BJP MP Varun Gandhi today said there was a need to ponder over what should be the role of voters once elections were over while pointing out that the provision of “Right to Recall” the elected representatives was prevalent in over 60 countries.
Maintaining that he was neither in favour nor against the introduction of the “Right to Recall” system, which empowered the voters to remove mid-way a lawmaker who had failed to deliver, in India, Gandhi, however, said the big question was should the people remain just spectators (after an election) or bring in change.
Addressing a gathering of students at the Karnavati University here, the MP from Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh ruled that his appeal to the rich MPs and MLAs to forgo their salaries had not elicited any positive response.
He said an MP or MLA faced disqualification if found guilty of involvement in serious crimes, but nothing much happened to those who were accused of criminal offenses but not convicted by courts.
“If you have an MP or MLA who is convicted of serious crimes, he will be disqualified. What if they are accused of crimes like land-grabbing, arson or rioting? Nothing happens to them. Because you press the button (while voting) once and there is no role (for you) for the next five years,” Gandhi added.
“Right to Recall is there in 60 countries. I am not saying it should or should not happen here. But my question is — what is the role of people in a democracy? Is it of a spectator who pushes a button once in five years or is it to be a person who can direct change in a democracy?” he asked.
Gandhi said the time had come when the “political people should stop thinking about the next election and start thinking about the next generation”.
Speaking on the topic, “The Road to Justice: Opportunities and Impediments”, he said none of the rich MPs or MLAs, whom he had urged to give up their salaries as lawmakers, had agreed to do so.
“I wrote a letter to all the MPs who had declared assets of more than Rs 25 crore. I said to them that why don’t you give up your parliamentary salary? And I also wrote the same to every MLA who had declared assets of more than Rs 25 crore.
“I told them if we do that, the exchequer can save Rs 480 crore a year, which is a substantial sum. But, I did not get back a single letter (reply),” Gandhi said, adding that some lawmakers even got angry with him for floating such an idea.
The 38-year-old MP said today’s youth was not attracted to politics as much as in the past and this “actually reflected the failure of the political class to inspire anybody”.
Gandhi raised questions about the implementation of the Right To Education (RTE) and claimed that a majority of the funds under the scheme went into building school structures.
“Education is key to nurture innovation. We have been focussing on RTE. We have spent around Rs 2.5 lakh crore so far. It’s a wonderful idea, but why has it not worked?”
“Because 89 percent of all the spending in RTE is on building (school) buildings. That’s it.
“If there is no teacher or faculty in that building, what do you do then? In a school in my constituency, kids came only to have mid-day meal,” he said.
Expressing concern over the quality of education, research and innovation in India, the BJP leader said, “The Economic Survey (2017-18) said we had spent 0.6 percent of our GDP on innovation. Countries like South Korea and Israel spend 5 percent. A small and impoverished country like Bangladesh spends almost 3 percent on innovation.”
Commenting on start-ups, he said a lot of them failed because of flaws in the investment strategy prevailing in India.
“A Niti Aayog report says India has the highest rate of start-ups in the world. But we also have the highest rate of failures of start-ups in the word.
“The gestation period of a start-up in a country like Japan is about 10 years. You invest and wait for 10 years to let the business grow.
“But in India, 71 percent of investors pull out from start-ups by the end of just three years, because those businesses had not started making money,” Gandhi said.