New Delhi: Asserting that the days of “khichdi politics” are over, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, says that the proposed mahagathbandhan is an “alliance of opportunists”. The results of the 2014 general elections heralded a “paradigmatic shift” in India’s politics and economic governance, he claims.
“There is widespread acknowledgement among India’s citizens that the days of khichdi politics are over, and the proposed ‘mahagathbandhan’ or a grand coalition is nothing more than an alliance of opportunists,” he writes in the Introduction of his upcoming book, “Delusional Politics”.
He bases his claims against coalition politics on two reasons: first, corruption, economic mismanagement and lethargy in international affairs during the Congress-led UPA II, according to him, brought India to a standstill. The second reason, says Puri, who has had a distinguished four-decade career in diplomacy spanning both the bilateral and the multilateral arenas, is that the Congress party, which played a pivotal role in ensuring India’s freedom, has been reduced to a “fiefdom, headed by the Gandhi family”.
“India was crying out for a second independence. The results in May 2014 and the state assembly elections over the past four years only proved this point,” Puri writes in the book which will be launched later this month at the Jaipur Literature Festival. It is being published by Penguin Random House India.
He says India’s Grand Old Party is faced with “serious existential questions”. Puri also dismisses the suggestion that Congress’ victory in three Hindi heartland states in December, 2018 removed this existential threat to the Congress. “In all three states, the BJP was the incumbent, and yet, in two of these states, the Congress barely managed to scrape through. In Madhya Pradesh, for instance, the BJP was the incumbent for fifteen years, and still managed to receive a slightly higher vote share (41 per cent) than the Congress (40.9 per cent).
“In fact, the Congress by itself did not even reach the halfway mark, and needed the support of the BSP to form a government. The suggestion therefore that the phoenix has risen from the ashes could still be premature,” he argues. Puri, who has previously authored “Perilous Interventions: The Security Council and the Politics of Chaos”, heaps praise on the achievements of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government at the centre, counting on programmes such as the Swachh Bharat Mission, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, and Jan Dhan Yojna, among others, to conclude that he has “no qualms in predicting that these measures will hold the BJP in good stead going into the general election in 2019”.
Quoting Cambridge historian Angus Maddison, Puri notes that India’s contribution to global output stood at 27 per cent in 1700, and regrets that the figure came down to 3 per cent by 1950, and is at approximately 13 per cent today. He argues that imperialism, followed by “sixty-odd years of Congress rule” never allowed India to become one of world’s leading economies.
Puri, who held ambassadorial posts in London (1999-2002), Brazil (2006-08), and was India’s Permanent Representative to the UN in both Geneva (2002-05) and New York (2009-13), claims that under Modi, india is poised to become a $5 trillion economy by 2025, and a $10 trillion economy by 2030.
“This increase in GDP, along with substantial increase in per capita income, requires stability at the very top of the decision-making system. India needs another ten years of PM Modi to reattain its pre-colonial economic strength. It is well on its way to regaining its rightful place in the universe,” he contends.
Billed as “a blow-by-blow account of the worldwide political unrest”, “Delusional Politics” has been endorsed by Kevin Rudd, former Prime Minister of Australia. In the book, he argues that many democratically-elected leaders of the 21st century have displayed “streaks of recklessness, megalomania, bizarre self-obsession and political views that are difficult to characterise”. His book studies the actions of contemporary political leaders and covers Brexit, the election of Donald Trump, the rise of the BJP under Modi and decision-making with respect to global governance, terrorism and trade.