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The Great India Debate: India's Growth Story Cannot Afford Another Era of Coalition Politics

The debate, organized by BW and The Debating Society Of India, brings together 8 of India’s most powerful and articulate intellects - Mr. Swapan Dasgupta, Mr. Kiran Karnik, Mr. Arif Mohammad Khan, Mr. Gurcharan Das, Mr. Bhuvan Lall, Mr. Sanjay Jha, Ms. Shazia Ilmi, Mr. Raghav Chadha, Mr. Sunil Alagh and Ms. Priyanka Chaturvedi.

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The Great India Debate, a regular event of BW Businessworld, brings together the thought leaders from multiple domains and present multiple opposing views on a particular burning topic. This season of GID opened up the discussion against a coalition government.

The topic of the debate: India's Growth Story Cannot Afford Another Era of Coalition Politics

The speakers For The Motion and Against The Motion are as below:

For The Motion
Against The Motion 
Mr. Bhavan LallMr. Gurcharan Das
Mr. Swapan DasguptaMr. Sanjay Jha
Mr. Sunil AlaghMr. Kiran Karnik
Ms. Shazia IllmiMs. Priyanka Chaturvedi
Mr. Arif M KhanMr. Raghav Chadha

Mr. Bhuvan Lall, Film Producer & Author

We are meeting in very special times, we are all aware of what's happening on our borders. We know, really, tough situations are being faced by our soldiers, pilots and defence personals. But we are a country which has seen everything we have seen escorts, we have seen kings of kings like Emperor Ashoka and we have seen brave warriors like Shivaji. Seventy-two years ago we couldn’t vote because we were being ruled by a foreign country, an imperial power. A power so massive that was close to a World Cup but then we rose and we threw them out. On July 1st, in 1943, a man got off the plane in Singapore airport, he had a very difficult task ahead but he was a leader of leaders, he was a patriant of patriance and he was ready to face that challenge.

The man I'm referring to is Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. He wasa true leader, he was a man who fought the British on the battlefields of Kohima and Imphal. If it was him running this country, we would be completely somewhere else today. Nevertheless as I said, Subash Chandra Bose didn't march in front of Red Fort as he had dreamt, but it's soldiers reached the Red Fort as prisons and the eye in a trial which has been wiped out from our history books is the reason why the British left us, when they faced a force stronger than the British Empire with will of the Indian people. 

Subash Chandra Bose’s eye was unique, it was different from any political formation of that time when the country was fighting on communal life. There was one man who had an army with him is only one kitchen, one slogan - Jai Hind, that's alive in today. And one more crime Delhi Chalo, “tum mujhe khoon do mae tumhe azaadi dunga”. These are leaders, tremendous leaders, and now 72 years later when the world is watching close to 1 billion who are going to vote democratically. Just look at what's happening around us, somebody mentioned there's an emergency going on. No sir, we are debating in Delhi as our pilots are saving in this country. There is no emergency going on here. We have a fabulous tradition of debate, India is a debating society.  

Whatever may be happening around us, we will debate, we will discuss. And a few weeks from now you will be in election mode. You will choose a leader and where you want this leader to take us. Into the chaos-er coalition position where people are doing unnecessary corruption just to keep the government going or leader that will take us to 2047 when we will be a 20 billion dollar economy. Where are our dreams, where are our we after 72 years. We have first verdict left, we can send satellites into space, we are capable of an IT industry which emerged out of nowhere. Now the IT industry is looking at a one trillion dollar first military of growth that market is waiting for us. 

The creativity of India, the scientific knowledge of India, the ancient traditions of India is what the world needs. And when the world looks at us, we should not look like some ragtag army of jokers, we should look like a stable country with the stable leadership and serious agenda to make India wish grow. That's the dream all our children have and what we want our country to take forward to. We can't see regionalism, parochialism and personal agendas dominate a national agenda. When you want a country of the size and disparities of India to move forward, you need a strong leader. I'm not speaking forward or against any party, I wish the other party had leaders like Jawahar Lal Nehru today, they very often bring that up. He was a world-class leader, no question about it. But sadly, we don't have that leadership, but one side. We need a perspective of 20-plus years not 3 year terms or 5 year terms, not cabinet positions just being on personal relationship basis. We need visionaries to take us forward. That is the India I dream of, that is the India I want to live in and that is the India I want you guys to enjoy.

