Now Jairam Ramesh feels Narendra Modi could be India's Richard Nixon
Ramesh believes Modi has the potential of emerging as 'India's Richard Nixon' in handling Pakistan, China because he enjoys the "flexibility" that his predecessor lacked.
"Mr Modi in many ways is like Mr Nixon who opened China to America. Modi could become India's Nixon when it comes to China or Pakistan," Ramesh said in an interview. "If we had invited Nawaz Sharif we would have been criticised for feeding him biriyani. But there is exchange of saris and shawls (now)."
"Had Dr Manmohan Singh done something pragmatic, BJP would have pounced on him. B ut if Mr Modi does something pragmatic we are not in a position to pounce on him," Ramesh said.
Ramesh foresees contradictions becoming visible soon. Ramesh said BJP think-tank Vivekananda Foundation has a very hard line on Pakistan. Instead of any modus vivendi, it wants India to follow a tough approach. "How that fits in with the new spirit of writing letters and exchanging shawls, I do not know," Ramesh said. "But these are some of the contradictions which are bound to come out sooner than rather later."
Congress leader asserted that handling Pakistan and China were "not easy" but "deeper issues". Citing the instance of border settlement with China as a major issue, Ramesh said a solution might have been possible in the 60s but not now. "Chinese claim on Tawang has infinitely complicated a settlement," Ramesh said. "Mr Modi cannot be Mr Nixon on this (because) he cannot exchange territory and population."
Asserting that chai-walla comment was "unfortunate" and it cost Congress "heavily" Ramesh sees Mr Modi in PMO completely different from the politician during campaigning. There were neither "radical U-turns" nor "dramatic reversals" on the policy front during the ongoing 'honeymoon period'. The Modi government's presidential address could have well been that of UPA's, he said.
"Whether it is real Modi or a tactical Modi, frankly we do not known," Ramesh said. "His language in Parliament and outside after becoming PM appears to be somewhat different from the language he had adopted when he was campaigning. Whether it is temporary phenomenon, a passing phenomenon, whether this will continue, I do not know."
Ramesh credited Modi for affecting a generational shift in his Cabinet. "It is inconceivable in Congress that first-time MPs like Nirmala Sitharaman, Dharminder Pradhan, Piyush Goyal or Smriti Irani can become ministers independently handling major ministries," Ramesh said. "I became minister of state, then minister of state with independent charge and then full minister. I worked up the ladder, I was 50 years when I became MoS and people said I was young." He said he hoped Congress would eighties emulate this model.
Talking about the post-poll Congress, Ramesh said the "huge scale of the defeat" would take the party more time for introspection.