I don’t think we have asked for alliance but they (Congress leadership) will decide”.
Asked about the problems that could emerge in the opposition alliance over the Prime Minister’s post, the Congress leader shot back, “that (prime minister) will emerge”.
When told about Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) riposte as to “who is the alternative to Modi”, Sibal hit back saying “what has this great Prime Minister done for India? Forget who. If you look at the record of this country, the history of the country since 1991, the greatest things have happened in coalition governments. Strong majority in 2014 has in fact resulted in belittling the future of India. Let us not go into that debate.”
He said the situation will throw up a candidate. “Always. It always does. It happened in 2004 also.”
Asked whether the Prime Minister candidate will be from Congress, he said, “I don’t know. We will see whatever emerges at that point of time. That is something people will decide.”
When told about the reservations among some opposition leaders over Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Sibal said, “Anybody may have reservations. The point in time is if and when that situation arises somebody will emerge and I think the people will decide who that somebody is going to be.”
Asked about reports that the BJP may not get majority but still could form a coalition government next year, Sibal said, “It’s all speculation. What are the numbers you are talking about. BJP is not there in Tamil Nadu. BJP is not there in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Hardly it is there in West Bengal and Odisha. Where are they going to get the seats?
“They got all seats in Rajasthan, Gujarat, almost all seats in Haryana… where are they going to get the seats? I am not on numbers. If you look at the map of India and the fact that alliance partners have fallen out, I don’t see the BJP securing enough numbers even to think of forming the government,” he said.
When asked whether the opposition was simply hoping to cash on the anti-incumbency against the Modi government, the Congress leader said: “This is not about anti-incumbency. This is destroying the very fabric of India.”
“See a disruptive mindset will indulge in disruptive politics and disruptive economics. What we have seen in the last four years are disruptive mindsets who have indulged in disruptive politics and disruptive economics,” he said attacking the BJP government.
Sibal said this has nothing to do with anti-incumbency. “Destructive mindsets have resulted in destroying the peace and tranquility of India. It has destroyed the economy of India starting November 8, 2016.
He alleged that such a mindset has created levels of unemployment the country has not seen.
“We have seen violence in the streets when Dalits and minorities are attacked. We have seen institutions being destroyed, seen the media, specially the electronic media collaborate with the government. We talked about CBI as caged parrots. These are caged and singing parrots (to government’s tune). We have seen distress in the agricultural sector and fear among people that we have not seen before.
“We have seen businessmen losing heart and small businesses being destroyed. We have seen the informal sector starved of credit. This is nothing to do with anti-incumbency. It is something to do with impact that this government’s policies on the lives of people,” Sibal added.