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MODI@2: Many a slip between the cup and the lip: Jyotiraditya Scindia

Richa Mishra Debabrata Das | Updated on January 20, 2018

Jyotiraditya Scindia



An energetic member of the youth brigade of the Congress, Jyotiraditya Madhavrao Scindia has held various ministerial positions in the Manmohan Singh government. In his reckoning, the two years of the Narendra Modi government has not made progress at all. “I think there has been regression, not progression… There has been many a slip between the cup and the lip. There is a big gap between the talk and the walk,” he says in an interview to BusinessLine. Excerpts:

How do you assess this government’s performance over two years, against the UPA’s two-term stint?

If you look at this government’s attitude, there has been no new thinking, no monumental change. It has been tinkering with the projects that were started. There have been renaming of projects and lowering of allocations for various schemes. But it has done nothing new.

Under UPA-I, we introduced at least 15-20 schemes. What this government has done is only make incremental changes. A lot of the schemes have seen a cutback, and States have not been given their share.

Today, the farmer is in distress, there is unemployment. We were blamed for slow economic growth, but now you have jobless growth. I hope there are new things that this government is thinking, but I don’t see anything on the ground.

When you held the power portfolio (2012-14), there were issues of tariffs, fuel supply, long-term contracts. Rural electrification was started during the UPA regime, but the credit has gone this government. What is your take on the work-in-progress in this sector?

Again, nothing monumental… We signed Fuel Supply Agreements for almost 66,000 MW when we demitted office. There used to be a huge backlog and a choke on the system, which we resolved. With regard to rural electrification, the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana connected close to 90,000 villages across the country. They are now talking about the balance 18,000 villages that they are connecting.

The fact that they are making mobile apps is not an incremental change. Change is to be able to provide 24x7 electricity. What are they tom-toming about? State governments are not signing power purchase agreements and not buying electricity. This is the biggest challenge.

We delivered on ‘One Nation, One Grid’, connected the Southern Grid and gave almost 2,000-3,000 MW. They have only incrementally changed that to 5,000 MW.

You also held the Commerce portfolio. How has this government dealt with critical issues?

The data speaks for itself: you have 14-15 per cent fall in exports year-on-year and month-on-month, whereas when we were in power even in 2008-09, when there was a worldwide recession, there was no export deceleration. We left this government with more than $300 billion in exports and that is very rapidly diminishing.

There has been many a slip between the cup and the lip. We need to see action on the ground.

How do you account for your party’s stand on the GST Bill?

We are the ones who brought in GST; they opposed it for three years while sitting in opposition. We want to bring GST, but we had seven objections, which we have brought down to three. There must be a cap on the GST level. We must eradicate this 1 per cent surcharge from State to State: if you produce something in Kanyakumari and sell it in Kashmir, if every State introduces a 1 per cent surcharge, the GST concept is being blown to bits.

We also need to ensure that if there is an inter-State dispute, there is a quasi-judicial authority to resolve it. We haven’t received any reply. I believe this government is not interested in taking it forward.

Published on May 22, 2016

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