Modi is the last word in government: Jaitley

Modi is the last word in government: Jaitley

Modi is the last word in government: Jaitley

Rejecting criticism that he has concentrated all powers in his hands, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said Narendra Modi is a hands-on Prime Minister who listens to everybody but his word is final.

He contrasted this with the 10 years of UPA regime when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had "no actual powers".

"In a democracy, the Prime Minister always has the last word. I can't deny that Narendra Modi is a strong leader but he is a hands-on Prime Minister who listens to everybody.

"As is expected in a democracy, his word is final. And there is nothing wrong in that. Even in Vajpayee government, everybody was consulted but the PM had the last word," Jaitley told Rajat Sharma on Aap ki Adalat programme on India TV.

When asked to comment on a description by The Economist magazine that Modi is a "one-man band", he said he cannot be compared to Singh who was "portrayed as PM in office but not in power" by the same publication, according to a release issued by the channel.

"For 10 years, we had a Prime Minister who had no actual powers. I have been an admirer of Manmohan Singh for his personal competence but the Congress never gave him a free hand. Had the Congress allowed him to work according to his competence, the history of India would have been difference," Jaitley said.

Stressing the importance of a Prime Minister wielding a real authority, he said, "the nation can't be run under an arrangement where PM has the designation but lacks actual powers. Prime Minister Modi is a very hardworking leader who also accepts his colleagues to be equally hardworking."

Rejecting Rahul Gandhi's charge of Modi government being a "suit-boot ki sarkar", the Finance Minister said it is actually "soojh-booj ki sarkar" (government that thinks intelligently).

"You come up with such arguments when you have no substance in your utterances. In the last one year, it has been proved that this is a "soojh-booj ki sarkar," he said.

Asked to respond to Rahul Gandhi's accusations that NDA government was trying to snatch farmers' land and hand it over to big corporates, Jaitley said the Congress vice president has not read either his own party's Land Acquisition Act of 2013 not the new Bill.

He said 35 per cent of the population of India lived in urban areas while the rest were in rural areas and there was a need for land for urbanisation, highways, irrigation projects and rural infrastructure.

"His (UPA) Act would have stopped the development of rural areas of the country. Even his own chief ministers like B S Hooda of Haryana and Prithviraj Chavan of Maharashtra opposed the Act saying it will bring development of the country to a halt," he said.

Jaitley said the UPA had exempted 13 areas in their Act and the NDA government added five more to that list which includes land for national security projects and nuclear establishment, rural infrastructure and affordable housing for poor.
"Tell me, was it to benefit corporates," he asked.

Rejecting the charge of crony capitalism against the government, the Finance Minister said it was the Congress which indulged in corruption to favour business houses.

To a question on the opposition charge that Modi insulted them on foreign soil, Jaitley said it was meaningless in this era of technology revolution as criticism made within the country gets spread all across the world.

"By that yardstick, we should not criticise even on internet as it gets spread outside India. Even criticism made within Parliament reaches every part of the world through satellite," he said.

Defending the alliance with PDP in Jammu and Kashmir, Jaitley said options for government formation were limited and a vacuum would have given a handle to separatists in the state.

"Despite differences with PDP, we drafted a common minimum programme. This is because the fight in Kashmir is not between NDA and UPA. Its between India and separatist. We tried to ensure that a big part of population comes with us instead of going with separatists," he said.

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