Railways Minister Piyush Goyal was named the “Politician Of The Year” by vernacular newspaper Lokmat at its “Lokmat Maharashtrian Of The Year Awards, 2018” on Tuesday. He was felicitated under the special awards category, which included awards like Social Influencer – awarded to Akshay Kumar for his films like “PadMan” and “Toilet: Ek Prem Katha” and Lifetime Achievement Award – awarded to Dr D.Y. Patil.
On this occasion, Goyal also took part in a one-on-one discussion with Journalist Dibang, and in the process called him out for his motivated questions based on fake news.
Piyush Goyal in this discussion was asked regarding his Ministry’s intention to award a Rs 78,000 crore signalling modernising tender (which was rejected by PM Modi) to a single company as opposed to multiple companies as was the practice in the past.
To this Goyal replied that earlier the lowest bidder (L1) was awarded 30% of the total works contract, the second lowest bidder (L2) got 22%, the third lowest (L3) 20% and so on. Hence he claimed that companies didn’t have an incentive to sell their product at the lowest price, and the new system to award 100% of the contract to a single lowest bidder would yield competitive prices.
For this, the journalist tried to put Goyal in a spot by claiming that this new approach by the Railways Ministry has failed to work, and the tender’s bidder (for the signalling system) quoted a much higher price.
To this Goyal promptly retorted that the tendering process hadn’t even begun yet, and advised the media to reduce publishing ‘Fake News’ and do proper research plus verify their sources for confirming the veracity of a story.
Things turned much more interesting later.
The journalist then turned his attention to the finances of the BJP and “congratulated” Goyal in his capacity as BJP’s National Treasurer for overseeing an 81% growth in BJP’s income for FY 2016-17. The BJP declared an income figure of Rs 1034.27 crore for the said period.
While on the matter, the journalist claimed that speculation was rife regarding political parties needing a whopping Rs 34,000 crore as expenses for contesting the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, and questioned Goyal regarding the same.
Goyal promptly claimed that the journalist has come up with another example of “Fake News”. After expressing hope that the journalist was good in maths, Goyal pointed out that a total expense of Rs 34,000 for 543 Lok Sabha constituencies translates to about Rs 80 crore per seat (It accurately translates to Rs 62.61 crores). He thus claimed that if parties start spending such amounts, it would result in destabilising the economy.
After describing the Congress party as the “media’s friend”, Goyal claimed that the Congress too had alleged that the BJP had an advertising budget of Rs 5,000 crore. He thus referred to the audited reports of the party which are available on the BJP’s website. For the FY 2016-17 as per the audited reports, the BJP spent Rs 606.04 crore for election and general propaganda.
Goyal thus claimed that like the BJP, the media should also reveal their income sources and answer to the nation as to why do they spike their advertising rates by 10, 20 and even 40 times the normal during the election period.
You can watch the full clip of Goyal calling out the media here: