Verbatim
Chanakya - Does AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal remind you of someone from long ago and far away? If you answer VP Singh, you are spot on. There is the same hysteria about corruption, a sanctimonious, superior approach, an irrational anger against all sorts of people, especially those perceived to be privileged and rich. Never mind, that Singh was royalty himself. In recent times, much to my disappointment, Kejriwal, who had promised us a different brand of relevant politics, has shown that, like Singh, he is simply recycling old whines in new bottles. Arvind Kejriwal had no intention of bringing in good governance in Delhi. Why does the former CM not be honest for a change? Admit that Delhi was just a dry run for the Lok Sabha elections.
Narendra Modi - These days if you listen to speeches of Congress leaders, they speak as though they have come from Mangal (Mars)...as though they are not responsible for things happening in this country...as though they have come for the first time and all the wrong that has happened in the country has been done by someone else. A leader came here and spoke about women and their empowerment; he spoke as though it's not their government that is in power and as though he has come from somewhere else.
Fali S Nariman - I thank you for proposing my name as one of eight members of a search committee under the lokpal act 2013. I however, decline the honour. But in deference of the distinguished personnel of the selection committee I must give you the reason why I am not willing to accept the appointment. In my humble view this is no way in which an institution as vital and as important as Lok-pal is to be constituted. The chairperson and members of the Lokpal as ultimately selected may well be pro-jected as democratically chosen by a broad consensus from amongst two levels of selectors but it is precisely for this reason that going by the ludicrous and farcical process being followed, I do fear that the most compe-tent and the most independ-ent and the most courageous will get overlooked.
Sushil Kumar Shinde - Certain section of the electronic media has opened a front against us for the last three to four months. It’s their (media’s) responsibility to report the truth. However, certain elements in the media are orchestrating nasty designs against us. Since I am also in charge of the intelligence wing, I know from where this is coming from. We have been silently working on putting in place checks on them, but they have been running a nasty campaign against us. We will crush these elements in the electronic media.
Swapan Dasgupta - When Modi was catapulted to the national stage, his detractors gleefully expected him to raise the communal temperature, engage in Muslim-bashing and threaten Pakistan with nuclear annihilation. He has let down the critics who came with a pre-determined script aimed at scaring minorities. Modi has not deviated from his central theme: that India has not lived up to its potential and that the future lies in economic development for every Indian. He has not lived up to the liberal caricature of what he represents. For an entrenched elite accustomed to defining what is ‘respectable’, Modi is a threat because he is not from their charmed circle. Modi’s intellectual critics don’t fear for India’s democracy because it is democracy that has heralded a viable non-dynastic alternative; they fear their own irrelevance.
AK Bhattacharya - TSR Subramanian is spot on when he concludes that governance in India has failed to distinguish between policy issues and implementation, which has resulted in sub-optimal results, often leading to undesirable outcomes including corruption. As he says, policy-makers should recognise that "governance is 5 per cent policy and 95 per cent implementation". For this major governance failure, Subramanian blames three economists - Manmohan Singh, C Rangarajan and Montek Singh Ahluwalia, whom he describes as "macroeconomists with little feel or understanding of microeconomic processes".
Bharat Joshi - Brand India is at an all time low. Reportage on India in foreign press (press overseas, as opposed to foreign journalism in India) revolves around three shameful themes: corruption, sliding economic performance, and crimes against women. India bashing has picked up such momentum that almost every event is derided and used as further evidence of all that is feared to be the worst about the "third world". For instance, there was understable shock and outrage over the dastardly Delhi gang rape in Europe (and lack of follow up action), but when the perpetrators were sentenced to death, this was seen as a primitive punishment from a backward country. This is a matter of profound importance. India needs to mend its international image in a hurry.
Pranab Dhal Samanta - The government’s dream Nalanda University project has run into trouble with Chancellor Amartya Sen threatening to resign after the finance ministry raised pointed queries on the financial management of this mega revival plan. The provocation for the crisis, sources said, was the huge expenditure being incurred on maintaining the governing body of the university, known earlier as the Nalanda Mentor Group, as well as the tax-free salaries to the tune of $80,000 dollars per year to some of the top functionaries of the university. Upset by these queries, Sen – who is part of the 12-member governing body – conveyed to the MEA at the highest levels that he would resign if such objections were not opposed and quashed, source said.
Nitish Kumar - Is it possible that the people are happy with my Government’s performance and yet they prefer to vote for another alliance at hustling? Don’t you think the survey reports are self-contradictory? If that’s what going to be the outcome, what is the need for holding elections? Modi should go ahead and take oath as Prime Minister straightaway if he and the BJP think that they have won the general elections on the basis of the survey reports.
