On Thursday, 22nd December, 2022, the national capital hosted the country’s largest political conclave, the India News Manch, at the Taj Palace, which was organized by the ITV Network. The event was kicked-off by Aishwarya Pandit, Trustee, ITV Foundation, and witnessed the presence of India’s some of the biggest political leaders, belonging in all different political parties, showcasing their ideologies, style of governance, beliefs and values, and talking about the political, economic, and social facets of the country.
The first speaker for the day was the Union Minister of Sports, Youth Affairs, and Information & Broadcasting, Anurag Thakur. Talking about the newly-earned G20 Presidency of India, he said that it is a landmark moment and must be celebrated. Touching upon the crucial yet sensitive topic of terrorism, Thakur stated that because India has adopted the ‘track, trace, and target’ approach to combat terror, this has rattled Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, who is facing the backlash for his anti-Modi comments.
Next in line was the Chief Minister of Punjab, Bhagwant Mann, and talking about the situation in his state, claimed that the law & order situation in the state is smooth, and that the social unity and bonding among the people of Punjab is of utmost importance in maintaining peace in the state. Mann then focused on the controversial topic of the killing of Punjabi singer, Siddhu Moosewala, and calling the late artist as his ‘younger brother’, said that while all the shooters involved in the killing have been caught, the masterminds are soon to be nabbed as they are very close to the same.
Talking about how at any point in time, the news of action taking place against Goldy Brar can emerge, Mann said, “Keep your cameras ready”.
Following this, the CM of Punjab, taking a dig at the AAP’s political opposition, remarked that prior to the Bharat Jodi Yatra, the Congress should indeed focus on the ‘Congress Jodo’ Yatra; and that the Congress cannot ‘change’ the country but is rather an ‘exchange’ in the country, as whenever other parties require MLAs to form a government, Congress MLAs jump the ship. Commenting on the BJP rule, Mann said that it is concerning to see where the country’s GDP is headed.
Talking of the economy, he then pointed towards a statement made by the Union Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, where she had said that the Indian Rupee was not going down but the USD was going up. Mocking which, he added that the BJP might later say that the Titanic did not sink but the water level came up, and stated that the BJP has learnt very well to buy democracy.
He also questioned the Centre as to why Punjab was asked to pay 8.5 crore Rupees as a ‘BSF fare’ after the Pathankot attack, and whether this meant that the state of Punjab, which had made the highest number of sacrifices, as far as military service is concerned, had to pay for its own army, even when the army does not belong to the Centre but to the nation, and an attack on Pathankot was indeed an attack on India itself.
The event was also attended by the former and 11th Prime Minister of India, HD Devegowda, who remarked that the ideology of ‘Hindutva’ is being used to polarize the country and as an agenda to win elections. Talking about Karnataka’s political realm, he stated that corruption has been a concerning issue in the state and that the recently held Vidhan Sabha elections, and the one which is to be held in May 2023 will prove to be crucial for shaping up the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
The next speaker for the event was Tamilisai Soundararajan, the Governor of Telangana and the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry, and talking about the Governor’s role in a state, she said that in Telangana, it is believed by her that the Governor’s office is the ‘people’s office’, as democracy as a political system is for the people only, and therefore, she prefers calling the Telangana Raj Bhavan as the ’Praja Bhavan’, as its doors are always open for the needy.
She added how she believes that the role of a Governor is to act like a bridge between the government and the people, and therefore, an active redressal cell has also been operating in the ‘Praja Bhavan’. Focusing on the ‘TB-free Telangana’ objective, she said that the patients suffering from illnesses like TB or cancer were ignored during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the PM of India, Narendra Modi should be thanked for the vision of a ‘TB-mukt Bharat’ by 2025.
She then shed light on the situation in Telangana as far as working with the KCR-government is concerned, and stated that the highest office of the country is not respected in the state of Telangana, the CM does not receive the Prime Minister or other ministers when they are in the state, the collectors do not follow the set protocol and do not receive the governor, and by doing all this, they think that they have ‘insulted’ the BJP.
“There is hidden or I can also call it open dictatorship in Telangana”, remarked the state’s governor. She claimed that whenever she tries to establish contact with the Telangana CM, K. Chandrashekhar Rao, his number is always ‘unreachable’, and whenever his office is called, the staff informs her that either he is resting or is away.