BW TV: Watch Bhuvan Lall's Speech at Great India Debate

Mr. Swapan Dasgupta, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha

At one time, I thought this was probably a very inappropriate debate given to me, partly because today we are facing a moment where national solidarity rather than  national differences should be highlighted. Nevertheless, I think when the Debating Society of India organized this debate, we are all sincere and did not anticipate it.

So we'll do a little play acting for the moment and pretend that it's normal times. But remember, it is not normal times. Ladies and gentlemen, I had a look at the sort of demographic profile and that's the sort of occupational hazard of anyone who's in politics these days is to look at the demographic profile of the audience and I came to this conclusion that like me most of you are into nostalgia. 

A lot of us could remember the days when we could you know on in those innocent days as we like to call it when we could tune on to one television station where the idea of remote control didn't happen. We remember the days of endless queues for Railway tickets, etc……  the one Airline which we flew. 

We also remember not tax long ago. Another time when we had recurrent political crisis almost on a bi-monthly basis. When we know is the government gonna survive, is the government going to fall and then a journalist, I remember the Anodyne saying oh the next 24 hours is going to be very crucial. 

We remember the time, again going back to nostalgia, when almost every second day was a scam a day. When the amounts involved ran into trillions or even more and headlines used to have more zeros, and they had a space for. We remember the times,  again, if you want to be nostalgic when we thought the future of India lie in buying a one-way ticket out. And a lot of our children have exercised that unfortunate option. 

Remember the days when bombs used to go off in the marketplace, when we have terrorists attacking us for 3 days. When the only response was we will use all diplomatic means necessary in our command. When we took out candle light marches and expressed our indignation and thought well, we have defeated the terrorists morally. To defeat terrorists morally, to people defeating people who lack morals  must be a great achievement. No doubt, I must compliment ourselves for having that great insight into that. But I think over the past four to five years, there's been a sudden transformation in India. And I think the transformation has come about, some would say, it's come about because there's a man with a 52-inch somewhere there.  

But I think the transformation has come about partly because the electorate, in its wisdom, in 2014 said ‘enough is enough’. And that there is a need, if this country is to survive, if this country is to go ahead, if this country is real get out of this  stigma of being a sort of, you know, unfortunate third world nation, then we need to be a little more decisive in our choices.  And that decisive choice is what confers certain advantages from to a private inspector. If you want to regress, I think regression is very easy. If you want to go back to the days of when the next 24 hours is going to be crucial whether the government will survive, whether we do not know how to deal with certain attacks, where we cannot exercise the most difficult options, where we cannot roll back  for the first time in 50 years. The advancing tide of corruption, which is really the biggest strength, the biggest achievement of this government having exercised difficult and what was thought to be impossible options of actually taking up. 

If you want to vote in the coming elections for another election, we want to make elections an annual affair, then I suggest we exercise the choice of coalitions. Otherwise, we are on a good path. Let us stick to it. 

Rafael is very considerably, a figment of your (Congress Party’s) imagination . It was an imagination which didn't appeal to people like the Supreme Court of India. It was an imagination that didn't appeal to the Comptroller and Auditor General (of India) and therefore it must have been an imagination because slightly Limited in its scope and magnitude I think most important thing is I wanted to say, this is the most serious point is that corruption in India has not ended but we have started rolling back the tide of corruption. We can no longer say it's getting worse every year we can no longer just as we no longer say inflation is terrible. You can no longer say that. And it's a similar pace and there are a lot of people who've been hurt by this. Understandably you (Congress) are hurt. 

A small example -There have been 8 crore fraudulent beneficiaries who be weeded out not necessarily only by technology but also by an exercise of political will. There is also being one class which has been rendered unemployed particularly in Lutyens Delhi. That's the class called the middlemen and brokers. 

