Sunday, September 23, 2012
Demystifying 'big ticket reforms' drama of Dr Singh
Obviously, demystifying Manmohan Singh’s ‘big ticket reforms and FDI in retail’ could lead one to take a closer look at Indian political scene.
It will not be wrong to describe it as a desperate act of a student who has not studied the entire semester and wants to top the class by burning mid-night oil.
It's as if the government has come out of Rip Van Winkle slumber. The Washington Post article headlined "India's 'silent' Prime Minister becomes a tragic figure" has sort of given a jerk to Dr Manmohan Singh.
He has got back his spirit - a replica of 2008 when he dedicated himself full time to seal the Indo-US nuclear deal.
The pact was ensured but contrary to his promise, Indian energy sector still is waitng for that revolution.
On a different plane, now, post exit of Mamata Banerjee, on the face value, the government has managed to survive ostensibly with the support of highly unpredictable Mulayam Singh Yadav’s support and of course Mayawati’s BSP.
Moreover, these two cowbelt leaders - essentially caste (and of course often pro-Muslim) players are not known for strong left-oriented anti-reform stance of Mamata.
So far so good!
The government survives; and if it survives the country can expect more reforms --- on pension and insurance sectors to start with.
This has given Dr Manmohan Singh the fresh lease of life. One expected this confidence would be reflected in his rare address to the nation. But his speech
that day had sparked off rather angry reactions.
The comment - money does not grow on trees from an economist who has served with World Bank, who as Prime Minister is more known to have sided with Americans, American interests than the inflation-hit concern of his poor countrymen, actuall comes as an insult.
People have reasons to feel hurt.
Not many Congressmen have been able to defend him so far on this. The next day in high security Vigyan Bhavan, a shirtless lawyer, allegedly owing allegiance to Lalu Prasad Yadav’s party RJD, shouted slogans at him.
Perhaps the message is getting clearer that people are anguished with corruption as well as on the typical know-all ivory tower expert views of the Prime Minister.
“Yes, Prime Minister, "money does not grow on trees". That is why governments must spend wisely, not on programmes which are designed for specifically for looting in the name of the public,” commented our good friend and senior journalist Mahesh Vijapurkar from Mumbai on Facebook.
Real polity is tougher and more complex. Ultimately, Dr Singh is not just the ‘ceo’ of UPA; his party has to win election.
In Kerala, the Congress chief minister is set to oppose FDI.
The party, which stormed back to power in 2004 unseating a well-performing Atal Bihari Vajpayee regime on Aam Admi slogan, today stands isolated from the man on the streets.
Rahul Gandhi does not inspire Congressmen any longer. A family loyalist like Salman Khurshied says the crown prince role has been 'cameo'. These would make Congress depend more on Mulayam Singh, someone harbouring strong Prime Ministerial ambitions.
BSP is eyeing to play its own game and has asked Congress to show detachment from Mulayam to bank on her support.
The Congress MPs are themselves not sure whether FDI retail will ensure their victory. A section of Congressmen in Bengal and also outside are exploring the idea of hobnobbing with mass leader like Mamata Banerjee - even in states like Himachal Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.
There is a possibility of split in Congress rank and file and thus, the general election could come by 2013.
In the meantime, FDI will remain on a table --- to be utilized as economic reform tool only in about 2 years from now!
A political counsellor attached to an embassy in Delhi, recently said,
"the announcement of FDI in retail by Prime Minister Dr Singh is only aimed towards foreign countries and MNCs. What happens to FDI retail hype if all or most states oppose it -- that too on the eve of elections".
This is the anti-climax of the second generation reforms inuntiated by our scholarly Prime Minister, who can be easily described as an 'over estimated economist and under estimated politician'.
The FDI drama is a good diversionary strategy of a shrewd politician, who loves to give indirect message that he is a reluctant Prime Minister. The target is to take people off the 'Coalgate'. But this is too late and too little.