Political parties on Tuesday started reacting to former NDA minister Arun Shourie’s stinging ‘views’ of Narendra Modi’s PMO, which he termed the “weakest ever” despite unprecedented “centralisation of functions”.
The current NDA government is “the Congress scaled plus a cow”, said Shourie, a BJP member, probably referring to the beef issue that is currently raging in the country.
Shourie’s comments, made at a book launch function, triggering wagging of tongues. Almost immediately Shourie was trending on twitter and he continues to trend on Tuesday.
As expected, the BJP on Tuesday reacted by saying that Shourie was desperate because he was not part of the present Modi government while the Congress party concurred with the veteran journalist’s views.
“All I can say for our former colleague Mr. Arun Shourie is that somewhere his pain of not being in the government anymore is being reflected through his career nationalism,” BJP’s Sidharthnath Singh.
Another BJP spokesman Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, “Don’t know from where he gets influenced these days and makes such baseless remarks.”
“Dr Singh [Manmohan] ko log yaad karne lag gaye hain [People have started recalling the days of Manmohan Singh]. The way to characterise policies of the government is — Congress plus a cow. Policies are the same,” Shourie said, drawing a warm applause from the audience.
The Congress was understandably happy that criticism for the Modi government has come from within.
“What he [Shourie] has said is the reality. The Congress has always been saying this. This government has done nothing other than making false promises to the people in the last 16 months. They have been keen to make headlines than running the government,” said Congress spokesman Pramod Tiwari.
“[I] agree with him, people are indeed missing Dr Manmohan Singh,” said Manish Tewari, also a Congress spokesperson. “The way the current dispensation has unleashed anarchy in the last 16 months, people are missing days before they [NDA] came to power. I agree with him [Shourie] that people are indeed missing Dr. Manmohan Singh.”
“There is a clearer belief that managing economy means managing headlines about the economy and this is not really going to work,” Shourie said at the launch function ‘Turn of The Tortoise’, written by former Business Standard Editor-in-Chief TN Ninan, on Monday evening.
Manmohan Singh was present at the function, as was Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subranamian and former Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran.
“I feel there was never a weaker a PMO as now. There has never been as great a centralisation of functions, not power, of functions in PMO as now,” said Sourie, who was minister for Telecommunication and Information and Technology in Atal Behari Vajpayee’s NDA government.
Rubbing it further in, Shourie said, “If you see impediments that were there in tax administration, virtually no change… Banking reform has been delayed by year and a half for no reason. So therefore this tortoise is very generous metaphor. Ye to so hi jata hai [this tortoise goes to sleep].”
Shourie also spoke on Indian industrialists, claiming that they were are afraid of speaking against the Modi government. “The industrialists who meet the prime minister don’t speak [the] whole truth. After meeting PM, they wonder what is happening and say ‘please do something’. And in front of media they give the government 9 out of 10,” he said.