Elections and Corruption are two different things. You know, elections are the costliest in Southern India. And it's probably the cheapest in Bihar and West Bengal. So there is, to some extent, an inverse relationship between economic growth and election expenses. It's an interesting point. But I think the more important thing is that as we get more and more technologically savvy and if we can stop the idea of retail corruption in elections, whereby the voter’s slip is accompanied by a 500 rupee note as often happens in Southern India as we've all seen it.. And this is the malaise I think which we needs to be tackled. And I think it's a national problem. It's not something which is confined to one political party. As I said, we have only begun rolling back the tide of corruption. It is huge move ahead of us. 

There are certain countries where because of the vagaries of the electoral system, you always have coalitions . Germany is one, Israel is another. You always have. You cannot probably envisage a situation where you don't have coalitions. But there are coalitions and coalitions. I think he (Mr. Karnik) might know the experience of what Coalition culture doesn't handle. We also have a certain situation where in the past we have members the two or three member parties , it can put a veto on an entire system. We have in 1996-97 one person who said I don't like the idea that the Tatas and Singapore Airlines should have flying rights. It was a lobbyist for some particular group, which has  probably gone bankrupt. He exercised an option. In other words, every single particular lobby. In India, like in any other democracy lobbies exist. I guess they should exist perhaps. But when that lobby exercises the power of veto,  which is what coaltions end up doing and this at this time when our growth story is such that we have to exercise difficult choices. That difficult choices cannot, under the give us the Coalition culture in India, be exercised if sort of different rainbow coalition of somebody who believes in caste politics somebody who believes in maverick politics somebody who believes in special status, somebody who believes that it should be the right of the pollution should be to exonerate people from jail.  If these diverse I guess I brought about, I think it's not nearly enough but itself is it's probably the end of India's growth story. Once again, India will have become a ‘might have been’ story. 

BW TV: Watch Swapan Dasgupta's Speech at Great India Debate


Mr. Sunil Alagh, Former Managing Director & CEO, Britannia Industries


Let me start by saying what I mean by coalition. Coalition of dependence is what you have to avoid. What is happening in MP today is that you have Congress with 114 seats along with one seat of SP and one seat of BSP. That is the worst kind of coalition because you are depending on two individuals for your government to stay in power. Coalition of the same ideology whether it is Shiv Sena, or BJP, or SP, it is not a coalition in my mind. So, for the future of India, it depends on the fact that we do not ever have coalition of dependence. It is not the numbers that matters. It is not a question of one or two Vajpayee governments that came down and again.  

If you have different ideologies together and if you think you are forming a coalition, it is not going to work. It becomes a question of how you stay in power. It is not a question of moving in one direction. Of course, one makes mistakes in any coalition. Today Raghav is here.  I was reading your budget. Your government was presenting in spite of not getting statehood, can you imagine if they were running a coalition? What will happen to them if they had five other parties?  

So, what I am trying to say- avoid the coalition of dependence always in your life. That is what I am standing for. An economic growth means what?  I am talking about economic growth for India for the next 10 years. Why do you need one particular party? Vote for BJP, vote for Congress as you like but stability will come only when you gave coalition that does not depend on any other parties for power. That is the most important. Of course everybody will live in India in coalition. Who is going to live with simple argument like that? But do we need that kind of coalition as this Gathbandhan is all about when Mamta Banerjee is screaming, Mayawati wants something, Samajwadi wants something else then you have a complete Khichri which you have spoken about which to be avoided at all has cost.  

But if your ideology is to remove one man, one party as we all get together and if we will win then we decide what we do. Then that will never last as far as we are concerned. Let me bring in little bit of corporate world as you say running the company is not as running the country. But, take the case of Microsoft, Windows never agreed as you got Windows Alphabet and Windows X as Microsoft said if you got a coalition like this we get nowhere. So if you have to let in your system work well under the complete control of Microsoft. Then the company moves forward. That is the way country will move forward. So if you have a coalition today whether it is of ideological parties that all working let the government run it a coalition in spite of being a powerful party. As other side of coalition, you tend to become a controller.  I would sum up as: vote for the government that is enables the country to move forward, get down to the poorest and bring growth otherwise it is not going to happen. 

