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Goyal emerging as NDA's communicator-in-chief: A credible alternative to Jaitley

By By Mukul Shukla & Rakesh Ranjan- 10 Dec 2020
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Officials and politicians alike have been loudly wondering about the presence of Minister Piyush Goyal in important but extremely difficult and sensitive negotiations with farm leaders.

The fact is Goyal, known as 'happy' in the old boys club of the Sangh, is slowly, but surely, emerging as the 'happy' communication alternative to late Arun Jaitley. Many, indeed, see him as a better alternative to AJ because he is open, rather than limited by his likes or dislikes, to the media. He doesn't only have the knowledge of the law, having been trained at the Churchgate-based pedigreed Government Law College (GLC), which is more ancient than the establishment of legal codes in the country, he is also a qualified, and has been a practising, chartered accountant, thus eminently familiar and conversant with the financial nitty-gritty.

A young Piyush, who learned to be articulate at Matunga's Bosco and by the sheer compulsion of helping out his mother's political campaigns (Chandrakanta Goyal was a three-time MLA of  Maharashtra winning in 1990, 1995, and 1999) couldn't but have grown happier when he entered the Churchgate-based HR College of Commerce and the GLC. And he couldn't escape developing a sound and practical academic inclination, as he milled around the crowd of thousands of students from different faculties within a KM radius from Churchgate.

A number of great institutions are rooted in the area. Stretching from the old Fort campus, Institute of Science, and Elphinston College across the Oval to Jamnalal Bajaj Institute and KC college, and at A&B Road of Churchgate where the GLC, Sydenham, and Jaihind are located, the place, through the year, teems with students during the day as well as in the evening - because a lot of students and post-graduate scholars live in the hostels on the B&C roads.

In this surrounding, you can't escape the explosion of knowledge that every student triggers on various subjects - from science and technology to economics and commerce, from finance to art, and from law to management. And, in this surrounding, you can't but be happy if you are a knowledge seeker by temperament. And on top, you have - for both sexes - beautiful and smart people with beautiful minds around.

So, you know, why the Sangh's old boys club call him happy.

And his happiness shows up, indeed streams live, every day on his Twitter handle as he carries out incessant dissemination of public information not only on the ministries he runs but particularly on each and every word and deed of PM Narendra Modi.

Unlike the pugnacious and furious social media wrestlers of the BJP, Goyal is pointedly positive, focused as he is always on the policy contributions of the government and the humane side of the PM. And he is smart in doing these things. Take, for instance, the projection of the PM as a friend of the farmers. While BJP SM cell chaps have been busy with their usual misinformation/disinformation/emotional outbursts on the farmers' agitation through several hashtags on Twitter, Goyal very cleverly accessed the database of the millions of IRCTC-listed passengers and emailed the documents and photographs of the PM, projecting him as the best friend of the Sikh community in general and Sikh farmers in particular.

While it's known that Goyal is possibly the go-to man of the PM, it's not yet known how much the PM counts on him. One barometer to measure this is perhaps the number of portfolios allocated to a minister. One may recall that before AJ was struck down by his failing health, he possibly held five-six portfolios simultaneously. Such was the confidence of the PM in him that, despite making a mess of the Defence Ministry, in particular, he continued to function as the go-to man of the Modi 1.0 and continued to carry on with the business of holding several portfolios.

So, going by the yardstick of the number of portfolios held simultaneously, Goyal may appear to be NaMo's best substitute for AJ.

Currently, he holds at once the ministries of railways, commerce & industry, and consumer affairs, food, and public distribution. And he's also the BJP's deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha.

While the ministries of railways and consumer affairs, food, and public distribution are highly people or voter sensitive arenas, commerce and industry may be consuming all the financial acumen of Goyal who has to prove that he can truly inspire domestic and international capital to invest - as well as push exports not only in terms of volume and value but can also unleash the policy measures that could turn India's exports competitive in quality, quantity, and value terms.

It's good to know that he has been at his destined job of accelerating capital investment. Reports from stock markets indicate that industries are returning to additional capacity creation, meaning investments are being made. Here Goyal has to ensure that profits and jobs are balanced, and not continues to be skewed in favor of profits. It's also some solace that the FDI jumped in Q2FY21. In the words of Goyal:  "Indicating global investors' preference for India's enabling environment under PM@NarendraModiji, FDI increased from $14.06 billion to $28.1 billion in the July-September quarter." This is from his Tweet of November 28, 2020. The comparative period is Q2FY20 versus Q2FY21.

But the point to note here is the way he credited the PM for FDI rising 100% on a Quarter versus Quarter basis. And this requires unadulterated dedication - the dedication that has possibly earned him the trust of the PM and made him the communicator-in-chief of Modi 2.0.

(By M K Shukla & Rakesh Ranjan)

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