Manish Tewari was Minister for Information and Broadcasting between 2012 and 2014, and is the national spokesperson for the Indian National Congress. His new book, Decoding a Decade: The Politics of Policymaking, is a collection of his writings from the last decade, exposing the underbelly of Indian politics and taking a hard look at the controversies that cropped up during this period. Juggernaut spoke to him about the perceptions surrounding UPA-II, and what he thought were the achievements of the Narendra Modi government:
Your book, Decoding a Decade, speaks of both the UPA and the current NDA governments. What do you think are the achievements of the Narendra Modi government?
The greatest achievement of the Prime Minister has been his constant communication with the people. During the UPA there was a perception that the leadership does not speak enough and directly to the people. The Prime Minister has used the 360 degree media paradigm effectively, but it is a double-edged sword. Too much talking and little doing can also be a problem.
Corollary to above, what are the biggest failures of the current government?
The biggest failure of the current government is the spectre of fear they have perpetuated. The country is on an edge. Minorities are subdued, intelligentsia is insecure, institutions are regarded as adversaries. There is a sense of suffocation in the air.
Looking back, how fair do you think are the charges against UPA-II, that the government suffered from ‘policy paralysis’ and corruption?
You also write, ‘The BJP’s coming to power and its obvious “Hindutva” agenda in its 100 days in office may have given a fillip’ to young Indian Muslims being radicalized. Do you think the growing power of the RSS is responsible for this?
Do you think the Narendra Modi government is forcing the media to censor itself?