Highlights of the Press briefing Held at 1615 Hours 25.07.2014
Shri P.C. Chacko addressed the media today.
Shri P.C. Chacko said I have a very glad news today. AICC congratulates the people of Uttarakhand where we won all the three bye elections. You all know that in the elections in Uttarkahand, not only that we won our sitting seats, we wrested two seats from BJP of which one seat was the sitting seat of the former Chief Minister Mr. Pokhriyal Nishank. So, for breaking this Modi myth and reposing confidence in the Congress party, we congratulate the people of Uttarakhand.
AICC also congratulate Indian contingent at the Commonwealth Games for winning Seven Medals till now and ranking the country fourth in the medals tally. We convey our felicitations to the medalists – Sujitha Chanu and Sukhen Dey for winning the Gold in Weight Lifting; Mirabai Chanu and Sushila Likmabam and Navjyot Chana for the Silver Medal in Weight Lifting and Judo respectively and Ganesh Mali and Kalpana Thodam for Bronze Medal in Weight Lifting & Judo. India fourth in the medal tally and we congratulate our Medal winners who made us proud.
Shri Chacko said the parliament is now debating an going to adopt i.e. what the government says – increasing the FDI in the Insurance Sector – two crucial legislations – The Security Laws (Amendment) Bill and the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill. These two Amendment Bills are before the House and the government wants to pass these two Bills. I want to invite your attention to little bits to the back ground of these two legislations and the stand taken by the BJP then and now. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs CCEA cleared the plan to increase the FDI in Insurance Sector from 26% to 49%. This was during UPA government’s time. It also cleared the Securities Bill empowering Market Regulator SEBI for stringent action. And in fat, at that point of time, some of you may remember the tweet from the present Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi that UPA is going to sell this country to foreigners. Now they want to pass the Bill, they wasted valuable one year time. Our then Finance Minister personally approached Mr. Arun Jaitley who was then the Leader of the BJP in the Rajya Sabha for their support. They refused and we Congress party believes that foreign direct investment in the Insurance Sector should come. Only 3% of the Indian population has come under the insurance coverage and it was our wish that this should be passed and which has a far reaching effect in the insurance sector. The BJP which wasted one valuable year time not cooperating with the Congress party and now they are before the House to pass this Bill which they can only do with the support of the Congress party. We will take a consistent position but the fact remains that dirty double talk and the double standard of the BJP is being exposed. Not only in this, as we all know, on each and every issue, including the price rise including the rail fare hike including the FDI – everything, those who accused the Congress and the UPA for selling the country to foreigners, now they are offering the very sensitive defence sector for foreign investment. That shows the double talk of the BJP and the delay in the last one year has caused much damage to the Indian economy and we were convinced that that will do good to the Indian economy but they did not allow it to be passed.
Now we find that without any conviction, they are trying to copy some of the programmes of the UPA government. We are for liberalization and we are opening up for economic reforms but always we had a very clear cut view about the liberalization because the Indian society- when we wanted FDI, when we wanted private sector to come, open market forces to take upper hand, we know that the poor people in the country should have the protection of the government. So it was our policy to cast a safety around the poor people of the country. That is why we introduced MNREGA that is why we introduced various flagship programmes of the UPA. Those who condemned those programmes, now are trying to chalk out these programmes and the recent budget is a testimony that these programmes have not even been given due importance. While it was taken up simultaneously by the UPA government. We were going with liberalization of economy policies because we knew that it was the responsibility of the government to protect the poor people. We can read from the 60 days of the performance of the BJP that they do not have a definite line and definite philosophy of liberalization but now they are trying to copy some of our programmes including the FDI in insurance. We think that all which is good for India and Indian economy, we will support but it exposes the BJP. We were subjected to the worst criticism that we are selling out the interests of the country but today we see without much though applied even in the defence sector, it is totally up and down and the consequences were not properly weighed by the Modi government, it seems.
Shri Chacko said UPSC’s Civil Service Aptitude Test examinations were boycotted. There are serious protests by the candidates appearing for the examination and there was a huge protest still going on and the Congress party feels that this government has not taken this very important issue with the seriousness it deserves. When this issue was brought to the notice of the then UPA government when we were in power, the government took this issue very seriously. Even the Congress Vice President Shri Rahul Gandhi Ji on the representation from the candidates appearing for the examination pleaded with the government that there is a genuine demand from the students’ side and the scheme of examination is overwhelmingly in favour of the advantaged section of the society. The scheme of examination is not fair. So, at the request of the Congress Vice President Shri Rahul Gandhi Ji and the Congress President also the then Prime Minister constituted a Committee. Now on then 24th of August the civil service examinations are to begin. 60 days in office, they did not even look at what happened to the committee, they did not pursue with the work the committee have done. They could have pursued and would have taken a decision. If the scheme of examination is not fair, that was our conclusion that is why we appointed an expert committee. There is a demand from the students that it should be postponed and the government should think of postponing the date of examination and also the scheme of examination. That is our suggestion. We could not pursue with the committee’s work because the election process started. We are not in the habit of giving any directions to the UPSC but only when this issue came up and touched their nose, the BJP Minister made a statement yesterday that they have appointed a committee. This committee was appointed by then UPA government.
Shri Chacko further added that when the candidates appearing for the examination said they lost chances because of the scheme of examination, three extra chances were given, two years relaxation in age was given and that advantage all the candidates are getting. These decisions were taken by the UPA government. We feel that this examination should be postponed and also the scheme of examination should be revised also. That of course, we are making this request. It is the opinion of the party. UPSC being an autonomous body they will consider that is how we feel.
