After having put forward my concerns to Arvind Kejriwal and Rahul Gandhi, I now want to put forward my concerns to Shri Narendra Modi of the BJP, the only officially declared prime ministerial candidate. Modi sarkar, in all probability yours will be the alliance with the highest number of seats and you may form the government after 16th May, when the President invites you to do so. But, before that if you could answer a few of my concerns, then it would be nice.
- Why is your party against foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail?
Your party's ideology (when it was formed) was to promote free-market practices, where the market forces decide who does business and who doesn't. To a certain extent, this still happens. That is why one mom-and-pop shop runs better than another, even when both are within half a kilometer's distance of each other. But then, why not extend this to multi-brand retail? Its advantages to consumers are well known and producers are well known. And why fear Walmart's entry? It may be an intimidating organisation, whose practices have partly been responsible for relocation of production sites to China, but then the same Walmart has failed in Germany. It wound up from there within ten years of first setting shop. So, there isn't too much to worry, they will succeed if we Indians allow them to succeed, else they will fail. By not supporting FDI in multi-brand retail, you are not only deviating from the stated ideology of your party, but also pandering to the small time traders, many of whom have cheated this country in millions of rupees in income taxes. Extremely few of them issue proper receipts. Most do not have a return policy in place.
- Why do you always sound "Me, myself and Irene" (although not in a comic, but a worrying way)?
In all your interviews, you have been saying "I have done this in Gujarat", "in my Gujarat, I won't want this or that to happen", etc. I have rarely found you giving credit to the team that you lead. Yes, as a leader you are expected to be strong, clear and decisive, but then you bring yourself out as Superman, who is capable of performing difficult and multiple tasks single-handedly and successfully. But, people should understand that all the work is, at the very least, executed by a team (if not conceived in part or whole). Of course, your attitude, perhaps, helps them in performing their tasks without fear of interference, but without them none of your ideas would be executed. So, please show us that you have been successful in building a lean-mean poverty, corruption and many other evil fighting machine. Your interviews and speeches make you appear a Hulk, rather than a Eisenhower or Roosevelt.
- What is the obsession with the Ram Mandir programme?
Your party couldn't resist putting the Ram Mandir programme in its manifesto. This, despite knowing that the matter is sub-judice. Of course, you did put in a rider saying that it would be through constitutional means, but then what is not revealed is most vital! Your party's plan to keep the Ram Mandir issue in the spotlight. This at a time when there are a large number of people who can barely eke a living out of their present occupations. Wouldn't it be more prudent to first work on development projects, like infrastructure, sanitation, encouraging industries boosting income, etc. before putting forth the Mandir agenda? I'm not speaking as a middle-class person who wants a job-security, but even those staying in Ayodhya (and Faizabad) are more worried about their current state of existence and end up looking at places out of their towns for employment, because of lack of opportunities there. The only ones successfully managing are the Mahants, the Hindu and Muslim organisations who solicit donations in the temple/mosque's name from tourists and pilgrims who come to visit Ayodhya and of course, the shopkeepers outside the temples. I would love to see Ayodhya developed as a centre of pilgrimage, but not when the centrepiece of all that matters is sub-judice.
- What is your stand on vigilance organs of the administration?
The promise to fight against corruption has been a big trump card of your election campaign. But, in your own state the post of the Lokayukta has been vacant for quite some time and your government is in constant clashes with the governor on various issues regarding appointing a new Lokayukta. If this is your enthusiasm about the vigilance organs of the state administration, then how are we supposed to believe in your dedication to fight corruption? Indira Gandhi had once talked about having a "committed bureaucracy". Are you also looking forward to the same?
- Why don't you acknowledge the chinks in the Gujarat model?
No model or government can be perfect. And, of course, in today's 27x7 media world governance is a game, more about perception than reality. But still, why have you not acknowledged that there are some goals still to be achieved. E.g. the water of the Narmada not yet reaching quite a few farmers. Or absence of properly functioning schools in some districts. The people of Gujarat are happy with the BJP government and hence have voted you to power twice over. But a lot still has to be achieved and you have to at the very least acknowledge that. And of course, there are unhappy people. It isn't without reason that the strength of the BJP hasn't been able to cross its tally of seats that it held in the previous assembly.
Sir, I sincerely hope that you will address some of these concerns of mine. Since your party hasn't been in power in the Centre, I can't ask you the questions that I put forward to Rahul Gandhi. But still, I hope I don't have to put those questions to you some time down the line.