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Congress must reclaim the narrative as a centrist alternative to the BJP and the far Left: Milind Deora


ET Q&A

The perception among all small, medium and big business houses is that the North Block sees commerce through a suspicious lens, senior Congress leader Milind Deora told Krishna Kumar . Deora said this perception must go in order to revive risk appetite. The government turned a blind eye and did precious little to keep companies like Jet Airways, Essar Steel, Café Coffee day alive. Excerpts:

On reason for the low risk appetite of businesses

There must be regulation but not an environment of fear. I know the CEO of a leading multinational who has started speaking to his colleagues about product launches using encrypted communication tools. He feels that the government might be listening to him and sharing sensitive information with his competitor. If the government wants, it has the power to instantly rectify this culture of fear and borderline paranoia.

On the Congress alliance in Maha

There were several voices within Congress on the pact. The party finally took a decision keeping its short-term as well as long-term interests in mind. As long as the CMP is adhered to by all parties, the alliance makes sense. Secularism is part of our constitution and part of CMP.

BCCL

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On Congress opposing CAA and NRC

Every country must know who its citizens are. Also, it is our moral duty to protect minorities who are being persecuted in other countries. However, the government’s rhetoric suggests that they were trying to link NRC and CAA, thereby spreading fear and panic among Muslims. This is the source of the problem today. The onus rests on the government to clarify that CAA is a standalone exercise.

On Congress ‘seen’ as controlled by Left liberals
Congress has always opposed and fought the Left. However, I believe that Congress must reclaim the narrative as a centrist alternative to BJP as well as to the far Left. For this, we have to rethink our economic policies. Congress presented a 21st century vision under Rajiv Gandhi and Manmohan Singh, and we can do it again.

On ‘perception’ of Congress veering to the Left on social issues and being seen as anti-Hindu?
We have it in us to better communicate our social vision without straying from our core beliefs. If there is a perception that we have gone too far to the Left, we should correct this perception.

To the second question, we certainly need to communicate to the public that Congress’s secularism exposes communal, hardline and extremist elements from all religions. These values need to be demonstrated by the party before the electorate.

On the liberal movement

Globally as well as in India, the liberal movement has to be very careful when selecting its spokespersons and leaders. The liberal movement has taken a massive electoral hit because liberal journalists, writers and intellectual often back political leaders globally who espoused and continue to espouse incendiary and illiberal views. I do admit that this has alienated moderate voters from center-left parties.

True liberals must reclaim the liberal space from the far Left, who have subjective standards for measuring and calling out extremism. We must be objective in our approach and call a spade a spade regardless of religion or ethnic background.





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