New Delhi: In an exclusive interview to NewsX, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman asserted that BJP has given a corruption free and transparent government to the country. Nirmala also advised the Congress party to introspect rather than sharing invaluable data with the people of the country.
NewsX: You leaders say that this win is a vindication for your agenda of development. Your comments?
Nirmala Sitharaman: Undoubtedly this win is for Assam’s development and the party (BJP) and its cadres together with other organisations which are attached to its ideologically. Having worked in Assam now over 10 years intensely and matching with that is also the continuous corrupt and non-performing Congress. So naturally the vote has gone for BJP’s developmental agendas.
NewsX: In the past 2 years what has been the significant contribution or achievement of BJP?
Nirmala Sitharaman: Significant achievement is a corruption-free, working and listening government. A government which is willing to hear its people and then respond to it, act on their complaints and problems. A responsive government which stays completely away from corruption and not a whisper can be uttered.
News X: Are you saying that the cases of corruption have actually gone away in the NDA’s regime?
Nirmala Sitharaman: Corruption has gone far away from us; in fact it is now even discussed. People ask questions about what have we done in some particular sector but nobody talks about corruption and you can’t. Therefore this is one of the biggest achievements to give a transparent and efficient government to the people, which are making an inclusive agenda workable.
NewsX: In comparison to 2015, the year 2016 has seen a lot of slump in terms of industrial productions. Why do you think has this happened and what are the corrective measures your government is taking?
Nirmala Sitharaman: First of all, India now under the ‘Make in India’ initiative brought back the emphasis to the manufacturing sector. This government rightly recognised that if the labour, the skilled labour and qualified workers be provided for, it is manufacturing which has the scope for it. This is the government which focuses on the manufacturing sectors and this is paying off.
NewsX: So is there a co-relation between high interest rates and health of the economy in job growth?
Nirmala Sitharaman: Absolutely; because those who want to create the jobs are finding it expensive to borrow and we are trying to resolve that.
NewX: You went abroad with the PM and signed a lot of MOU’s which involves millions and billions of dollars. How many of them have actually come in because this is also a part of a political narrative. The government signs a lot of MOUs but you realise after a period of time that very few investments come in. So what are the developments by your government in this sector?
Nirmala Sitharaman: See first of all the states have their own mechanism. They hold investors' summits and many of them have successfully identified the investors well in advance, and on the day of the summit they sign the MOU and they really have accounted for it. In fact, most of the states do come back in a month or so to say how many of them have really translated into actual investments. The RTI’s which have come in to different states is a different one. So it is possible to give a picture of what actually is getting invested in the ground after identifying the sector.
News X: What has been your growth story in the past 2 years on ease of doing business?
Nirmala Sitharaman: I think on ease of doing business, we are really doing well. In that the first in 2014 December we identified 96 issues on which we wanted the states to remove hurdles by June 2016, post which the ranking of the states were to happen. We had given them different deadlines for 96 different issues which have to be completed till 30th June. This year, post 2014, we have come up with more than 344 such issues in which the states have to do some cleansing and post it a newer ranking will happen, which we will reveal some time near September or October this year. All the states without any hesitation have participated in it because they realise if the environment will be clean the investors will come in unhesitatingly and for enticing investments it is important for them to catch up. I’m glad to say that the states are volunteering and also seeking help where they need and we are willing to help them.
NewsX: In this context where the regional parties are emerging stronger do you think Congress can stand as a potent force of opposition like a bi-polar when they won the elections in 2009 and BJP stood as an opposition, do you think they will be in any position in 2019?
Nirmala Sitharaman: Well the Congress at this moment is only doing data crunching when they should actually be in the streets working for the people where they hear peoples' cause instead of sitting here and lecturing about who will win. They are becoming so obsessed for 2014 elections and the follow up after that they are just not able to digest that people have thrown them out of the government. They should rather introspect instead of giving us data in front of the media that has absolutely no value. They have lost two state governments; they have just three or four more in the north-east which they have to hold on to. So they first have to do a lot of work to even hold on to those two, three states, much before they even consider 2019.
(Watch video for full interview.)