From a tea-seller to an events manager: Aiyar's assessment of PM Modi changes

New Delhi, June 8: Congress MP Mani Shankar Aiyar sees Narendra Modi more as an EM, or events manager, than a PM and says the best thing about the one year of his government is that "there are only four years left" and the countdown to the end of his 'achhe din' has begun. [Modi can sell tea here, Aiyar said at AICC meeting]

"Since the NDA government assumed power, there has been dissatisfaction among people, particularly farmers," he said.


He claimed that every indicator of economic growth is either staggering or falling.

"The only aspect of the Indian economy that has risen is the Sensex.

"Every indicator is either staggering or falling except where international conditions have been exceptionally helpful like declining trend in oil prices and revival in the global economy," Aiyar, whose stint in the Rajya Sabha will end next year, told PTI.

Aiyar's new book, Achhe Din? Ha! Ha!!, a collection of his articles on various topics, including the government's performance and the Congress, will be released this week by Palimpsest.

In the foreword, he writes, "I believe his (Modi's) penchant for self-praise and self-publicity will redound on him.

"People will start asking whether this is a PM or an EM - an events manager.

"As action trails far behind rhetoric, his credibility has already started its downward spiral.

"The momentum will get accelerated as the gap widens between his flair for clever lines and his inability to match words with delivery."

Aiyar, however, accepts that he "went hopelessly wrong in thinking he (Modi) could not possibly win.

"He did get the mandate to run the country.

"But as I have watched him from the sidelines, I persist with the view that he has not risen to the occasion and that the country would be well-advised to turn him down at the next opportunity."

He also sees the prospects of a newly-minted Congress only improving.

"We are now consolidating ourselves before we start preparing for the 2019 elections.

"The best thing about the Modi government is that there are only four years left.

"We will start positioning ourselves in 2017 to take on Modi," the former Union Panchayati Raj minister said.

On Rahul Gandhi's sabbatical, he said it was argued that it was eccentric, at best, and thoroughly irresponsible, at worst, for the Congress vice president to vanish just as the Land Acquisition Ordinance was capturing national attention but it was "not as unusual as is being made out".

"The confidence with which Rahul spoke at the April 19 kisan rally, and the attentiveness with which he was heard, demonstrated that his absence notwithstanding, the Congress, under the leadership of his mother, had built up the momentum for Rahul's homecoming to be a memorable occasion," he wrote.

Aiyar terms as the "worst of a coalition of opposites" the BJP-PDP government in Jammu and Kashmir where the partners are "indulging in what can only be described as competitive communalism".

He is not too optimistic of another Rajya Sabha term, going by the numbers the Congress has.

"But, I will continue to make myself available to the party.

"I also have a number of writing assignments.

"I am doing a major book on panchayati raj and also an updated version of my book on Rajiv Gandhi on the occasion of his 25th death anniversary which falls next year.

"Besides I have been asked by a major publisher to pen my autobiography.

"I have a tentative title in my mind - Leaf in the Wind: The autobiography of an unsuccessful politician," he said.


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