Delhi has a large number of foreign press correspondents representing various foreign media organisations. Some of them have come to India to specially cover these national elections. Yesterday, I made a brief introductory statement to them and then left it to the correspondents to question me.
With that in context, I will deal with some of the key issues which appear to be of interest to international media. These issues obviously include those which are of great interest to foreign readers and viewers.
I was asked by a correspondent as to how the BJP will re-establish confidence in Indian economy. I answered that the BJP’s top priority would be to restore the investment cycle in the country. The UPA has damaged the confidence in the Indian economy and marred its investment cycles. India is no longer regarded as an investment destination where there is an ease of doing business. Clearing projects takes unusually long. Some states have been discriminated against. The Prime Minister never had the last word on clearing these projects.
The BJP’s priority would be to generate economic activity in the country so that international and domestic investors both feel that India is a better place for doing business. On Foreign Direct Investment, I categorically stated that the BJP regards FDI as an ‘additionality’ of resource which will generate economic activity, but our commitment to FDI would be sector-specific. We are opposed to FDI in multi-brand retail because India is still not prepared for it.
On retrospective taxation, I clarified that the imposition of retrospective taxation during the UPA regime was a defining moment for subverting the investment climate in India. Stability of tax regime has to be maintained. Retrospective legislation for taxation is permissible only when taxes already collected are to be protected. Taxes which impose fresh liability should not be legislated with retrospective effect.
On the economic model that the BJP would follow, I stated that the BJP economic model would be such that it generates economic growth. It should encourage entrepreneurship. However, considering large scale poverty in India we cannot merely depend on the economic growth to pull people out of poverty. Poverty alleviation schemes are necessary. The schemes, however, have to be also linked to asset creation.
On foreign policy, I clarified that our policy in dealing with the neighbourhood countries would be dictated by security considerations. However, our policy in relation to rest of the world would be influenced by economic considerations. Looking East-wards, our specific concerns about security issues relating to the Indian Ocean would be of prime interest.
On the possible outcome of the elections, it was clarified that a fractured mandate will be detrimental to national interest. The NDA needs a clear mandate in order to put the national economy back on wheels. Opinion polls are predicting that the NDA would be the frontrunner. The last minute push to the frontrunner will take us beyond the halfway mark. The Indian electorate is very mature.
The Captain is again Wrong
There is a report in the media today that Captain Amrinder Singh says that I am an extremely busy lawyer in the Supreme Court and a lawyer who charges exorbitant fee. He has further stated that I would be unwilling to lose my lucrative practice to serve the people of Amritsar. The Captain is intoxicated about himself. He does not check facts. I have stopped practising law five years ago when I became the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha. I had given up my ‘lucrative’ practice at that time. I have even suspended my professional licence. But has the Captain been ever sure of his facts?