Modi government should opt for the PV Narasimha Rao-Manmohan Singh economic model to drive the economy out of troubled waters, wrote Parakala Prabhakar, a political economist and husband of Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in an opinion piece published by The Hindu on Monday.
The former communication adviser to the government of Andhra Pradesh has also slammed the Modi government for attacking the Nehruvian economic framework, stating that BJP’s think-tank "fails to realise" that the attack remains more a political assault and can never graduate to an economic critique.
"Constructs such as 'Integral Humanism' could not be rendered into practical policy initiatives in the modern market-driven, globalised world. The BJP could, therefore, have released itself from that limiting agenda by wholly embracing and even owning the Rao-Singh economic architecture," writes Prabhakar in the article titled "A lodestar to steer the economy".
When asked about her husband's article, Nirmala Sitharaman said from 2014 to 2019, "we have done fundamental reforms".
“If you talk of deep reforms this government has taken many such steps,” Sitharaman said, defending the present government’s credentials on the economic front.
Sitharaman then went on to list initiatives like GST, IBC, linking of Aadhaar to government benefits to reaffirm her argument. She also cited programmes like Ujjwala and rural electrification, saying that the government has also ensured last-mile delivery of these projects.
In his article, Prabhakar went on to suggest that like Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel could become an icon in the BJP's political project, Narasimha Rao could become a robust underpinning for its economic architecture.
"A full-fledged embrace and an aggressive pursuit of it even now could provide the BJP and the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi a lodestar to steer the economy out of the choppy waters it is in at present. That architecture could help the BJP remove the present infirmity in its economic thinking. Otherwise, macroeconomic thought leadership will continue to be offered to the BJP by the shouting analysts on television and in WhatsApp forwards," writes Prabhakar.
Prabhakar starts his piece with the observation that "while the government is still in denial mode", data into the public domain show that sector after sector is staring at a seriously challenging situation.
"The government, however, is yet to show signs that it has come to grips with what ails the economy. Much less evidence is available to believe that it has a strategic vision to address the challenges," he says.
"The path-breaking repositioning ushered in by PV Narasimha Rao and his economic amanuensis Manmohan Singh remains unchallenged even today. Almost every political party that formed the government, took part in governance or lent outside support to the government at the Centre since then embraced that repositioning. The Rao-Singh policy scaffolding remained largely unaltered in the last quarter century," writes Prabhakar.
The Twitterati too were quick to react and soon the social media platform was flooded with various reactions; some said that the finance minister should listen to her husband while some other pointed out that spouses have complete freedom to have different opinions and Prabhakar’s article should not be taken as a personal comment but rather a comment on the Union government’s faulty policies; many others appealed to the government to listen to the advice elaborated upon in the article;