BW TV: Watch Sunil Alagh's Speech at Great India Debate


Ms. Shazia Ilmi, Official Spokesperson, BJP

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh could not have been more candid describing his own predicament when he admitted that he had to make some compromises on the reintroduction of DMK’s A Raja into the cabinet in 2009 as Telecom Minister despite complaints against him.  

Let's look at the lifespans of coalition governments -- the Charan Singh phenomenon could not face the Parliament and went out in 6 months; the next coalition of VP Singh lasted a mere 11 months; Chandra Shekhar’s was even more short-lived - four months before he lost his majority.

HD Deve Gowda’s I K Gujral’s were short-lived governments as well. Atal Bihari Vajpayee talked about the coalition dharma, of course, the mature prime minister after him, Manmohan Singh Ji talked about compulsions of coalition.

But Kumaraswami’s contribution to the lexicon of Indian politics in Karnataka is Coalition depression. In 2008, weeks after he was inducted as the CM and you know how he was made the CM he burst into impetuous ears and he said you all are happy, but I'm not; I know the pain of running a coalition government, I have swallowed the poison of this government. Don't be mistaken and I want to make this clear, Kiran ji specially for you. I'm not dismissing the idea of a coalition completely or entirely.

BJP believes in politics of consensus and despite having a clear majority in the Lok Sabha it has reached out to its allies and other parties and beat them together in the current dispensation that we have today in which we have the presence of Akali Dal, Shiv Sena and JDU and all in the union cabinet.

I am merely here to warn you about the motley crew of erstwhile warring factions ideologically opposed rivals coalescing solely for personal gain, which brings me back to the point -- India's growth story needs a leader like Narendra Modi whose leadership stands in stark contrast to three preceding decades when India was managed on one hand by the Prime Minister who was remote controlled constitutionally and coterie of unaccountable advisors.  

Modi’s vision for India has been best exemplified by the flagship programs aimed at mainstreaming the marginalized and have been instrumental in catapulting India to the next level.

He has been an original disruptor, an outsider challenging the power nexus of influence political masters of the game.

It is also not about India becoming a five trillion dollar economy in a few years. It is how about getting back into shape to the governance philosophy of enthusiasm in which the system enables and empowers the last citizen on the economic ladder. It is about giving dignity to our sisters who are providing sanitation, cooking gas and clean toilets. It is about invoking Mahatma Gandhi relevant national campaign for cleanliness and open defecation free India.

Modi Ji has indeed taken the bull by the horns. Modi ji defied the political expectations from a large constituency by not bringing in an ordinance on round temple on the contrary affirming the sole jurisdiction of the Supreme Court -- thereby confounding political pundits and opposition alike.  

Now contrast it with the so called left liberal secular progressive reactions of the Congress and its partners who showed complete apathy to triple talaq victims. Here was a brilliant opportunity in the opposition to come clean on a historic ground but Congress had entered to the compulsions of vote bank politics!  

And Modi ji went into the heart of Haryana state which was known for gender acute imbalance and that is leadership. A hardly patriarchal state and the adverse sex ratio which was 845 girls for 1000 boys and has come down to 924 in 2018.  

Our choice is between chaos and clarity, our choice is between the corrupt and the compromise on one hand and the clean and competent on the other. The index of opposition unity against Modi is a recipe for disaster. This I owe you-you owe me, I scratch your back- you scratch my back will go on. No, my friends, we don't want to become a nation of itchy back scratchers. We don't want the namby-pamby ineffective leadership of hollow men, we need a decisive strong leader, and a visionary to lead a great nation to greater heights. Jai Hind!  

BW TV: Watch Shazia Illmi's Speech at Great India Debate 


Mr. Arif M Khan, Former Cabinet Minister

I think one of the great lessons which we can learn from our past,  our great Indian philosophically ideological traditions is that things are never black and white. There are always many other shades in between.

  I said if you by Coalition mean political instability, Uncertainty, raised to grab the power for personal aggrandizement, then I'm all for this motion. But if you are talking about parties combining together, committing themselves to a common programme, working unitedly, then I do not see the point in choosing this topic because today in our country when we are only three four months away from the election, there is no to single party which is going to the country or taking this trend that we want a single-party government in India. There's no party. So we are debating the whole thing in vacuum.  There is NDA led by BJP and UPA led by Congress. So we have on both sides coalition.

