PM allows maximum consultation, says Jaitley

New Delhi, May 30:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is “a hands-on” prime minister who allows “maximum consultation”, union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said.

Arun Jaitley
Arun Jaitley

Appearing in “Aap Ki Adalat” show hosted by India TV Editor-in-chief Rajat Sharma, Jaitley refuted allegations that Modi does not believe in consulting his cabinet colleagues and has concentrated all powers in his hands.

“In a democracy, the prime minister always has the last word. I can’t deny that Narendra Modi is a strong leader but he is a hands-on prime minister who listens to everybody. As is expected in a democracy, his word is final and there is nothing wrong in that,” he said, according to a India TV release.

“Even in (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee government, everybody was consulted but the PM had the last word.”

On the “Economist” describing Modi as “a one-man band”, Jaitley said Modi can’t be compared with his predecessor Manmohan Singh who was portrayed as a “PM in office but not in power” by the same magazine.

“For 10 years, we had a prime minister who had no actual powers. I have been an admirer of Manmohan Singh for his personal competence, but the Congress never gave him a free hand. Had the Congress allowed him to work according to his competence, the history of India would have been different,” he said.

Rejecting Congress vice chief Rahul Gandhi’s charge of Modi government being a “suit-boot ki sarkar”, he reiterated that it actually was a “soojh-boojh ki sarkar” and quipped such arguments come up “when you have no substance in your utterances”.

On Gandhi’s accusations that the NDA government was trying to snatch farmers’ land and hand them over to big corporates, Jaitley retorted that the Congress leader did not seem to have “read either his own party’s land acquisition act nor our act”.

Noting land was needed for urbanisation, highways, irrigation projects and rural infrastructure, he claimed the UPA’s act “would have stopped the development of rural areas of this country”.

Reacting to Congress criticism of Modi’s foreign visits, Jaitley, noting Manmohan Singh had visited 17 countries in his first year, contended Modi’s visits have boosted India’s image abroad.

Rejecting the charge of crony capitalism levelled against the Modi government, he said that it was Congress which indulged in corruption to favour a few business houses.

On Congress’ criticism of Modi announcing e-visa for Chinese nationals without getting a commitment on Arunachal Pradesh, Jaitley said that the state was an integral part of India and there was no question of any compromise on this.

He said during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit, some incidents took place on the border and the prime minister sternly asked the Chinese to withdraw their troops. “That’s the reason why there is by and large peace on LAC..”

On allegations of Modi insulting opposition parties on foreign soil, Jaitley said that it was meaningless in this era of technology as criticism made even within the country gets spread all across the world.

Underlining the economic progress made by India under Modi, he said: “It is being said that India is the emerging bright spot.”

On FDI in retail, Jaitley said the government was against it and “its just that we have not changed the existing policy as a number of changes are taking place in that sector” and this should be taken to mean support. (IANS)

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