Three weeks after the defeat in five states and barely four months ahead of general elections Prime Minister Narendra Modi has tried to counter the opposition through a 95-minute long interview. Speaking to
ANI he has addressed the opposition's charge on almost every issue from the economy, to farmers to national security and the 2019 elections.
Modi described Congress' farm loan waivers as a political stunt and a misleading announcement. He said demonetisation was not a Jhatka as people had been warned well in advance.
Modi also played down Urjit Patel's resignation as Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) governor, says there is no question of political pressure and he did a good job as central bank chief.
CNBC-TV18 caught up with Rajeev Rai, spokesperson, Samajwadi Party; Sanjay Jha, spokesperson, Congress; Tuhin Sinha, spokesperson, BJP and Manisha Priyam, political analyst, to analyse the interview.
Rajeev Rai said, "Demonetisation was a political stunt, Narendra Modi doesn't know the ABCD of economy. He took a political decision just to make an image and it has backfired now. Initially, people did not understand but now the whole country knows what is the impact of such a big blunder."
Sanjay Jha said, "This is political hubris. In public life leaders make mistakes but they need to demonstrate humility. It is not just about Arvind Subramanian or Raghuram Rajan who are established global economists if you ask me the entire cabinet put together won't know one-hundredth of the economy that these gentlemen do. However the Prime Minister's insistence that demonetisation was not a brutal shock that destroyed the farming community, disrupted informal economy and probably has been politically catastrophic for the BJP, as they say, if you are genuinely sleeping, somebody can wake you up, but if you pretend to sleep or if you want to live in a fool's paradise, that is your fundamental right."
For Narendra Modi demonetisation was never an economic policy decision, it was purely a political stunt to give him the image that he was being an anti-corruption crusader, Jha said.
Tuhin Sinha said, "The Prime Minister's conviction has shown in the results which we see in the number of taxpayers that we had prior to demonetisation and the number of taxpayers we have now, from 3.8 crore taxpayer base in 2014-2015 to a 7 crore taxpayer base, I think that was a very important catalyst towards the formalisation of the economy."Manisha Priyam said, "GST is something about which people talk vociferously because the impact is in the urban and semi-urban areas. On demonetisation, people do not understand the links by which the economy may have been destroyed and the ill-effects can be seen in various sort of ways. The Prime Minister himself, however, stayed clearly on the political turf, batting where he is the best, he is still looking at demonetisation as that political event about black money.