But since I have made that point earlier that Indian tradition gives us this lesson, here I would like to give you two- One anecdote and one quotation. Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru in 1961, some of his old friend and an American who was working for the media, he said to Pandit ji ‘after working in media for 35 years now I realize that there are not only two sides to a story,  but we are many shades in between’ and the prompt response of Panditji was ‘welcome to Hindu view of life’. This was the response of Panditji.

From the end of the spectrum other side Guru Golwalkar. And his interview was published in the official organ of BJP. The question was asked that don't you think that uniformity because when we talk of quality without parties combining together when we are actually talking about uniformity. In India, we do not have this concept of time which is linear. We have  a cyclical concept.

So what Guru Golwalkarji said (when the) question was asked that don't you think that uniformity within the nation would promote National Unity.  He said not necessarily India has always made infinite variety. For Unity, we need harmony not uniformity.

Then the second question was asked in the West, the rise of nationalism. The Guruji said (that) don't forget that Europe is a very young continent with a very young civilization. It did not exist yesterday and it may not be there tomorrow.

My feeling is I would like to underline this this particular trend is. My feeling is that nature abhors excessive uniformity. It is very early to say what these Universe uniformities are going to.  This is the point that I'm making but we shouldn’t have tried to deride coalition. First of all, there is no political combination there is no political party who is going to be coercing. Secondly, Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore wrote an essay therein he said, problem in India is not political  (but the) problem in India is social. We are very different from West. Here problem is social. I wish when we are talking about the Europe, then we also talked about the economic disparities.

Because I think making it is the last person Mahatma. Gandhi said the only yardstick whether what you are doing is right or wrong, the only yardstick is that particular action is going to benefit the last name, then who are morally justified and it is if it is not going to benefit the last name, then we are not right.

So therefore my point is that India has this Genius of creating Harmony out of diversity unity in diversity. We should not be afraid of getting into coalitions. We should not deride the coalition. Butt at the same time coalition is coalition means instability if it means uncertainty then certainly that cannot be accepted.  

BW TV: Watch Arif Mohammad's Speech at Great India Debate 




Mr. Gurcharan Das, Author, Commentator, Thought Leader

  Frankly both coalitions and strong single-party governments can fail and the question is political culture of the country and the needs of the country which can decide this.  Now there are many things that coalition damages, that coalitions have done. Let me first say that, in March 2012, Mamta Banerjee killed one of the best Railway budgets presented in our country by Dinesh Trivedi of TMC got him sacked just because he raised the passenger rates to a very small extent in order to pay for the safety budget of the railways.  Second example of the bad thing that coalition can do is when Suresh Prabhu, one of our best power minister, produced the dream reform Electricity Act. He was similarly sacked because the supremo of Shiv Sena felt threatened by a man who was getting popular.  

Another example in the UPA 2, Manmohan Singh blamed coalition dharma for not moving against the ‘Raja’, it's been mentioned about in entry. But when we knew what Raja had done he said I was helpless. And, of course, Italy is the perfect example of what is wrong with the coalition government because the average life of Italian government is one year, over the last 70 years, and it's always a coalition government that braided it done.Now let me turn the other way, what damage that single-party government have done in our country. I have already sort of pre-empted myself, but number one- the emergency, what's one of the worst lowest point in army history. Second Demonetization, I happen to agree with those people who think that demonetization was a disaster. It will happen good consequences but not only did it do economic harm and not only am was I judging as an economist, but it ‘Adharmic’. The Raj Dharma says, Vidur says this, ‘the only imperative for a ruler is to help the people’ and the kind of pain that this (demonetization) brought to our country, despite all the benefits of membrane, I think that was wrong, so that was a mistake.Now take the popular government of Jawaharlal Nehru perhaps the whole of 50’s. 

The license permit, the inspector raj, which was created by the strong single-party government which was coined by Raja Ji, what happened at that time.  The point here is that neither coalition government nor single-party government can insure you the delivery of tasks, both can make mistakes. And certainly I think that we've had examples from both Congress mistakes and BJP mistakes. And of course the biggest mistake in this last five years, is that the government has not fulfilled his promise on top, but that's for another show.Let me just say where I stand because frankly the political culture, the political problem of India, is really not accountability. When you have an election happening every month practically you have plenty of accountability, the issue is of a stage that can act effectively.  

