Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, resigned on 26th June to file his papers for President. That gave speculators all the freedom to indulge in wild dreams. The new Finance Minister is expected to usher in all the reforms, strengthen the rupee against the US dollar, contain inflation, boost investment, open retail trade for multi-brand FDI, slow down the GAAR, achieve higher growth rate and increase the GDP. As the Prime Minister, Man Mohan Singh kept the finance portfolio with himself, it added further to the joy and aspirations of the speculators, for he had earlier worked as Indian Finance Minister and credited with the reforms in India- a claim not backed by facts (My book on this site refers).The friendly media has gone overboard to paint a rosy picture, even though it knows the restricted space for Man Mohan Singh to make any move.
Had Man Mohan Singh been in true command of governance in India, the ordinary people would not have suffered so much! He was never allowed to initiate policies independently. It is, therefore, doubtful if he will be allowed to think and act too revolutionary for the future generations to remember him as a great Prime Minister. Man Mohan Singh has opponents not only outside the Congress Party but also in his own party itself. It does not take politicians in collusion with the friendly media to roll out stories making a hero or a devil of their target. Man Mohan Singh is not insulated against such insidious forays.
But greater than that is the fact that corruption is not going to disappear in the next 24 months to the parliamentary elections in May 2014. In fact, a few more horrendous scandals are expected to be exposed in the next few months. The coal blocks allocation is hanging fire and is going to prove fatal for ministers and bureaucrats alike. Moreover, funds for elections will have to be raised in the next few months, for there are rumours to the effect that elections may be called even next year itself. It will not only be the executive authority of the union government but also the state governments which will be harnessed for fund raising. So the exercise being vast, the exposures also will be large. The Prime Minister will not be able to check such horrendous loot. Consequently economic reforms or growth initiatives will be clouded by corruption and the economy will not benefit really.
Worse still, the “coalition compulsions” will perpetuate governance paralysis. The Prime Minister cannot interfere in the ministries controlled by the allies. This kind of a coalition is nothing more than a sure recipe for disaster. That is how millions of tons of food grains have been destroyed this year alone. The true portrayal of the current scenario in the country can be found in a brilliant article in the Times Of India of 29th June 2012 by Amitabh Kant titled “The Heart Of The Matter”. In the din created by the undue hype of the speculators and friendly media, this article brings out the scope for action or initiative by the Prime Minister.
The final point is: the dynamics in the Congress Party itself. The party is required to name a Leader of the House. This position is going to create a rival to Man Mohan Singh, as the person will be the Leader of the Congress Party in the Lok Sabha, for which elections will be held in 2014. If the PM and the Leader of the House operate on different wave lengths, problems are bound to crop up. These will not be simple problems. Pranab Mukherjee operated differently, but others may have their own way. Generally the Leader of the House is also the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh being an exception. In case of a member of the Nehru-Gandhi family, all the three offices are occupied by the same person. These offices are: Leader of the House, Prime Minister and President of the Congress Party. Trifurcation of the roles in the past 8 years has created its own special attributes which are likely to get sharpened in the coming days. This may not give Man Mohan Singh much scope for real action and the speculators and the Sensex may get disappointed sooner than later.
Any worthwhile action to improve and strengthen the economy demands a stout political leadership endowed with superb economic vision for the nation as a whole, which has been singularly absent in the past 8 years. Some of it deliberate, some circumstantial and the remaining due to providence only.