By Brajendra Nath Singh,
New Delhi : The charisma of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has dimmed and it would be highly problematic for the BJP to return to power in 2019 if the grand alliance of the opposition parties takes shape, says Sikkim’s sole MP P.D. Rai, whose Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) is a constituent of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
“We, as a regional party, will surely win the next election. But on the national scene, I think the charisma of Modiji has come down. The divisiveness with which the BJP has acted is something whose backlash is already coming,” Rai told IANS in an interview in Parliament House.
Rai, a two-term MP seeking a third, also says that the non-functioning of Parliament was affecting smaller parties like his and their right to be heard was getting “trampled” by the larger parties.
Referring to Congress’ performance in the recent elections, Rai said that, except in Chhattisgarh, the Congress won in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan with a very small majority but the opposition party will be able to energise its own cadres in a much better way and it may translate into more seats.
“I think there would be a tough fight between the two sides and I think if the ‘mahagathbandhan’ (grand alliance of opposition parties) takes shape, it could be highly problematic for the BJP,” he said, claiming that “there is going to be a lot of churning within all the parties, including the BJP and the Congress, ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls”.
The SDF MP, who is an alumnus of IIT-Kharagpur and IIM-Ahmedabad, asserted that the public and the intelligentsia were not very happy with the way many of the institutions like the CBI, the RBI were allegedly being attacked by the Modi government.
“This perhaps may go against the BJP,” he said. He made it clear as a party with only one MP in the Lok Sabha, it would, however, always go with the ruling party to safeguard the border state’s interests.
Asked about Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Rai said after having taken over as the president of the party, he has in many ways had a tough time getting the younger people to have some space within the party.
“But he has managed to do that. He has also understood that he has not only to back young people but also to look at the senior people as they are very valuable within the party. This (appointment of Kamal Nath and Ashok Gehlot as chief ministers) has sent out a good message to the senior cadre of the Congress. This is something which, I believe, is a very positive development for the Congress,” he said.
Rai, a member of the Parliament Standing Committee on Finance, said that farmers’ plight in the country has emerged as a huge problem but asserted that waiving of loans was not an answer.
“If you waive farms loans there is a big problem on the fiscal side. It is populist to say that I would waive the loans. On the other hand, people say if the corporate loans can be waived, then why not the farmers’ loans. But looking at holistic and structured reforms in the agriculture sector is long overdue.
“This is something we will have to look at. There are many, many pillars around which the farmers’ eco-system thrives and we will have to look into the whole crisis holistically,” he added.
(Brajendra Nath Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)