New Delhi, Feb. 8: At a time Narendra Modi is trying to project himself taller than the BJP, his friend and party colleague Arun Jaitley has offered a reality check.
Jaitley said in contemporary politics, the “age of tall leaders and tall majorities is over” and that regional parties held the “balance of power in determining who rules Delhi”.
The view is one of many weighing in with the BJP brass when mediating on who should lead the NDA coalition and whether Modi’s projection will jeopardise the existing alliance.
Delivering a lecture to college students, as Modi had on Wednesday at a Delhi institution, the Rajya Sabha Opposition leader noted: “No party today is in line for getting a large majority on its own.”
Jaitley singled out federalism as an “issue of prime importance” and explained his line on the equation a national party like the BJP should have with regional parties.
“The anchor of a coalition can be a national party. (But) the regional parties hold the balance of power in determining who rules New Delhi. The two essential ingredients for the functioning of a successful coalition are that the national parties must display large-heartedness for accommodating regional players. Regional parties similarly must evolve a national outlook,” he said.
Jaitley spoke at Mumbai’s KC College of Arts, Commerce and Science on January 31. Copies of the speech were, however, mailed to the media only today.
Unlike Modi, who was fixated on unwrapping his economic outlook for a young audience of commerce and economics students in Delhi, Jaitley’s address, also given to undergraduates, spanned a large swathe of subjects, from poverty eradication and corruption to social justice, cultural intolerance and insurgency.
He took a swipe at “dynastic democracy” and “identity politics”. “Public opinion alone can alter the direction of politics. The real strength of India’s democracy will emerge when surnames and castes are replaced by proven ability and integrity.”
Jaitley listed “strong leadership”, “decisiveness to form a policy” and “credibility” as the sine qua non of “good governance”.
He said India needed 9 per cent growth for the next decade or more and said, if accomplished, it would attract investments that would generate jobs and more revenues for the government.
“How do you reach a 9 percent growth rate? We need to expedite and improve upon infrastructure creation.”