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It’s tried, tested and failed: Arun Jaitley on grand alliances in India


New Delhi, Oct 6: Union Minister Arun Jaitley Saturday termed 'mahagathbandhans' in India as tried, tested and failed ideas, saying if such an alliance is formed again then 2019 will be a contest between a stable government led by a strong leader and an "anarchic combination."

Expressing confidence about the BJP's win in 2019 Lok Sabha polls, he said this is not a time for India to test an anarchic kind of combination when it is on the growth path.

Arun Jaitley

Giving historical accounts of 'mahagathbandhan' (grand alliance) in India, Jaitley said, "You tried it under Chandra Shekhar, it was partly tried under VP Singh, it was tried under Charan Singh and it was tried under IK Gujaral and Devi Gowda. It's an experiment where policy gets killed and the longevity of the government is a few months."

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"So, these (mahagathbandhans) are tried, tested and failed ideas much that they sound very fancy. In order to have a big alliance, you must have a large nucleus and smaller groups aligned around them. You cannot have a nucleolus of a handful of people and you cannot have an alliance of political parties whose interests are regional," the finance minister said at the HT Leadership Summit here.

Jaitley's comments have come in the run-up to the upcoming assembly polls in some major states and also the Lok Sabha elections. These remarks assume significance amidst talk of formation of a grand alliance of opposition parties to defeat the BJP in 2019.

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He further said "you cannot have an alliance with parties whose leaders are maverick or they want to be in alliance to have criminal cases to be closed. If you get together this kind of a crowd then 2019 will be a choice between a stable government with a strong leader versus a completely anarchic combination".

Observing that history had provided India with a great opportunity, he said, India has been growing fast consistently despite the global slowdown and other factors.

"So, therefore, this is when we need coherence, governance and policy. This is not a time where you can go in for an anarchic kind of combination. I think aspirational societies never commit suicide. So, I am very clear what will happen in 2019," he said.

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Dismissing Congress President Rahul Gandhi's allegation that the Narendra Modi- led government is responsible for mounting bad loans in the banking sector, Jaitley said, "I think some people need to grow up and understand these issues. Debate on these issues has to be a grown-up debate."

The total amount of debt given till 2007-08 was about Rs 18 lakh crore by public sector banks in the country and when the global slowdown began this Rs 18 lakh crore went up to Rs 55 lakh crore in 2014, he said.

Year after year, he said, the previous UPA government was asking banks to grow their lending by 31 per cent.

"So the undeserving and unstable projects were all been funded. That's when the bank loot started. So the Congress president must realise that this was the genesis of the problem," he said.

The second crime that they committed was instead of accepting the problem of additional capacity, banks were asked to roll over the debt when the borrower started defaulting, he said.

Citing an example of Vijay Mallya without taking his name, Jaitley said: "in one of the most controversial cases where person has escaped to the UK, it was the RBI which wrote to the SBI to please give him (Mallya) a second restructuring".

So you have managed the system to such an extent that the RBI telling State Bank of India that someone should be given a second restructuring, he added.


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