Now the liberal democratic state has three pillars, One - it should have an effective executive that can act quickly and get things done. Two - action should be under the rule of law and that action can be accountable for people. Lastly - What we lack today is state capacity, the ability to take that thing.  That's why the biggest problem of this country is not really economic reforms, it is governance reforms. And therefore this is what I had expected and I will expect from the next government and from every government. 

One, why should it take 15 years to get justice in the courts? Why should the bureaucrat who works one hour a day and passes time be rewarded and promoted as a bureaucrat with the same bureaucrat who works for 12 hours a day and is hugely effective? Why should the ordinary citizen be afraid of going to police station? Why should the police be the hand-maiden of the chief minister? Why should we have elections every month? So these are the governance issues of the country and I'm afraid of, no or none, the single-party government or coalition can make it better.  

BW TV: Watch Gurcharan Das's Speech at Great India Debate 


Mr. Sanjay Jha, National Spokesperson, Indian National Congress

  India is not a bipolar country. This is not between the BJP and the Congress, as unless going by hard data, Kiran Karnik rightly said. Look at your 2014 election results, the BJP gets 31 percent of the votes the congress party gets around 20 percent, together we get 50 percent of the people voting for the two biggest national parties together. We win 282 for BJP and 44 for the Congress, the two biggest parties, that you assume are going to be the majority governments that will provide you with stability and growth on their own when they aggregate together. They have only 50 percent of India's popular vote and to give you only 326 seats.  Now let's look at the 2009 results, The Congress Party gets 206 and the BJP gets a 116, together 322. Let's go down to 2004, the congress party gets 145 and the BJP gets 138. Together, the two big national parties are still a 283 seats. Now, let's go back to the most Black Swan extraordinary election, 1984. I'm doing a major rewind ladies and gentlemen, 1984 the Congress body, that I represent very proudly, wins 404 Lok Sabha seats but guess what percentage of people voted for the Congress Party - 49.2%.  So the first thing that we need to understand, well I think we disrespect, we disrespect our diversity. We actually expose our ignorance of the very country, we live in, when we say that majority rules. But let me tell you 51% of the people, even in 1984 when the congress party got 404 seats, did not vote for the congress party.  Between 1984 till now and I can go even backwards, 50% of India has voted for somebody else. I think it's about time we began to respect that. This room ladies and gentlemen is diverse, this panel is diverse but that is the beauty of this country.  

Sunil mentioned Khichdi and I can tell you if you have a choice between having Bhat and Khichdi, you make your choice. I remember when I was growing up, my mother used to give me Kichidi with a little bit of dal, ghee some pappads and pickles and believe me Khichdi becomes the most delicious delectable item you can consume and is good for health as well.

So let me tell you, let’s not deride this concept of coalition. Fortunately, we have some people on the panel who have taken an extremely mature view of it. But let's ask this question of each one of us, growth, and I think it's correct Sunil need is right - ‘you need to bite the bullet’.

Let's look at the five years of Mr Modi's government and 10 years of the UPA. 10 years of UPA give you a growth rate of 8.35% over the entire period and that period included the world's worst recession of the 1931. Oil prices touching at $140 a barrel and the coalition given to you.

Look at the growth during Mr Modi's government, 7.3 percent. Oil prices touching $29 dollars a barrel and yet it did not happen. What did they give you - demonetization, anger, a flawed GST, inequality, 1% of India owns 60% of its wealth and above all they give you hate and violence. We don't live in an economy, not alone. Before we live in an economy, we live in a society and I think what we need to embrace is this. And I give you the one example that will probably defeat that other side, the Lok Pal Bill. Our government had street protests, we battled it out ultimately the bill was passed in Parliament. And after a struggle, the Lok Pal Bill was passed in 2013.

5 years and Mr Narendra Modi could not do the easy job of appointing a ‘Lok Pal’. Can you see the difference between a coalition and the majority, the big difference between the two, both the formations can work, the critical thing is your intent.

