Prime time at IIT-B with CM Devendra Fadnavis and Arnab Goswami

Updated: Dec 28, 2016, 09:04 IST | Pallavi Smart

CM Devendra Fadnavis and news anchor Arnab Goswami address issues like reservation and vote bank politics, and take potshots at other politicians during interactive session at IIT-B

The highlight of the programme was when CM Devendra Fadnavis (right) and Arnab Goswami took potshots at other politicians. Pic/Sameer Markande
The highlight of the programme was when CM Devendra Fadnavis (right) and Arnab Goswami took potshots at other politicians. Pic/Sameer Markande

It was prime time at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay, yesterday, as hundreds of students thronged the premier institute to watch an interactive session between Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and former news anchor Arnab Goswami during the annual campus festival — Mood Indigo.

The interaction began with few questions thrown by Goswami at Fadnavis. Before the much-awaited discussion, students had already registered their questions on social media with the tag #AskMahaCM. Despite Goswami’s reputation for being a tough interviewer, however, the discussion didn’t have many penetrating or impressive questions. Instead, it was more like an hour of entertainment for the young audience who cheered as both Fadnavis and Goswami took potshots, at each other and the Opposition and other political leaders.

Standing his ground
Perhaps the most incisive turn the chat took was while discussing reservation policies. While the IIT circles are known to strongly oppose reservation in admissions, the CM stood his ground on the issue and said, “We have some sections of society that have been deprived of opportunities. To help them come forward, reservation will continue to remain in the system for some more time.”

Goswami pointed out that political leaders tend to bend to the wishes of their vote bank while making policy decisions.

Fadnavis justified this and explained: “To become an agent of change, it is important for me to get elected, for which my vote bank is very important. Unlike you, Arnab, I have to face my voters every five years to ask for votes again, so I cannot afford to have them disappointed. One has to strike a balance here.” However, the news anchor continued to pursue the issue in the style he is well known for, asking, “Why can’t the government stand behind what is right even if that is not the popular opinion?” To this, Fadnavis responded, “My government has taken such a stand by allowing equal right of worship to women in religious places such as Haji Ali Dargah and Shani Shingnapur. Only I am not as fiery as you to be able to shout about it.”

Comedy hour
What really made the students cheer was when Goswami and Fadnavis trained their sarcasm on other political leaders, particularly from the Congress. “I was once in a program where Mammohan Singh spoke,” quipped Goswami, drawing chuckles from the audience in the convocation hall. This was followed by a discussion of dynasty politics.

“Rahul Gandhi has no qualifications other than being a son of the Nehru-Gandhi family,” said Fadnavis, further adding, “While dynasty cannot be completely avoided, that should not be the sole qualification for anybody.”

Yes Prime Minister?
Asked whether he had plans to become prime minister, after a pause, Fadnavis laughed and said, “I am happy focusing on my responsibilities as CM. All those who dreamt of becoming PM have lagged behind in the race such as — Sharad Pawar, Laluprasad Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav.”

CM wants to know
Arnab Goswami wasn’t the only one with questions yesterday – CM Fadnavis chose the platform of Mood Indigo to launch a new website called Transform Maharashtra, where youngsters can register to submit their ideas to improve the country. “50 per cent of the population of India is made of the youth below the age of 25 years, and we want their support with fresh ideas to transform the nation. The best ideas submitted to the website will be incorporated in policy-making,” said Fadnavis.

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