Saturday, January 18, 2014

BJP leaders tell "PM Narender Bhai" about the challenges that lie before him because PM Manmohan Singh is leaving behind an economy in tatters

The BJP is quite confident that it will come to power, and this was quite evident on the first day of the party's national council meeting at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi on Saturday. Arun Jaitley moving the economic resolution told "Narender Bhai" that the economy would pose difficult challenges once when he (Narender Modi) takes over as prime minister. The same emphasis on "prime minister Narender Bhai" was made by Murli Manohar Joshi and Nitin Gadkari as well. The three were agreed that the UPA under economist prime minister Manmohan Singh is leaving for the BJP in May this year is one that is in a bad, very bad condition. But the tone of unanimity ends there.

The advice on the economy that Jaitley, Joshi and Gadkari had to offer was interestingly different from each other. Jaitley looked the big picture and said that agriculture contributes to 16 per cent of the GDP but 60 per cent are dependent on it. He said that unless people are moved out of agriculture and into manufacturing and services, most people would remain poor. He said that the share of manufacturing has to go up to 25 per cent of the GDP from the present 16 per cent so that more jobs are created, and those moving out of agriculture can find employment.

Joshi faulted Manmohan Singh for depending on FDI, and he argued that there is enough potential in domestic investment. He said that the BJP government would overturn the UPA decision of allowing FDI into multi-brand retail. He said that the country should decide where it needs FDI. He has also said that the decade between 2004 and 2014 has been one of economic disaster under Manmohan Singh. He said that the "peace agreement" at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Bali was a disaster because it restricted the subsidy that the government can give to farmers and in providing food security to people as it (the government) would be buying from farmers at a higher minimum support price (MSP) and giving it to the people at a lower price, and this is seen by the WTO as distorting world food prices. He said this kind of conditionality compromised the economic sovereignty of the country, and this is not acceptable.

Joshi has also the interesting argument expenditure in defense sector contributes to people's development welfare like building roads in border areas. Gadkari argued for biofuels and he also said that one of the aims to be stated in the BJP's vision document -- he is heading the committee for preparing the vision document -- is to remove poverty, and that people should be made self-reliant so that they do not depend on the state for help, and he would want to see a day when there would be no need for food security provisions. He was also for increasing exports and decrease in imports.

It is an interesting policy polyphony in the BJP, at least with regard to the economy. Party president Rajnath Singh is all for farmers and he feels that they should get the right price for their produce. The BJP is sure that the economy under the UPA and Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi and the National Advisory Council (NAC) has become irremediable. But there is no unanimity on what is the kind of economy that the BJP wants to build for the country. The BJP leaders are claiming that they have the remedies but that they are no claiming that those remedies will work.

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