‘The strength of this government is not its performance, but its ability to manipulate the political class’
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In this Idea Exchange moderated by Vandita Mishra, Opinion Editor, senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley speaks about the 2014 elections, coalition politics and why the Third Front is a "failed idea"
Vandita Mishra: How do you view the UPA's recent Cabinet reshuffle and Mr Chidambaram's return to the finance ministry?
Arun Jaitley: The Cabinet reshuffle suggests that to a large extent, the ruling combination and the Congress party, in particular, suffer from a talent deficit. They have a limited resource amongst the elders to choose from. Even if you leave Mr Chidambaram out, I don't think the senior ministries are manned by the best talent.
Mr Moily was shifted out of the law ministry to what I can term, a lesser portfolio. And today, you suddenly find that you have nobody else to handle something as sensitive as power. After what happened (breakdown of the grid), Mr Shinde should have been sent home. Instead, he's been given the home portfolio. With all the questions that have been raised and certainly some unanswered questions, it would have been better if somebody else had gone to the finance ministry. There is a second problem: from amongst the younger lot in the party, you have talent that you could develop for the future and some people could have been given a push up. But the road for the youngsters is blocked till the fate of the gentleman who's blocking the road is decided.
Maneesh Chhibber: Will you continue to oppose Mr Chidambaram in Parliament as you did in the last two sessions?
Arun Jaitley: We don't have a problem with a person. We have some issues. One of the issues is related to the 2G decision-making process. Then, you have an incomplete discussion in Parliament related to Aircel-Maxis. In the last session, the House felt that he was not the most appropriate person to answer some questions that I had raised and therefore, the then finance minister had to answer them. For almost a week-and-a-half, they delayed the debate. On the last day, I asked if the debate was incomplete or if it had lapsed with the House. The Chair said it was incomplete and it would be concluded in the next session. Now that Mr Chidambaram is back in the job, we'll have to see who answers.
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