Looking at the promotion of regional languages like Tamil and Telugu all across India, Tamilisai thanked the Prime Minister, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath, and the Union Minister of Education, Dharmendra Pradhan, for the Kashi Tamil Sangam, as such events, she emphasized, interlink different cultures and states, and promote Indian unity and integrity.
Next in line was Sanjeev Sanyal, Member, PM’s Economic Advisory Council, who focused on the re-emerging concerns for COVID-19 in China, and compared China’s and India’s approaches towards the way both the countries tackled the pandemic. He stated that in China’s case, its ‘grand-plan approach’ clearly failed during the COVID1-19 crisis. While India’s approach for handling the uncertain COVID-19 situation was using a feedback loop to deal with the evolving situation.
Talking about the current concerns of China’s COVID situation, Sanyal stated that yet again, there is a lack of information coming out from the Chinese authorities and the WHO, and whatever information is available, which again, might be false, suggests that it is an existent variant of the virus which China is witnessing the surge of, in case of which, the existent vaccines and immunization is enough to deal with it.
Pointing out at the economic policy and performance of India during the pandemic, he said that India’s consistent effort to maintain the flexibility of the economy was a major factor during the crisis, and now, a growth rate of 7% is satisfactory as it is better than any other major economy of the world.
“India should not press the accelerator in the car heading towards development for the 9% growth marker currently, as the road is still bumpy”, expressed Sanyal. He added that ‘inclusive growth’ is absolutely crucial for the country and hence, the government is emphasizing on distribution schemes, ranging from housing to cooking gas to even toilets, and the schemes introduced by the government have been successful so far.
He further said, “We are macro-economic conservatives and India is not a ‘high-inflation’ country like Argentina or Turkey, and while earlier, we were a ‘high-ish’ inflation country, the rate of inflation reduced with the government’s inflation-targeting framework. We were able to maintain the inflation rate far better than other countries during the COVID-19 crisis”.
Speaking at the event was also Amitabh Kant, G20 Sherpa, who said that 85% of the world’s GDP comes from G20 countries, and hence, it is a major opportunity for India to put forward its perspective during its G20 presidency, with which, India’s key agenda will come forward. He added that India will focus on its mottos of inclusive and sustainable growth, women-led development, and digital transformation, for G20.
The Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, Manish Sisodia, was the next speaker, who, on being asked about the talk of the town, the liquor scam, said that what the Delhi government did was to bring out an excellent excise policy for Delhi, but the cries of a scam erupted. He mentioned how he asked himself about the problem with the policy, and how even the CBI and ED chargesheet could not pinpoint a scam which would have taken place, but the BJP kept shouting that he had earned 10 thousand crores from the liquor scam, but neither the CBI, nor the ED, nor he, himself, could find the money. Even after which, the BJP states that more chargesheets are coming up.
Speaking about the AAP’s mantra of work, he said that for the last 10 years, it has been working for the people. He added how a BJP or Congress worker could talk about their party’s vision but could never pinpoint the work done for the same, but on the other hand, an AAP worker, very easily, will be able to show you the work the party has done to realize its vision.
“AAP is an honest, working party and this is our victory mantra”, claimed Sisodia.
He further mentioned how his main focus was the development of the Delhi MCD schools, which is also his driving force, along with the vision to create more employers who are capable of generating employment for others. Manish added how earlier, the people of Delhi did not have anyone to fight for their cause, but now they have the AAP. He also mentioned that the AAP is working to ensure that the streets of Delhi become garbage free in less than 5 years from now.
“Our fight is not the BJP vs Congress or the BJP vs AAP fight, it is educational development. Let us see a dream together that rather than our students and youth aspiring to study or work in foreign institutes, we develop our institutes and companies so much that a student or youth from the USA or Europe dreams of studying or working in India”, commented the Delhi Dy. CM.
He further added how he realized that even though there are lot many challenges on the political front of India, we cannot run away from politics, but rather, we have to become a part of it as work cannot be done from staying outside the political system.
“The aam aadmi is our brand of politics and will always remain to be so”, he stated.