Piyush Goyal, Minister of Railways and Coal at ET Global Business Summit 2019. Edited excerpts:
On expecting 300-plus seats in the general election
I will tell you why I feel confident. It is very difficult sitting in this room to really understand the deep impact these (government) programmes have had on the last man at the bottom of the pyramid. People today are willing to move out of the traditional caste and religion and community-based voting patterns and look at change in their own states. Did you ever imagine we would get 73 in last time around (in Uttar Pradesh)? You did not. Did you ever imagine that in the assembly elections, which was three years after the government had come in, did you imagine us getting 325 seats, a feat which has never happened in independent India.
On Make in India, Vande Bharat
We just launched Vande Bharat Express. Now it is very easy to deride the success of Make in India but I personally believe failure helps me to better myself every time. If it had a glitch on its return journey, which was not a commercial journey, just an empty train… I can understand what needs to be done better.
On private sector investment
The BJP has always believed in integrity of processes and good governance. That has been our first and foremost credo as a party (when) Jana Sangh was initiated and started to bring about honesty and good governance in this country. We have never ever tried to support the private sector to do wrong and our effort to clean up the system has had its pain points undoubtedly. We have come to realise that there were big borrowers who borrowed in an indiscriminatory manner on a very low capital base and which is today coming home to roost. Ownership does not define success, it is vision and leadership that defines the success of any organisation and I think it applies to government, it applies to government-owned PSUs, it applies to the private sector, it applies to a media house.
One of the focus areas of this government has been to keep prices low, to bring inflation down and if you will see or any of the persons here who are engaged with the industry will tell you that this has been probably the lowest inflation in the last five years that the country has ever witnessed since independence. Also, we have tried to make our farmers produce more, improve their productivity. I can proudly say that we produce all the requirements of this country, our import dependence has come to nearly zero as against when we came into government in 2014.