started his political career in 2002 after the tragic death of his father in a plane crash. Having studied in Harvard University and Stanford University, he has also worked as an investment banker in Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley prior to joining politics. In an interview with Shashikant Trivedi
, the Congress leader claimed the UPA was successful in taming inflation and that the Congress would come back to power. Excerpts:
The common man is not happy with UPA-II due to the high inflation rate. How will you convince him that your government will arrest inflation if voted to power again?
I don't necessarily agree with this. The UPA-II has done a credible job in terms of its agenda for the people; its social outreach programmes and I certainly believe that it will hold in good state.
And I also believe our social programmes -whether rural employment guarantee programme or food security Bill - combined with high economic growth rate, except for the last year, will certainly deliver benefits to India in the long-run. But don't forget the world has gone through a very difficult time in the past two-three years.
And I think in that adverse environment, India has still formed the highest ever forex reserves of close to $300 billion, we have brought inflation under check. Our growth curve is now going to increase. I believe we have delivered wonderful social agenda programmes to the people of India and they will bring back UPA-III.
Again, how will you convince the voters that inflation will come down?
As I said, we have already brought inflation under control. We have reduced inflation by almost 300 basis points during the past four-to-five months and we will continue to check it further. Also, UPA-III has a very clear manifesto that it tends to do for the upliftment of the whole of India - not only in terms of islands of prosperity, but a sea of prosperity.
How will you counter the 'Modi wave'?
I really don't think there is a Modi wave. If there were a Modi wave, then we would not have won and formed governments in Uttarakhand and in Himachal Pradesh and other states. It is more of an enigma and an illusion than reality.
But the BJP has introduced him as a Prime Ministerial candidate...
Ours is not an American form of Presidential democracy but a Parliamentary democracy. And what does constitution say in a Parliamentary democracy?
It clearly says that a party is called to form the government; if it succeeds in doing so, then the members of Parliament will elect the leader of their party who will then become the Prime Minister.
The Congress party believes in abiding by the Constitution of India and not breaking the principles of the Constitution, which the BJP so wilfully does.
It seems it has triggered a defection wave in your party…
When you have elections process in place, people keep coming and going, there is nothing new in it. It happens across the country. A number of people have left the Congress but a number of have joined the Congress, too.
But it leaves a different impression among voters…
I said a lot of people have joined Congress also. So it works both ways.
How do you see your portfolio? Many Indian states are still facing power crisis...
Please update your data. The Central government is only responsible for adding on certain amount of power generation capacity. The primary responsibility of supplying it to the public lies with the state governments.
In the past two-and-a-half years, we have added the maximum generation capacity per annum almost greater than 20 gigawatts per annum. India today has 240 gigawatts of generation capacity, which means in the past two years we have added nearly 44 gigawatts of generation capacity. It is more than what has been added during the past 15 years in India.
As a result, both our peak deficit and energy deficit have hit all-time lows. The peak deficit has gone to almost zero, while the energy deficit is down to 2.5 to 2.6 per cent.
How do you see the Lok Sabha elections in Madhya Pradesh?
When we formed UPA-I in 2004, we had four out of 29 seats and in 2009, we improved to 12 out of 29. We will perform well during these elections as well.
But your party suffered badly in recent assembly elections...
Please do not connect the two. They are very different things.
And how do you see the outcome of Lok Sabha elections?
People's verdict determines who comes into government and we, in all humility, will respect the people's verdict. But I firmly believe you will see UPA-III in 2014.
Are you confident of a comfortable majority?
I cannot say that. It has to be determined by the people - and we will accept whatever is determined by the people with all humility.