Congress leader predicts return to power

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-4-13 23:08:01

Ajay Maken

Editor's Note:

India's once-dominant Congress party has been badly bruised by the disastrous election results last year in which Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) scored a sweeping victory. Is the Congress party able to bounce back to power? What chances does it have? Global Times (GT) New Delhi-based correspondent Rajeev Sharma interviewed Ajay Maken (Maken), a senior Congress politician who is very close to likely Congress president Rahul Gandhi and is chief of the Delhi unit of the party, on these issues.

GT: The Congress party has been perceived as stuck in the doldrums since the losses in the 2014 general election. How do you evaluate the impact of the worst defeat since the first Indian general election?

The election results were a setback. But to say we are stuck in doldrums would be an exaggeration. The Indian National Congress is too big a ship to rest in the doldrums.

The impact of the defeat is carving the course of the future of our party. We have faith in the party leadership that it shall take steps to reenergize our cadres. In the past also whenever the Congress has been voted out of power, be it 1977, 1980, 1989 or the 1996 elections, the people have soon realized that only Congress is capable of delivering the governance required to take India forward and we have bounced back in no time.

GT: Does the Congress party need to redefine its position in Indian politics? Have you worked out any strategy or plan to recover from the defeat?

The Congress position in Indian politics is central to the political narrative. Most parties and their position is a counter or reaction to the Congress party. We will stick to our beliefs, principles and ideology, because the idea and existence of India run parallel with them.

GT: Rahul Gandhi is expected to play an active role in reviving the party after his return. In your opinion can he revive the Congress? What role will he play?

Rahul is our vice president and he has been actively and innovatively contributing to the party for a long time. His ideas are impressive and his road map for the party is clear.

It is for the Congress President Sonia Gandhi and him to choose what role he will play, so yes, his leadership will inspire a turn around.

GT: It is forecast that the Congress will take a pro-poor approach in the future if Rahul is appointed president. Will a pro-poor approach help the Congress regain popularity?

In the last 10 years of the Congress government and even before, we have been able to deliver effective governance, achieve high growth rate and bring down poverty in India. Being pro-poor doesn't mean being anti-development or anti-growth.

Congress took India's GDP growth to an unprecedented high, at the same time we were also able to eradicate poverty at an unprecedented rate, 14 million people were brought above the poverty line in a decade of Congress government in India (2004-14). In India, the rate of poverty decline has tripled compared to the preceding decade. Therefore, our mantra is pro-poor with the help of growth and development in the country.

GT: Modi has been in power for over 10 months. What's your view on the performance of the Modi government? Modi's ministers, for example Union Minister Giriraj Singh, have repeatedly made controversial remarks that embarrassed Modi and the BJP. Some claimed that this may help the Congress to bounce back. Do you think so?

The BJP and Modi came to power by making grand and unrealistic promises. Very soon people have realized that they have been misled by the BJP in this election. Now we don't hear about the promises they made. 

In addition to this, the recent utterances of the ministers and BJP's member of parliaments are dramatically opposite to the pre-poll agenda of their party. People are feeling cheated, there's only talk and no implementation in reality. This government is incapable and incompetent.

Corporate India has already gone public with its views about this government's non-delivery on promises and the poor as well as the middle class are at the receiving end of its policies.

GT: How do you see Modi's foreign policy, especially his China policy? Modi will pay a visit to China in May, what do you think will be achieved through the visit?

We hope that he takes steps to strengthen our relationship with China. Border issues are long pending and need to be fast tracked.

GT: As a new party in Indian politics, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is expanding in popularity after the victory in Delhi. How do you comment on the rapid rise of this party?

The AAP is a hyperbole of political success. One should wait and watch how it will govern and fulfil its promises.

The AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal is a dream merchant; people vote and scrutinize their government with open eyes. The last two months have been rather unimpressive.

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