How Shah made a virtue of Modi’s pakoda remark

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on February 05, 2018 Published on February 05, 2018

BJP President Amit Shah delivers his maiden speech in the Rajya Sabha on Monday as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley look on   -  PTI

In his maiden speech in the Rajya Sabha, BJP President Amit Shah attempted to turn the pakoda-wallah debate around, just as the ruling party used Mani Shankar Aiyar’s chai-wallah jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi to damage the Congress heavily in the 2014 general elections.

Speaking during the motion of thanks on the Presidential address, Shah asserted that a lot of the government’s effort in the last three years had gone into “paving the potholes” that the Congress had dug in in India’s “55 years of one-family rule in 70 years of India’s independence”.

But the BJP chief’s best moment came when took on former finance minister P Chidambaram’s contemptuous dismissal of Modi’s claim that even selling pakodas is an instance of job-creation.

The PM had said last month that the government had emphasised self-employment and job creation, for which loans had been disbursed, and that selling pakodas, too, is a job. To this, Chidambaram had said: “By that logic, even begging is a job. Let’s count poor or disabled persons who are forced to beg for a living as ‘employed’ people.”

Shah raged against Chidambaram’s remark and turned it into a sharp political point, highlighting the Congress’ inability to address fundamental issues in India even after being in power for longer than the BJP.

“Joblessness is a topic of debate. But let me point out that in so many decades, no one has found the perfect solution. A lot of learned MPs here have talked about this. I admit it…I admit that there is joblessness. But you point fingers at us, question us, when you have been ruling for 55 years,” Shah quipped, as Congress MPs protested. “This problem has not been created in just three years. Give us credit where it is due. We have at least found a solution. We have started Skill India, Start-up India, Stand-up India and MUDRA bank loans. I say, Indiraji (former PM Indira Gandhi) did the best thing by nationalisation of banks. But after bank nationalisation, were the doors of the banks opened to the poor like she had said?”

Shah said it was a shame that senior Congress leaders demean those sell pakodas. With the PM listening intently, Shah said that in the years to come, a pakoda-wallah can dream of becoming prime minister because a chai-wallah (Modi) had achieved the feat.

“In the last three years, 10.5 crore young people have been given loans to set up businesses. I read Chidambaram’s comment that selling pakodas is not a job. I say selling pakodas is better than being unemployed. A lot of young people are making a livelihood through their hard work and tasks which are unfortunately considered too menial by some big people sitting here. It is not a shame to make pakodas, but it is shameful to compare it to a beggar. Everyone who makes a living through his hard work is as dignified as the people sitting in this august House,” said the BJP President.

Shah listed Jan Dhan accounts, Swachhh Bharat, Mudra loans, Skill India et al among the “50 historical achievements” of the BJP in the last three years.

“In the last 70 years, only one family has ruled for 55 years. It is a matter of shame that in all these decades over 60 per cent families in India had no bank account. We have done 50 such historical things that are usually done by government in 25-30 years of their tenure. We have opened 31 crore Jan Dhan accounts...This is a big achievement,” said Shah.

Published on February 05, 2018
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