Eleventh Hour Economics

With general elections no more than a couple of months away, the India’s grand old Congress Party is contemplating the question of a command-economy vs globalisation and is yet to make up its mind!

But party sources said it was clear that the command-economy versus globalisation debate that had been going on in the party for some time, was far from settled.

The competing tendencies in the party are represented by second rung leaders like Jairam Ramesh who argue that the party must be forward-looking and must look to creating new constituencies for itself while retaining the vote banks.

This means targeting specific groups formed in the wake of economic reforms and claiming with pride, the credit for economic reforms.

But others including Aiyar and Arjun Sengupta feel that the greatest mistake of the Congress has been to lose track of the poverty agenda.[Rediff/Business Standard]

The very fact that they speak of a “poverty” agenda rather than a “development” agenda demonstrates its misplaced priorities.

Supporters of Manmohan Singh argue that there can be no debate on economic reforms — that is tantamount to questioning the Congress’ commitment to liberalisation from 1991.

But there are votaries of a middle path who feel the party must not be blown away by the winds of liberalisation.

Addressing the Confederation of India Industry, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi had spelt out priorities of the party that strongly emphasised the middle path.

The party was for accelerating employment generation, making public enterprises in strategic areas stronger and continuing food subsidies, she had said. It was for transparent privatisation.

She had said while the mixed economy was an article of faith for the Congress, the party was for freeing enterprise from control — not letting the government lose control. [Rediff/Business Standard]

There is not a “scintilla of evidence” that the Congress party has an economic agenda designed for 21st century India. Sonia Gandhi’s Congress party’s failings mean that an electorate has to choose a BJP with all its warts. The Congress should have packaged its secular social agenda with a progressive economic one; instead it has mortgaged its secularist credentials while its economic agenda is in a shambles. Its quite sad that the ideological bankruptcy of the Congress make it unfit to even sit in the Opposition.