It is a “shame” that the country and the government is not celebrating the 100th birth anniversary of former prime minister Indira Gandhi, senior Congress leader Palaniappan Chidambaram said.
The former Union finance minister also alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had failed in his economic policies and was thus, trying to “play the friend of the poor”.
“Indira Gandhi, like any other prime minister, must be judged and assessed in the context in which she was PM and the challenges she faced as PM and what she did.
“I think she was extremely successful in some areas, she was not successful in others and she made a mistake which she acknowledged later that ‘Emergency was a mistake and I will never make it again’,” he said.
Chidambaram was speaking during a discussion titled ‘Remembering Indira Commemorating Her Centenary’ at the Tata Literature Live festival here.
Gandhi was born on this day in 1917 in Allahabad.
Former Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh and ex-United States Ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith were also part of the discussion.
“It is a shame that the country is not celebrating the centenary of its only female prime minister. The government of India did not celebrate her centenary. I do not know which state government celebrated her centenary,” Chidambaram said.
“The Congress party is doing it in its own way but the country is not celebrating Indira Gandhi’s centenary much like Russia seems to have forgotten the centenary of the Russian revolution,” he said.
The Congress will continue to criticise Modi for not fulfilling the promises he made before coming to power, Chidambaram said, alleging that the prime minister has also “failed” to create job opportunities.
“Modi has failed in his economic policies. He came as a great reformer, trying to play the friend of the poor. He has abandoned his Rs 10 lakh suits and switched over to ‘desi’ (Indian) dresses. I do not know how the poor will react to him,” he said.
“Yes there are arguments that a significant part of India still believes that he (Modi) will deliver. But will he succeed or fail in his ability to create jobs? Yes, we will taunt him on the promises he made before coming to power, especially the one about putting Rs 15 lakh in accounts of Indians,” the senior Congress leader said.
Eventually, his failure or success will depend on his ability to create jobs for 1.2 crore people who enter the job market every year, Chidambaram said.
“So far on that front, he (Modi) has failed. He has another 15 months to deliver. Let us see if he can,” he added.