The new Government has a different style of functioning. There are not many announcements and not many statements from the Ministers, leave alone the Prime Minister. As such it is difficult to judge what is the Government’s thinking, and what is really going on? However, the Government’s business continues as usual on a day-to-day basis, which really does not affect the common man’s psychology. Inflation has not shown any sign of coming down, except during the monsoon there is a natural reduction in the prices of vegetables etc., which we are seeing. The Prime Minister is going to Japan for a four-five days visit with a big delegation, amongst them corporate people as well. Japan has been a good trading partner for India, and they are keen to invest big money in India. The Prime Minister also has good affinities with Japan. How far he will allow them to invest the way they want to is a matter to be seen. For instance, Japan had once evinced interest that they are prepared to finance at a cost of $4-5 billion the entire Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor, which is a scheme under progress, provided they are allowed to have Japanese companies issue the contracts throughout the routes. It was not acceptable to the Indian Government. Is there a change of policy now, we don’t know. What will happen in Tokyo we don’t know. The moot question is that investment is waiting to come into India, but on what conditions and what costs? That is what should be calculated. We should have a clever economist as an advisor to the Prime Minister, who can advise him on what kind of investment, what kind of aid, as they call it, is helpful to the country and what is not. There is no use getting foreign money looking like investment without any interest costs. But the later repatriation of dividend is so high that it would be cheaper to take the money on interest. That is a calculation only a very intelligent economist can do. I do not know who the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisor at the moment is, but he should be one person on the trip to Japan to guide him correctly.
On the other hand the Opposition seems to have given up the fight even before it is has begun. One cannot understand what the Congress party is doing. It is a fact that Sonia Gandhi has a total grip on the party that no Congress President had before. She has been President for 15 years, which is much more than what Indira Gandhi was or what Jawaharlal Nehru was. Now the party is under her firm grip, that goes without saying. It is commendable the way she has run the party, being not familiar with Indian working conditions before she took over – before she got married to Rajiv Gandhi. But having lost the elections, to set up a committee under Antony and put the blame on somebody else’s door is not good leadership. When Mrs. Gandhi lost the elections in 1977 she did not blame anybody. She went around the country, apologising to people for the Emergency and promising that emergency will never happen again. The result was that she was re-elected in 1980. What Sonia Gandhi must do is to go around the country apologising for the scams that took place and to promise that the people guilty will be punished and also promise that the next time we are in power such things will not happen. We will take adequate steps to see that public money is safeguarded. That is the only way she can regain the confidence of the people. By saying Manmohan Singh’s inefficiency or some state leaders fighting among themselves or grass-root workers not putting in their best into the campaign is the reason for defeat is to run away from the problem. If the Congress party is still serious and I hope it is, it should put its house in order. The country needs two parties. There should be strong Opposition for the Government to function properly. But if the Congress’s whole attitude is to protect Sonia Gandhi’s persona and put the blame on everybody else, then they have not understood the problem and certainly it is not helping the party. The earlier they understand the writing on the wall, the better it will be for the Congress and for the country.