Time will tell if Modi can run a stable government, says P Chidambaram

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Chennai, Jun 7 (PTI) With Prime Minister Narendra Modi constrained to form a coalition government, time alone will tell if he is able to run a stable government, Congress leader and former union minister P Chidambaram said on Friday.

Modi had always been a "one person government" whether as chief minister of Gujarat for 12 years or as prime minister for 10 years. "He is now constrained to form a coalition government. Whether this will be stable or not, he should reply or time will tell. I or you can't say," Chidambaram told reporters here when asked about Modi's 3.0.

Forming an electoral alliance was not easy as several regional parties had their own ideology and history, he said. "Uniting all regional parties and forming an alliance is not easy. And running a coalition is a difficult task. The Congress has this experience. Tomorrow Modi will start getting this experience. Let's see how he will handle it," the former finance minister said.

Interacting with mediapersons at Satyamurthy Bhavan, the Congress state headquarters, he said alliances could be formed based on the conditions prevailing in the respective states. "In Andhra Pradesh, for instance, with whom will the Congress align? Will it align with YSRCP or TDP who are not willing?" he asked.

So, poll ties are forged based on the conditions prevailing in the states, he said and added that "firming up ties and running a coalition government is not only difficult but also complicated." Declining to accept that the Congress lost in the Lok Sabha election, Chidambaram said the people's mandate showed that his party won a "moral victory" while it was Modi's BJP that faced a "moral defeat." "Why should Modi feel jealous or be sad if we celebrate our victory," he asked.

Likening the poll battle to an Olympic competition where the winners are called medalists, the Congress senior said, "We aimed for gold but got a silver medal. This is not the last lap. We still consider it a victory. Why do you say we have lost? We are happy. We could have done better," he said.

On the prime minister bowing before the Constitution at the NDA parliamentary party meeting today, Chidambaram said the PM had no choice because the Constitution is supreme. "The fact that he bowed to the Constitution is welcome. But he had no choice," he said.

To a question, the Congress leader said his party did not reject Electronic Voting Machines but the party has sought the improvement of VVPATs and asserted that he has never blamed the EVMs.

Reacting to Modi's comment on the silence of the opposition bloc on EVMs, he said "Please read the manifesto. What we say is the VVPAT slip, in order for us to read, displays for about 4-5 seconds and then the slip falls inside the box. What we say in the manifesto is that there should be one more improvement," he told reporters.

Rather than the slip automatically falling inside the VVPAT box, the voter should be able to receive it, see that and then deposit it into the box, and with this improvement, there will be no doubt for anyone as regards the EVM-VVPAT system.

Even now, if opinion is sought on EVMs, "four out of 10 or three out of 10 people doubt the EVMs, and I am not saying if the suspicion is just or not. As far as I am concerned, I have never blamed the EVMs." The Congress party's stand is to further improve and reform the EVM system, he asserted. "I am not denying that one or two party leaders are opposing the EVM system, but that is not the party's stand." Chidambaram rejected the prime minister likening his third consecutive term in office to the monumental record set by former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

In his victory speech, Modi had said that "after 1962, for the first time, a government has comeback to power for the third time after being in power twice back-to-back." Modi, who is set to take charge as prime minister for a third term, has compared himself with Nehru, Chidambaram said. The BJP under Modi obtained 282 seats (in 2014), 303 (in 2019), and now obtained 240 seats (32 below the halfway mark), but Nehru's Congress secured 361 seats, 374 and 364 seats, respectively, in 1952, 1957 and 1962 elections, Chidambaram pointed out.

"We reject Modi comparing himself with Nehru. People will also reject it," Chidambaram said.

Speaking about the exit polls, Chidambaram said the people were fooled through the projections, which were proved false by the election results.

"No one stood outside the polling booth to ask for the trends but suddenly they claimed through their survey that BJP would win 350 seats or more. How did they all arrive at this number? The reason is it was manufactured in a place and photostat copies were circulated to others," he claimed.

He thanked the people of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry for ensuring a resounding victory for the INDIA alliance. PTI JSP ANE VGN SS JSP ANE