FOR ME, the yatra has been a way of thinking. It is a way of acting. Walking across this country has been an extremely humbling experience. It is one thing as a politician to go somewhere by car or plane, and meet people and listen to them. You learn quite a lot like that. You can also sit with a farmer and talk to him. But it is a completely different thing when you are walking on the road. And particularly when you are walking for 100 to 120 days in a row, and you are feeling a bit of pain and pressure. So that has been one very humbling thing.
The second thing is, when you are walking, you see the difficulty that people in India face. This includes farmers, unemployed youngsters, labourers, and small and medium businesses. And the thing that has amazed me is the amount of strength and resilience our country and our people have.
The other day, I made a statement that I do not think the west can take on the Chinese. India can. I said that after seeing our country. The amount of pressure our people can take with a smile is completely mind-boggling. It is a tragedy that we are wasting this potential. It is a tragedy that 1 per cent of India owns 40 per cent of its wealth. It is a tragedy. One, because it is unfair; two, because you are stifling the growth of this country.
I met so many small and medium business owners. And I asked them a question―“Do you think you can become a Rs1,000 crore or a Rs2,000 crore or a Rs10,000 crore business?” All of them said, “No, it is impossible.” Why so? “We do not have the connections to do it,” they told me. “We simply cannot enter the political space. The doors are closed for us. We cannot do it.”
There is an acceptance. But you cannot build India like that. Twenty people are not going to be able to build India. You need tens of thousands of solid business people to build this country.
We are heading towards an accident on multiple fronts, including in employment and China relations. That to me is visible when I am walking.
―As told to Soni Mishra