Crony capitalism is a result of the basic policies of Modi govt: KC Venugopal

AM Jigeesh New Delhi | Updated on May 07, 2019 Published on May 07, 2019

Congress general secretary in-charge KC Venugopal   -  K_MURALI_KUMAR

Unseating Modi will be done only through a joint effort of the Congress and like-minded parties, says Congress general secretary in-charge of organisation

Congress general secretary in-charge of organisation KC Venugopal is busy helming the electioneering sitting at his party’s headquarters in Akbar Road. As five rounds of polling are over, he is confident of the defeat of the BJP. Talking to BusinessLine, he claimed that reports from the ground suggest that the Congress will have a “good number” of seats. He said the party is fighting not just to throw the BJP out of power, but to make the next government and fulfil promises made to the people. Excerpts of the interview:

Five rounds of polling are over. What is the real motive of the Congress in 2019 elections? Is it ousting the BJP from power or making a comeback?

We are fighting not just for unseating the BJP from power. We have given a lot of promises to the people. If voted to power, we will ensure justice to them. A vast majority of the people were denied justice in the last five years. Our motive is coming back to power and do justice for the people who were sidelined by the Centre. At the same time, unseating Narendra Modi will be done only through a joint effort of the Congress and like-minded parties.

What is the feedback you are getting from the ground?

We will have a good number of seats according to the reports from the ground.

Your allies complain that the Congress did not show a magnanimous approach so that there is an alliance against the BJP.

It is not correct. In Karnataka, we have given Chief Minister’s post to a party with 38 MLAs. We took such a decision to keep the BJP out of power. In Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir and Bihar, we have alliances. Wherever an alliance is possible, we have gone for it.

In Uttar Pradesh, the SP and the BSP unanimously announced an alliance. We tried to field candidates to minimise the damage in the fight against the BJP. If all the three parties are together, results would have been much better. We have chosen candidates in such a manner that they will not disturb alliance’s candidates. Our candidates are cutting BJP’s votes. It will help the alliance.

What happened in Delhi?

In Delhi, AAP said they will give us three seats. At the final stage, they put a condition that Haryana and Punjab should also be discussed together. Our State units could not digest that. Our Haryana unit said an alliance with AAP and Dushyant Chautala’s party will give an undue advantage for the BJP. It will indirectly help the BJP. The state unit strongly opposed it.

Do you think that structural issues such as non-performing assets and banking crisis are discussed during the campaigning?

The misuse and mismanagement of the economy by the current government and their policies have ruined the entire economy of the country. They promised to bring back the black money stashed abroad. Instead of doing that, they demonetised high value notes. It weakened the economy. The banks are in crisis now because of this.

We will have to correct this course of economy. The credibility of our banking system will have to be restored. We believe that implementation of Nyay scheme can change the course of our economy. When the market is active, economy will grow. They ensured the collapse of the market through policy decisions such as demonetisation. They reduced purchasing power of people. Nyay will enhance the purchasing power of rural people. Rich may not spend much. Ordinary people will spend money. We will empower them through Nyay. When that money comes to the market, it will reinvigorate the economy. It will strengthen the banking system.

Do you have any concrete steps to arrest NPAs? The BJP says that it is a baggage from the UPA government…

This government’s policy was behind burgeoning of NPAs. Their crony capitalists such as Vijay Mallya, Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi were the biggest beneficiaries of NPA. They didn’t do anything to arrest NPA. On the other hand, they gave a free hand to their cronies. We will find out the actual reasons of NPAs and black money. We will take remedial measures so that the economy can be strengthened. NPA is five times bigger than it was in 2014. They gave flexibility to the people behind NPAs.

Congress has been attacking crony capitalism over issues such as Rafale deal. But even under your regime, there were reports by CAG and other bodies against industrial groups.

Crony capitalism is a result of the basic policies of Narendra Modi government. Our leader Rahul Gandhi is very clear about it. We are not against capitalism and capitalists. We need investments. We appreciate sincere efforts from corporate houses. We will encourage them. In the name of doing business, this government is encouraging a lot of people with other intentions. Those who are genuine, have not got much help from this government. The profit of certain chosen companies increased manifold in the last five years. It wouldn’t have possible without the backing of the Centre.

The Centre should have supported genuine and hard-working industrialists, particularly in the small and medium sector. They will create employment too, much better than big capitalists. One of the major fronts where this government has failed is unemployment. Two authentic reports show that unemployment rate is at historically highest level.

Agrarian crisis is another major topic selected by the Congress to attack the BJP. What will you do for the farmers if you come back to power?

We have concrete ideas about the agrarian and rural situation. Agrarian crisis and unemployment are mutually related issues. Employment should be generated by clubbing agriculture and small and medium industries. These sectors provide maximum number of employment. We have also promised filling up of more than two million jobs in government within stipulated time.

BJP promised doubling the income of farmers. GST and demonetisation destroyed the agriculture sector. The government did not do anything for farming sector and on the other hand created lot of problems for farmers. We will revive the farm sector through some major steps. We have proposed a Budget for farmers. Giving some money to the agriculture department will not serve the purpose. We should have a budget for farmers which can see things holistically— a budget that will link agrarian crisis with unemployment, procurement, input cost of fertilisers etc.

The Left parties held you personally responsible for Rahul Gandhi’s decision to contest from Wayanad…

Congress president has the wisdom to take such a major decision. No one can influence him. Those who accuse me of influencing his decision are actually undermining the Congress president. There was a feeling that the Congress president should contest from South India also. Modi was trying to divide the country on communal, regional and language basis.

We want to give a message that the Congress stands for national integration against Modi’s divisive strategies. State units of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala wanted him to contest in their States. He chose Wayanad. It is a junction between three States. I don’t understand why Left is taking it as challenge against them. Rahul Gandhi hasn’t attacked Left not even in a single meeting. It is not his agenda. BJP is losing their base in Kerala because Rahul Gandhi’s presence. Their hopes of opening an account from Kerala will be damaged by Rahul Gandhi’s presence.

Data shows that the BJP is in a much better position in terms of resources. How tough was the campaigning for the Congress?

We had to fight a very unethical campaigning of BJP in this election. When AB Vajpayee was Prime Minister, things were much better. But under this Prime Minister, the BJP held a too low political campaign. Their clear agenda was to divert attention from the real issues of the people. One can’t imagine the money power they have. They openly announced their willingness to purchase MLAs in various States. They offered ₹25 crore each for an MLA in Karnataka. All agencies are under them.

The Election Commission is busy giving clean chits. If reports are true, there are dissent voices within the EC too. The BJP is weakening constitutional mechanisms. But people understand this. The real battle is in the fields. People will defeat them.

The BJP did not have a structured campaign this time than the agenda of dividing people. Their organisational mechanism also was not as strong as being portrayed.

Published on May 07, 2019
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