I was with a friend of mine who's a stockbroker in Mumbai and he told me you know what in the markets we say the BJP is good for the markets and the Congress is good for the country. So I asked him do you vote for the country or do you want for the markets. And he said well, you know, so I told him hang on. Let me give you a fact, during the time of UPA1, the UPA 1 gave you a stock market growth of 74%, I’m talking about the Sensex. UPA2 gave you a stock market growth of 131%, the NDA has given you 62%. Therefore I want to end by telling you that it's not about the formation, it’s the intent.

BW TV: Watch Sanjay Jha's Speech at Great India Debate 


Mr. Kiran Karnik, Former President, NASSCOM

This is the age of science & technology. It is good to be informed based on evidence-based facts and also data. Many of you who look at science, let me take example of genetics and biology.

If you go to a forest and plant expert will tell you that monoculture is dying. A sociologist will tell you larger society is not just successful but happier. Economist will tell you that many of the broad economic parameters are subject to ups and downs, and it went good when coalition politics was on, even if you don’t look at the GDP.  

Poverty reduction or health patterns like maternal mortality have got down, in the coalition years that we have had.   I think this is a strong example of what happens during coalition v/s strong single party government. I think these are the pieces we get from hardcore and humanitarian sciences. Most of them came out in many debates and most of them find it successful.

Looking down at the society, you will find most diverse societies as most creative ones. It is diversity input that helps creativity you can find whereever you will go. For example Silicon Valley that is a perfect example of diverse society people starting from south of America to northern parts, Japanese, Koreans, Indians and Chinese. It’s not only technology but also the creativity that flourishes there. I think the lesson is a diversified India.

Governance should also act with same kind of ethics. If you see a rose garden it makes you find different kind of roses even in the bouquet it makes sense. The same is with the rainbow. Then we talk about government and politics, it’s not true that coalition government were not strong. It is not true as well that they ended in short durations. You have Narasimha Rao’s govt. running full five years, even Vajpayee Ji spent full five years as NDA PM.

So the argument that strong government is single party may be true but it may not be true always. Then there is massive diversity and every aspect of society that makes it look good from art and culture to politics to science. Why not politics with diversity and I think in country like India? If I will go back to where I started with, a pure metal is not good as an alloy. I think there are lessons for us to learn from all this.

BW TV: Watch Kiran Karnik's Speech at Great India Debate 

 Ms. Priyanka Chaturvedi, National Spokesperson, Indian National Congress  

As it is clearly mentioned that I am against the motion and I have reasons to do so. Swapan (Dasgupta) was very nicely being nostalgic about the golden era.    

And I am sure 65% of the population that we have today remembers India post-liberalisation and that post-liberalisation was also a decision that was taken by a coalition government.  

Let’s not forget the nuclear test that we had at Pokhran, though it was by Bharatiya Janta Party, was also a coalition government. Let’s not forget the nuclear deal that India got for itself was also because of the intent of a coalition government. Why should we forget single party majority governance has got us something as catastrophic as a Demonetization, as catastrophic as 260% rise in terrorism attacks in this nation? While we grew at 8.9% in an era of coalition government, we have a single party majority growing at 7.2%. We have a single largest party with a majority, under the leadership of Narendra Modi, which has brought unemployment that hasn’t been seen in the past 45 years. When we talk about external debts, we left at Rs 37.44 lakh crore and it is Rs 43.72 lakh crore where we stand today.  

Apparently only economic statistics matter in this country, the happiness index of this country doesn’t matter, the unity in diversity of this country doesn’t matter, the voices of the nation do not matter. What matters are statistics! And he listens and he listens hard as to how this economy has suffered.  

The farm growth, I am sure you have an interest in it! But the farm growth story has also come to a standstill. From a 3.8% growth that we were tracking to a 1.9% growth trajectory that we are seeing under Mr Modi’s watch. Exports have declined, man was talking about the gas cylinders, very impressive gas cylinders. We left at Rs 279 per cylinder per month, they brought it to Rs 479 per cylinder per month. And this is the subsidised cylinder, we remind you the people who have given up subsidy will not talk about it.

