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Panelists feel that government should have looked into the details of the event to avoid embarrassing lapses

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas convention in his parliamentary constituency of Varanasi, and was scheduled for talks with his Mauritian counterpart Pravind Jugnauth after the inaugural session. The three-day-long convention is being organised from January 21 to 23 instead of January 9 to allow participants to visit the Kumbh mela in Prayagraj and attend the Republic Day parade in New Delhi. APN’s popular debate Mudda discussed the issue. Anchorperson Anant posed the questions to panelists including the Congress’s Omkar Nath Singh, BJP’s Sandeep Dwivedi, tourism representative Hina Shiraz, SP’s Abdul Hafiz Gandhi and APN consultant Govind Pant Raju.

Dwivedi said: “Critics will always have something to say, whatever the government does.”

Omkar Nath Singh said: “The event is all bunkum, ‘mithya’. When you call investors you have to talk strongly about the nation, not about the party. Nation is bigger than party. PM said in his inaugural speech that there has been a huge wave of development, but which new industry has he started? He mentioned defence manufacturing, and so on, the truth is that he has did no homework, and his speech is empty talk.”

Shiraz said: “The event will help tourism. “

Dwivedi said: “The Opposition is saying that the BJP will lose in the coming elections, but why will people remove someone who has introduced cleanliness in politics? Clean politics, clean administration, all these are not achievements that will appeal people.”

Raju said: “What the PM said in his inaugural speech was in the nature of making a comparison. I find nothing particularly objectionable about it. Corruption in government offices, MNREGA funds misuse, everyone knows of all that. If PM has said that earlier things were different, it was said in simple terms. He has said that the funds now are going directly where they are targeted.”

Gandhi said: “Why have fraudsters been allowed to leave the country without any accountability? Why is PM taking mileage at the cost of others? It is not comparison, it is plain criticism of the earlier governments.”

Singh said:”An NRI forum is not the right place for such empty talk. He should have asked for investment and spoken of the high calibre of professionalism in the country. He did not talk of his government’s shortcomings, he is talking of shortcomings of others.” Anant then said how will he (PM) attract foreign investors if he talks of his own government’s shortcomings?” To this, Dwivedi raised the issue of Bofors and corruption in the Congress government’s time. Singh then mentioned the charges against the Rafale deal.

Raju said: “Congress found no way to prevent misuse of funds raked in through taxes. That’s why when comparisons are made, the other party is bound to feel hurt. Pravasi Diwas guests are vetted by the government. This sammelan is to make pravasis feel confident about investing in the country. It is an effort to connect NRIs with their roots.”

Gandhi said: “Since 2013 when the Pravasi Diwas was started, the intention has been to attract investment, but it is an evolving process. Why the dates were changed? Moreover, the Pravasi Diwas booklet mentions MJ Akbar as a minister. This is an embarrassing lapse on the part of the government.”’

Anant asked Dwivedi why the picture of MJ Akar, who faced misconduct allegations by around 18 women, is there in the Pravasi Diwas booklet? Dwivedi said the booklet was made in May2018 when Akbar was still minister.

Raju said: “We can’t find it objectionable if the booklet had been made earlier, otherwise it’s a glaring mistake.”

Shiraz said: “It can’t be ignored that Akbar’s name creates a bad impression. A comittee should have been looking into such things to avoid these kinds of embarrassing errors. It paints a bad picture of the government.”

Omkar Nath Singh said: “This is not the first time such errors have come up. It happened when the Chinese PM was here and a wrong map wads printed.”

Gandhi said: ”The booklet was made in May 2018. Since then, is there nothing the government wants to show to Pravasi Indians? Why could not the government print a fresh booklet? BJP is an opportunist party, and so changed the dates to grab mileage, of Kumbh mela, of Republic day, even the choice of the venue, which is the PM’s constituency.”

Raju said: “Even if the government has tried to grab mileage, it is part of politics. After all the visitors got the opportunity to go to Kumbh and see the R-Day, I would say it’s a good move. Benares airport has improved dramatically.”

Dwivedi said: “BJP is very confident of success in the coming elections, gathbandhan will have no impact on the BJP’s fortunes.”

Omkar Nath Singh said: “It is good that the government is attracting Pravasi Indians. But is it is clear that the move is for self-interest. Not all are industrialists; proper mileage should have been gained from the sammelan. However, it looks like the BJP has lost the plot.”

Compiled by- Niti Singh Bhandari

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