Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Sep 28:
Former Union Minister and sitting Rajya Sabha MP Mani Shankar Aiyar has said that Naveen Patnaik might win the next Odisha election due to lack of competition.
Speaking at the launch of his book ‘Ache din Ha! Ha!’ here yesterday, Aiyar said that there was no leader in Congress or BJP to stand against Naveen Patnaik. The condition of Odisha Congress is as pitiable as it is in Tamil Nadu. The condition of the BJP is no better and hence Naveen Patnaik might win the next state election too, he added.
Coming down hard on the BJP government in the centre, the eminent columnist said that it has failed to deliver on the promises it had made to the common man before the election. Modi government had promised to bring back all black money to the country within 100 days, but nothing has happened even after 500 days it came to power.
The veteran politician was speaking at a function organised in Jaydev Bhavan to launch his book about one year of Modi Government. The book titled ‘Ache din Ha! Ha’ is a collection of newspaper articles that Ayer had written before the last election and in the one year of the BJP government.
Explaining his oft-quoted ‘chaiwalla’ jibe at the Prime Minister in the runup to the last election, Aiyar said his comment had been twisted to gain sympathy byr Narendra Modi.
“He had committed repeated bloomers while speaking at election meeting. He failed to make a distinction between Taxila and Nalanda. He also made misleading comments about Patliputra. Commenting on his lack of knowledge of history, I had said; “Let Modi be given a chance to sell tea at the AICC session.” But he twisted it to his advantage and made it appear as if I had taken a dig at him for being ‘chaiwalla’,” the former minister said.
In answer to a question put by ‘Sambad’ Editor Soumya Ranjan Patnaik during the panel discussion that followed the launch of his book, Aiyar said that if a party gets 30 per cent votes in our country, it can get 55 per cent of the seats in the parliament. The opinion of the rest 70 per cent people becomes irrelevant.
On the poor performance of Congress during the Lok Sabha elections, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s buddy said that the party’s downfall started after the Common Wealth Games scam and continued with the exposé of one scam after another. The final nail in the coffin was the coal scam into which the name of then PM Manmohan Singh was dargged, he added.
The election process in India is no longer a democratic process; it is fast becoming a personality driven election like the US elections, Aiyar lamented. Jayalalita in Tamil Nadu, Naveen Patnaik in Odisha, Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal and Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi are examples of this new phenomenon, he said. Only Modi is being promoted at the Centre, so there is no Indian government but Modi government in India, he said.
He pointed out that very young and first timers have been given crucial ministries, like Smurti Irani, Dhramendra Pradhan and Piyush Goel.
Asked if Rahul Gandhi would be the Prime Ministerial candidate of the Congress in the next election, Aiyar said there was no one else of his stature in the party.
Disagreeing with Aiyar’s view about Naveen Patnaik’s chances of coming back to power in 2019, Patnaik said the former Union minister’s prediction about the 2014 elections was far off the mark.
He, however, said that the 500 days of Modi government were not very encouraging and if the Union government continues the for the next 500 days the way it has done so far, it will become very difficult for it to get a majority in the next election.
The question-answer session was conducted by Suparno Satpathy, the head of Srimati Nandini Memorial Trust (SNMT). The book launch function was organised by Oxford Book Store and Palimsest Publishing House.
Speaking on the occasion, Puri MP Pinaki Mishra said while Odisha had benefited in the Railway budget and mines royalty during the Modi regime, its rightful claim to special category status had been ignored.
No Congress leader attended the event.