Let’s talk about jobs! Jobs that we created during our government was 28.01 lakh, what they are creating 8.08 lakh. And I think I am being very optimistic about it. What you definitely forget to mention is the 10 years of governance that a coalition government has given, a decisive government and I also have brought out the statistics. What you seem to forget is that an evolving democracy, every single state asserting itself, asserting its face in the centre, wants to have a voice, every single Indian in an evolving democracy wants to have a voice. We cannot be dismissive about the voices of the people and their aspirations.

How can we be ignorant that democracy is about participation and we should accept various contours of political affiliations and political associations? Today Jammu and Kashmir is facing the worst-ever crisis because it saw an alliance of opportunism. It was not an alliance of growth story, it was not an alliance of development and they are suffering the consequences of it. So coalition is not about one particular individual wanting to decide the fate of this nation like demonetisation. A coalition is about voices, respecting those voices, adhering to those voices and building a consensus will lead towards nation building. The country has moved from an era of one person deciding what is good for the entire nation versus an era of various voices. Let me give you one simple example, I remember the time when I got married, my in-laws asked me to take “one muthhi khichdi”. People keep demeaning the entire khichdi system because of the politics of khichdi. But my mother-in-law told me that when you come into a family you take every voice along, every person along and that is how you can have a happy, successful, co-existence and a happy beneficial win-win situation in a family. This is what alliances are about, alliances are about praising all the voices across the nation to build a nation. Coalition is about various colours and voices. Thank You!

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Mr. Raghav Chadha, Member, Political Affairs Comitte, Aam Aadmi Party

Problem of speaking last against the motion is that all the 4 former speakers who were speaking against the motion have made all the points. There isn’t much to say as far as position against the motion is concerned. Therefore, briefly I will articulate what my position is. Well, I come from the Aam Aadmi Party, we had one minority government with outside support from Congress which lasted for 45 days. We are now running a majority government which received perhaps the highest mandate in India’s electoral history. We have some experience of running a minority government, we have experience of running a majority government but we have no experience in running a coalition government. But with the benefit of history and study, I am of the firm view that both the governments whether it’s a coalition form of a government or single party government, I vote for India’s growth story. As long as you have a coalition oriented leadership, what required is the leadership! It doesn’t matter what the formation of the government is. And therefore, I join Mr. Das and the other speakers who are saying that the podium should have been in centre for us because my position is that of a centrist.  

First, of course, the history of coalition politics in India is not something that we take into existence post 1977 or 1989, even in the pre-independence days during 1946, there was an interim government which had leaders from the Muslim League, Congress and Akali Dal. It’s not a concept that came into existence the post-emergency. But the first coalition government at the national level, in post-independence India, was the 1977 government of course. After that we had various coalition governments and from 1989 to 2009, there were 7 consecutive Lok Sabha elections and in all the 7 elections there wasn’t a single political party that got a mandate and they all were coalition governments. And it would be wrong and improper to say that more growth happened from 1989 to 2009. I believe that a performance of a government need to be determined and assessed from various standpoints, like standpoints of internal security, communal harmony, growth in the economy etc.

But speaking from an economic perspective, India had one of the best economic years, as far economic growth is concerned from 1991 to 2014, during these we had various global letdowns, various crisis, yet we had a small war with Pakistan, even then the Indian economy performed very well and now when we have a full majority government, post-2014, the economy hasn’t performed that well, despite the global economy performing very well. Therefore, I feel, it’s about the leadership and not about the formation of the government. Also, in the Westminster System when you have a single party, when you have voting under a whip and when you have a strong Prime Minister, it often turns into a constitutional dictatorship. I personally believe that there is no reason why a government of coalition cannot take the same steps, cannot take actions or decisions as that of a single party majority. In fact, I believe if the Modi Government was a true coalition government, with BJP not being close to 272 mark, disastrous step like Demonetization would not have happened. I believe that coalition system of government is more participatory in nature, is more responsive towards regional concerns and it gives you more legroom for social, economic and political work. Coalition politics doesn’t necessarily mean instability or paralysis. Therefore, I rest my case by saying that what we really need is coalition oriented leadership, it really doesn’t matter what the formation of this government is.         

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