Koenraad Elst - Art. 295A was never the doing of Hindu society. It was imposed by the British on the Hindus in order to shield Islam from criticism. The reason for its enactment was the murder of Pandit Lekhram in 1897 by a Muslim because Lekhram had written a book criticizing Islam. While the British authorities sentenced the murderer, they also sided with him by retro-actively and posthumously punishing Lekhram. Though originally and for a long time serving to shield Islam, Hindus gradually discovered that they too could use the religiously neutral language of this Article to their seeming advantage. Christians as well have invoked it, e.g. to ban Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code. This creates a sickening atmosphere of a pervasive touch-me-not-ism, with every community outdoing the other in being more susceptible to having its sentiments hurt.
Meghnad Desai - The hegemonic elite, which has controlled the generation and dissemination of ideas for the last few decades, has been shocked by the continued popularity of NaMo. It is not supposed to happen. It must be, they say, the corporate powers or some conspiracy. So they read the tea leaves again and again and hope it won’t happen. Hence, the hectic activity on the Third Front. Each turn of the kaleidoscope reveals a new combination to deny the BJP its chance to form the government. The problem is that even if all these hopefuls realise their dream numbers, they are unlikely to collaborate to form a Third Front. As the Americans say, “Too many chiefs, not enough Indians!”
Sudhanshu Trivedi - AAP did not get the people’s mandate, but it formed the government by deceit, after entering into an alliance that was immoral and full of contradictions. Their tenure was marked by anarchy and an utter lack of respect for constitutional institutions and their dignity. After realising that they were unable to fulfill their promises, they have tried to cover up with resignation. Even at the time of resignation they showed disrespect to the constitution. After virtually losing the confidence of the House over the (introduction of) Jan Lokpal Bill, they recommended its dissolution.
Tavleen Singh - From ‘reliable sources’ in the Kejriwal camp, the news is that he is desperate for his Government to be brought down and it is to this end that almost on a daily basis he says or does something that he hopes will make the Congress withdraw its support. In this city of rumours, rumour has it that Arvind Kejriwal wants to get out of being Chief Minister of Delhi so that he can be a contender for Prime Minister. Rumour also has it that there are others among his comrades who do not want him to exit the Delhi Government because they themselves would like to become the Prime Minister. Rumours in Delhi cannot be believed but they cannot be discounted either. The victory in Delhi has made AAP dream big dreams.
CBI director Ranjit Sinha - There were political expectations... The UPA government would have been very happy if we had charged Amit Shah...But we went strictly by evidence and found there was no prosecutable evidence against Shah. There were some doubts, but that was not enough to amount to evidence. Clearing Shah is testimony to the fact that it is a fair and thorough investigation.
Janardan Dwivedi - This (reservation on caste lines) should have come to an end. Why it did not happen so far was because vested interests got into the process. Does the real needy person even among the dalits and backward castes get the benefits of reservation? Those in the upper crust of these communities only avail the benefits. There is a difference between social justice and casteism. The concept of social justice has now turned into casteism... I believe there is a need to dismantle this. Since Rahul Gandhiji is seeking views of people directly for the party manifesto, I am now urging him that he should take a bold decision.
Coomi Kapoor - During his interview with Times Now, Rahul Gandhi did not look straight into the camera. This was partly because his sister Priyanka Vadra was sitting in the room and he seemed to be addressing some of his answers to her. In fact, at one point in the interview, the Congress vice-president turned to Priyanka and said, “I keep telling my sister…”. Robert Vadra reportedly advised his brother-in-law to grant the interview to Times Now, although another channel had been given the impression that it would be first in the queue. Whether out of deference to Priyanka, or because of a prior agreement, Arnab Goswami, who did not shy away from hard-hitting questions, did not raise the issue of Vadra’s extensive land deals.
R. Jagannathan - We still don’t know what May 2014 will bring. But we have been wrong all along on Modi. In 2012, we said he may not win big in Gujarat, but he did; later we said he will not be able to overcome the internal party feuds to grab the party’s nomination, but he did; we said that he will not get allies – but he has. To his eternal allies – Shiv Sena and Akali Dal - he has now added two in Tamil Nadu and got back one BJP dropout Karnataka. Andhra, Haryana and Assam could be next. Whether these allies will add to BJP’s power, of course, is another question. On the other hand, it is the Congress which has been losing allies steadily. This certainly does not mean Modi will clear the last two hurdles – the challenge from AAP, and overcoming the Congress’ final challenge with Rahul thrown in as trump card – before making it to the prime ministership.
