Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Friday that in order to retain the popular vote, any government has to blend good governance with clever politics. He added that even though in government, he will not tolerate any over-reach by federal investigative agencies, and that all options were on the table for India to hit back after the Pulwama attack.
Speaking at the Economic Times Global Business Summit, Jaitley was asked whether sound policy is enough to win elections or whether sentiment in favour of the sitting government also mattered. “I think you have to blend good governance with clever politics,” Jaitley responded. “What we have done in terms of policy direction is fuse market economy with social conscience,” he said.
Jaitley said India’s economy needed a stable government for the next five years. “The last thing we need is a lack of policy direction. We need a government that lasts five years, not six months.”
The finance minister’s comment on over-reach by investigative agencies was in the context of a first information report (FIR) filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in January against ICICI Bank Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Chanda Kochhar, her husband Deepak Kochhar, and Videocon Group promoter Venugopal Dhoot.
“When you try to reform a system, it is also important that investigating agencies follow some high standards. These standards are integrity, compliance of law, and fairness. Just because I am in government, I will not blindly accept whatever the central agencies are doing,” Jaitley said.
After the CBI’s FIR last month, Jaitley had questioned the federal agency’s approach and remarked that including too many bankers in FIRs could hurt the banking industry’s interests.
Speaking on Pulwama, Jaitley said India had all options on the table — military and non-military. “Not all of them need to be used now itself. This is not a one-week war,” he said.
“Our capacity to face adversity and economic fundamentals are strong; Pakistan’s aren’t. Look at where Bangladesh was when it was formed in 1971. Today, Bangladesh is ahead of Pakistan in almost all economic indicators, while Pakistan has had to go to the International Monetary Fund 13 times,” he said, referring to the country seeking yet another bailout from the IMF.