Veteran Congress Party leader and ex-national spokesperson Sanjay Jha has come up with a new book-The Great Unravelling: India after 2014. To talk about the book and matters related to the grand old party, journalist Anurag Sason has an in-depth conversation with the author.
Here are some excerpts from the exclusive interview: (Scroll down to watch the complete interview)
Q1) What is this book all about?
Sanjay Jha: This book is about India’s political history since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government came to power in 2014. Clearly, there have been many changes in India. Some positive and I will not deny it. However, overall, the Indian economy has not done well.
In India, there has been rising communal tension. Foreign policy is weak. Governance is fairly substandard. Institutions that are very important to sustain democracy are floundered. People are worried that India will remain a liberal society or will it become more autocratic.
My book is not an attack on BJP by a disgruntled Congressman. I have also questioned my party. The reason BJP is succeeding today because Congress has become very weak. I have put it all in a very candid, frank fashion. Now it’s for the reader to decide whether the book has covered all the points or it could have been better.
Q2) What compelled you to write this book?
Sanjay Jha: I love to write. I write columns. I always believe that if you put down something in writing, it is taken more seriously. It took me six months to write this book.
Q3) What is your favourite part of the book?
Sanjay Jha: My favourite part is the introduction, the prologue. What I have written there is from my experience. The beginning of the book sets the base for the entire book. The entire book is written as a story and I hope you guys will like it.
Q4) Presently, one of the oldest political parties in India-the Congress Party is in a very fragile state. What/who is responsible for that?
Sanjay Jha: Yes, Congress is facing an existential crisis. There are many reasons for that. The party is lazy, laid-back and arrogant. The party is living in a fool’s paradise and it has to wake up and smell the coffee. There is no other choice.
Q5) Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi are the two most talked-about politicians in India. How do you see these two gentlemen?
Sanjay Jha: They are contrasting leaders in many ways. There is one big difference-Mr Modi is a relentless traveller, communicator and he loves power. He has a hunger for power. And politics is about power. I think that is the big difference between the two of them.
I think Rahul Gandhi probably waits for things to happen and PM Modi makes things happen. That is a significant difference. Mr Modi takes big decisions. We just respond to the BJP. We’re reactors. We don’t set agenda at all.
And I do believe that Mr Modi today is able to sense the pulse of the people. And Rahul Gandhi is still not able to make that kind of a direct relationship with the people or voters. The Prime Minister is making himself accessible to the people of India. Rahul is not doing enough.
I mean one of the mistakes Rahul is doing is not engaging with media. These videos and tweets will take you to certain pockets of the audience. They don’t take you to the length and breadth of the country.
Q6) I took an interview of Congress leader Manishankar Aiyar. During the interview, he said that he waited for two months to meet Rahul Gandhi. Is Rahul Gandhi inaccessible even to the veteran Congress Party leaders?
Sanjay Jha: Why will Manishankar Aiyar lie? He has worked with late Prime Minister Mr Rajiv Gandhi. He must have looked at Mr Gandhi as his son. So why will he lie? I think that is the tragedy of the Congress Party. Rahul is surrounded by a strange bunch of people…self-serving people who basically are keeping card about who meet him (Rahul Gandhi) and who doesn’t. And they have become a power centre. They are only looking at their self-interest. They don’t care for Rahul Gandhi. They don’t care about the party. But it is Rahul Gandhi who is getting bad publicity so I hope he does something about it.
Q7) What is the one big change the Congress Party should introduce?
Sanjay Jha: There should be fair and transparent contests for the responsible posts within the party. It should result in an organisation where even the junior-most person can reach the top. The meritocratic transparent election will strengthen the party at the grassroot level.
This is a party with a lot of wonderful talent but people don’t get a chance to express their ability. It doesn’t allow the best people to reach the top.
Q8) Whom you want to see Congress Party president?
Sanjay Jha: When Rahul Gandhi resigned as the Congress Party president he himself said he wants someone not from the Nehru-Gandhi family to be the party’s president. And I agree on this with Mr Gandhi.
Q9) What do you think is most important right now-Construction of a new temple, mosque, or employment for the youth and strengthening of the GDP?
Sanjay Jha: Before all these things there is something else which is more important and that is strengthening of the society. Unity in diversity is India’s strength and we must maintain that. And the Modi government isn’t doing as well as it can.
Q10) Your take on farmers’ protest again the New Farm Laws?
Sanjay Jha: The New Farm Laws are good for the economy. It will be good in the long run for the farmers. The reason why this protest loomed out of proportion is the arrogance of the Modi government.
About the author: Anurag Sason is journalist with more than 7 years of experience in mainstream journalism. He has worked in newspaper, news agency, TV and digital media. Presently, he is working as Senior Editor-News in Likee app. He tweets at @AnuragSason
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Disclaimer: Interview is taken in personal capacity