Arun Jaitley - Congress leaders were seen leading the mobs. Sikhs were massacred at thousands of places. No where did the police fire a single bullet to disperse mobs…In Gujarat, thousands of people were arrested. The badly over-powered police fired at several places. The chief minister of the state government personally went through several inquiries including the Supreme Court-constituted SIT and no evidence was found against him. What has Rahul to offer to this country?... Is he too confused to get into the specifics and therefore, goes into the generalities? But, in contrast, Modi was born in poverty and he has come up to the level of becoming the prime ministerial candidate due to his hardwork, integrity and record in governance.
President Pranab Mukherjee - Elections do not give any person the licence to flirt with illusions. Those who seek the trust of voters must promise only what is possible. The Government is not a charity shop. Populist anarchy cannot be a substitute for governance. False promises lead to disillusionment, which gives birth to rage, and that rage has one legitimate target: those in power.
Chetan Bhagat - AAP's rise was astonishing, but the trust erosion they have created in such a short time is equally so. They should have quit the Lok Sabha race and focussed on Delhi. However, a desire to gain power while they are 'hot', even at India's expense, is where the party of virtue went wrong. Even more wrong than their actions is their intent. Their PR strategy involves destroying society to gain attention. Such actions make them the item girls of politics. Frankly speaking, item girls only go so far.
M.J. Akbar - Populism is a dangerous temptation. It is not limited to offering free power to those who refused to pay bills. It extends to vigilante behaviour in which any complaint is always valid, police is always wrong, and officials are morally bankrupt. Overheated rhetoric can take you perilously close to boiling point very quickly. When Kejriwal threatens to sit in public protest against his own state's police, then there are only a few stages left to chaos. Delhi's citizens voted for change, not anarchy. The one sterling card that AAP continues to possess is the promise to eliminate corruption in administration. Kejriwal won seats because he claimed that he had 300-plus pages of proof against Congress corruption. Someone is bound to ask, soon enough, if he has had any time to read them after becoming Chief Minister.
Salman Khurshid - They are Jurassic. They smell of anarchy. They just demean everything that has been time-tested. They ridicule anything. They question and demean anything… AAP is a real threat to our system. They are anarchist. They want to destroy the system. They are anarchist either by choice or by ignorance. AAP has some of the worst, third grade people across the country. I have been to districts where I have found that the worst stinking persons are the first to join the AAP…they are lucky today because every stink is described as a fragrance for good for them.
Ravi Shankar - Kejri is only doing what Rahul Gandhi wishes to do. Rahul is for massive subsidies for votebanks. So is Kejri. Rahul is for minority reservation, while Kejri woos Muslim votes and wants reservation for Delhi students; just like Marathi manoos Raj Thackeray. Rahul is against big business, so is Kejri who opposes FDI in retail. Kejri could decimate the ageing venal Congress leadership—which is Rahul’s aim. Kejri is India’s new Rahul Gandhi while the Congress party’s Kejri is willing to let his alter ego do the job. Rahul knows Kejri is the only challenger to what Narendra Modi stands for and is allowing the next election to become a contest not between him and Modi, but between Kejri and Modi. Thus, by devaluing the Modi franchise, the Congress plays the puppeteer once more. Replicating the Delhi model at the Centre could be a feasible post-poll scenario, and other ‘secular’ parties would support Kejri to keep Modi and the BJP out.
Narendra Modi - There was a storm over the environment ministry and all files were blocked. No file was moving without money. We had heard of income, sales and excise taxes but for the first time, we heard about a Jayanthi tax in Delhi without which nothing was moving. Till the time that was not paid, files could not be moved in the environment ministry. I have never experienced it myself as I never need it but we are shocked on this. What kind of systems have they developed? And just look at their brazenness. They are playing communal politics. The home minister has written a letter to state governments that if you arrest a law breaker, see that Muslims are not arrested. Why is it so? Does a law breaker have any religion?
Tavleen Singh - AAP’s political vision is so frightening that if implemented (may the gods have mercy!), it could turn India into a Stalinist police state. Citizen Kejriwal has asked every citizen of Delhi to start conducting private ‘sting’ operations on officials who ask them for a bribe or indulge in other forms of corruption. What happens then? Will there be a guillotine in Vijay Chowk to which these officials will be led or will they be tried by an already clogged justice system? And, when every citizen becomes a policeman, what happens to the rule of law?
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