Election 2019

‘Rahul Gandhi isn’t serious about Nyay’: Thaawar Chand Gehlot

Union minister Thaawar Chand Gehlot spoke to Amandeep Shukla about a range of issues, including reservation for economically weaker sections (EWS), the Modi government’s record, the Congress’s minimum income guarantee scheme, the Balakot air strike, the candidature of Pragya Thakur, and Kashmir. Edited excerpts:

Q. The 2019 general elections are underway. Why should people be voting for your party?

A. Development, public welfare schemes, the work is done to strengthen unity, integrity, and democracy in the country in the past five years.

Q. Your ministry brought the 10% quota for economically weaker sections (EWS). Critics say this was done with an eye on elections.

A. They may be saying this out of ignorance, or intentionally despite knowing the truth. This was done to help the poorer sections. The demand was there for a long time. Even the Mandal Commission made a mention of this. [Former Prime Minister] Narasimha Rao made an attempt but was unsuccessful. It was Narendra Modi who made this impossible possible. Orders have been issued to implement this by DoPT [Department of Personnel and Training], my department, and also others.

Q. But does this not breach the 50% limit for reservation?

A. We have added a clause 6 to article 15 and article 16 of the Indian Constitution through an amendment, so the 50 % limit would not apply to it. Even the 50% limit was for a reservation for the categories already getting a reservation. Earlier, this kind of order during the Narasimha Rao government was canceled because there were no such provisions in the Constitution. We have made the required changes and without touching the reservation quota for the Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and OBC [other backward classes] sections. So this will continue.

Q. Your government claims to done a lot on the social welfare front. You even announced the PM KISAN scheme for farmers. However, the Congress has announced a minimum income guarantee scheme. Is the Congress not taking it one step ahead?

A. People will not pay any attention to Congress’s claims. They have been talking of the “garibi hatao” [remove poverty] promise since 1971. The poor, however, kept suffering. This promise will prove to be similar. Even if we look at the details, it is a flop. They [the Congress] have said if the income is less than R12,000 some support will be given. Suppose you go by minimum wage estimates that a person is earning R300 daily and there are two working members in the family, the income comes to more than R12,000. So what will they give?

There may be those whose income is less, say R7,000 or 8,000. They will mislead them by gathering identification and proof papers as it happened in Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka or Punjab on the loan waiver announcement. They announced loan waivers but nothing happened. They are saying – ‘Ab Nyay Hoga’ [now there will be justice]. For 60 years, there were Congress or Congress-supported governments, they did not do justice. These are promises made merely to acquire power and the people have sensed this.

Q. Congress president Rahul Gandhi has emphasised the NYAY scheme will be the final assault on poverty?

A. Mamata Banerjee says he is an innocent child. What he says is childish. He is not serious about these programmes. Somebody has suggested to him that make such a promise to win the elections. So he may have done it.

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