Shri Chacko also added that yesterday in the parliament, one of the pet issues of the UPA government was to bring black money from the tax heaven which is there and astronomic figures were presented and a campaign was going on that the day we will come, within 15 days, within 30 days, within 60 days we will bring back the money. One of the senior of the members of the BJP, when our Finance Minister was dosing in parliament said that this money cannot be brought back in his life time. The Finance Minister wished him a long life but this shows that how skin deep their ideas are, when they made a huge big campaign that black money of huge amount will be brought back within days, the people hoped that to happen but now they say it cannot be brought back in their life time. But the part time Finance Minister or the Prime Minister should come out categorically because it is from a senior member of the BJP this statement came in parliament. So, I feel that the Prime Minister should come out with a statement. This was one of their main planks of their campaign in the last election. So they should come out with a satisfactory explanation.
Shri Chacko said there is a very sick mindset of the NDA team as a whole especially the BJP. Today one of Goa Ministers said that India will be a Hindu country very soon under able leadership of the Hon’ble Prime Minister. They can deny, they can say this is all junior people’s views. Today it is the Dy. CM of the State. So the functionaries of the BJP party making these types of irresponsible statements, we have a request. They during the election have communalized this country to the extent that they should not have. The damage they do not understand they cannot fathom the damage they are creating by this kind of campaign. They were trying to communalize, they succeeded to some extent but please do not communalize again this Indian polity. That is what we want to request and India will remain a secular country, those who are anti-secular and those who do not believe in secularism, they started this type of communal campaign. This is coming from all sides, that is why we requested the government and the coalition leading the government to take other issue affecting the people like price rise which is beyond their control, inflation is not within their control, none of their promises are kept, 60 days were wasted but none of the promises were kept but this type of communal campaign is their favourite pastime. Please stop this communalizing the country. This is our request to the ruling coalition.
To a question that do you think the BJP are again going to create communal disharmony, Shri Chacko said not that they are going to do it, they did it and they succeeded. After getting the majority also, they are ruling party, they should know that this country can always not run with the communal slogan but they are resorting to this type of thing which is very damaging for the country. We can request that good sense prevail on them to refrain from these types of things.
On a question whether the Congress party is going to fully support the government in the matter of 49% FDI in Insurance sector, Shri Chacko said support means that we have to see we have to listen to them what is their scheme. We have made a Bill which was cleared by the CCEA, sufficient work was done, circulated and discussed and finally went for their support, they refused to support. Now if that same Bill is there or if there is going to be any change, we have to carefully study because we know that they are not clear about any of these things. They are trying to do something in a haphazard manner what they are bringing before the House.
On a further question on 49% FDI in Defence, Shri Chacko said we are not in favour of the FDI in defence sector. In selective sector, Yes, we are for FDI but we have not taken a decision at any point of time to open the Defence sector for FDI.
On another question that whether the Congress party would request the PM to rein in his party elements and stick to development agenda, Shri Chacko said whether the party elements are behaving like this or whether they have the blessing of the PM, we do not know, we can only believe to them what they have brought in the economic front, other than what we have proposed, other than what the congress has proposed, now they say we will bring GST, we will bring in direct code, so many things, each and every thing which they say today are the programmes proposed by the Congress party, opposed by them tooth and nail, calling us names, accusing us as anti-national. Now they are doing it, means I do not know whether they are convinced they will have a clear cut idea what they are bringing before the House.
On a question whether the Congress party is ready to contest the elections alone in this atmosphere, Shri Chacko said I think you are little confused building up the party cannot be done jointly. It is to be done independently. Going for the election is one thing, building up the party is other thing. Shri Rahul Gandhi said we are to go independently and build up the party that is what we are doing in Maharashtra. But coalition is another thing. We are in coalition in many states and coalition experiments successfully. We are having in many states for many decades and we know how to manage. There are issues cropping up, that we will sort it out our leadership is wise enough to sit together and sort out those problems.
Shri Chacko said in fact, we have a sound coalition ruling the state of Maharashtra for the last many years. During the discussions on seat sharing, there may be some kind of clash of interest, that is quite natural and nobody thinks that is the end of everything. Coalition we have practices and we could function successful governments under the coalition in Maharashtra and many other States. With this experience, this problem will be sorted out. Shri Rahul Gandhi has made it very clear categorically on so many occasions which I need not repeat but we in today’s situation in many states, there are coalition and contesting the election as coalition, strengthening the party there is a road map being prepared by Shri Rahul Gandhi Ji. That is another matter.
Coming back to the victory in Uttarakhand, Shri Chacko said within 60 days we have won bye-elections in Uttarakhand. People have started losing faith in the present dispensation. Public opinion will change. Making all wild allegations promising everything which they even do not believe and finally not doing anything, can anybody feel that this is the government which performs?
On the question of the reaction of the Congress party over the report published in Saamna – mouthpiece of Shiv Sena over chapati issue, Shri Chacko said just imagine
the level to which our politics is stooping down. Whether it is the chapatti issue or it is the Goa Deputy Speaker statement, that shows the sick mindset of the people and we condemn that. We want to keep distance from such comments. I do not want to react on the same. How can they be in a civilized society when these type of things can go on.
On a further question that there is a rumour that since the present government does not have more business, the present session can be cut short, Shri Chacko said they are in full majority. They can extend, they can cut short, when they have no definite idea about anything. They wanted to pass some important Bills. Today they feel that they cannot and can curtail the session, it is their sweet will.