Ahmedabad: Ahead of the upcoming Gujarat Assembly election, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Tuesday claimed the state was being governed from Delhi and that’s the reason the state saw three chief ministers in the last six years. The claim of a double-engine government is an empty boast, he said.
Mr. Chidambaram, who was in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad city to campaign for his party, also hit out at the ruling BJP over its arrogance, saying nobody so far has apologized or resigned for the Morbi bridge collapse tragedy which took 135 lives.
The Gujarat Assembly election will be held in two phases on December 1 and 5 and the result will be declared on December 8.
Addressing a press conference, Mr. Chidambaram claimed, “Gujarat is being governed from Delhi, not Ahmedabad” and that is the reason why the state has seen three chief ministers in the last six years. “The boast of a double-engine government is an empty boast. Gujarat is a single-bullock cart that is trudging on a mud path leaving behind vast sections of people, especially the Scheduled Tribes, women, the youth, and the poor,” he further claimed.
On October 30, a suspension bridge on the Machchuu river in Gujarat’s Morbi district collapsed, claiming 135 lives.
“As per my knowledge, nobody has apologized or resigned for such a big tragedy. If such a thing would have happened in a foreign country, there would have been immediate resignations. There is a complete lack of accountability for the Morbi tragedy,” Mr. Chidambaram said.
“They have not apologized as the government here thinks they will easily win the coming elections and they need not be accountable for the incident. The BJP government and its leaders feel that they are not answerable or accountable because the BJP is sitting on the summit of arrogance,” he said. He urged the people of Gujarat to change the BJP government and allow Congress this time.
“In all mature parliamentary democracies, people change governments from time to time. Every few years or terms you must change the government,” the Congress veteran said. Why are social indicators, such as health and education, high in states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu? Because governments are changed once every five years or ten years, he added.
“My appeal to the people of Gujarat is to change your government. Assert your democratic right. Establish the principle of parliamentary democracy. Governments must be changed from time to time. This time, vote for the Congress party. Because you know our track record. We can do better and we will do better than the BJP,” Mr. Chidambaram said.
When asked if he thinks central probe agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) were being misused, Mr. Chidambaram answered they are handmaidens of the BJP. “Ninety-five per cent of all cases and arrests made by the ED and CBI are of opposition leaders. Anyone who joins the BJP, all cases against them are closed and their alleged sins are washed away,” he further added.
On the issue of BJP-governed states announcing the formation of committees to implement the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), the Congress leader said, “Even a child knows that states cannot implement it, it can be done by Parliament.
When he was asked about his views on the Indian economy’s future, the former Union finance minister said though India will not go into recession like European countries or the US, the growth will slow down.
“The growth will be nowhere near the rosy picture being painted by the finance minister and the chief economic advisor. The growth will slow down for several reasons – one, the investment will slow down. Two, exports will slow down. Three, inflation and depreciation of the rupee will eat into people’s income, therefore consumption will slow down,” he said.