Former Union Minister Arun Shourie on Monday, in a sharp attack against the Narendra Modi government, accused it of “managing economy means, managing the headlines” and added that “people have started recalling the days of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.”
At the launch of ‘Turn of The Tortoise’, a book written by former Business Standard Editor-in-Chief T N Ninan, Shourie, as part of a panel discussion, expressed his views on the differences between the past and present governments. Shourie said, “there is a clearer belief (in the present dispensation) that managing economy means managing the headlines and this is not really going to work.”
The former minister in Vajpayee government said, “I feel there was never a weaker PMO as now. There has never been as great a centralisation of functions, not power, of functions in PMO as now. …If fellows don’t have the domain expertise that Brajesh Mishra had, L K Jha had, all these principal secretaries had, then things get stuck.”
Also, taking a shot at the banking sector, he added, “If you see impediments that were there in tax administration, there is virtually no change… Banking reform has been delayed by a year and a half for no reason. So, this tortoise is very generous metaphor. Ye to so hi jata hai (this tortoise goes to sleep).”
He claimed that industrialists are afraid of speaking against the government. “The industrialists who meet the Prime Minister don’t speak whole truth. After meeting the PM, they wonder what is happening and say ‘please do something’. And in front of media they give the government 9 out of 10,” Shourie claimed.
What Shourie does is make claims on behalf of industrialists and their perceived issues. But he fails to give any concrete argument or an example of failure of administration and instead, takes shots at the beef ban issue (“the Congress plus a cow” comment) as the NDA Government’s key trick to delusion people.
Speaking at the same event, Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian said “India is a country which is not following the normal economic development model… India is growing by defying its comparative advantage,”
Shourie, on the government’s relationship with the states and the opposition, said, “One thing that has surprised me about the government is its timidity. Slight opposition comes and the reform is dropped… In my head I would say please befriend, please impress… You cannot get up every morning and get into a boxing match.”
Former Foreign Secretary Shyam Sharan, also a panelist in the event, criticized, “In terms of actual execution, we are slipping into an event mode rather than a process mode. There is a sense that we are moving from one big event to another big event; moving from one very successful visit to another successful visit and not paying enough attention on the process.”
Responding to these criticisms, Chief Economic Advisor Arving Subranamian, also a part of the discussion said, the tenor of Shourie’s criticism misrepresents economic stability that “we have achieved.”
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