Former Union Minister and senior BJP leader Arun Shourie criticised the incumbent Narendra Modi-led Central government over its economic policies and in particular the style of functioning of Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). Speaking at a book release event in the national capital on Monday, Shourie said that the present government believes that managing economy means “managing the headlines”.
“There is clearer belief (in the present dispensation) that managing economy means managing the headlines and this is not really going to work,” he said.
Former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, who was among the guests at the event, came in for a surprising yet a big praise by the senior BJP leader.
“Doctor Singh (Manmohan Singh) ko log yaad karne lag gaye hain (People have started recalling the days of Manmohan Singh)…. People say, at least Dr Singh was wise,” Arun Shouries said adding, “the way to characterise policies of the government is — Congress plus a cow…. Policies are the same”.
Once an all-powerful Disinvestment minister in Atal Bihari Vajpaye-led NDA government’s cabinet, Arun Shourie criticised the “functioning” of the current PMO claiming “I feel there was never a weaker a 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 domain expertise, that Brajesh Mishra had, LK Jha had, all these principal secretaries had, then things get stuck,” Arun Shourie said.
Meanwhile, reacting to Mr. Shourie’s remarks, Union minister Venkaiah Naidu said it his personal opinion, which was different from what people think.
“We are a democracy, he (Shourie) has his opinion, but the country’s opinion is different,” Mr. Naidu said dismissing Arun Shourie’s remarks.
Earlier on Monday, targeting the economic policies of the Modi government, Arun Shouriefurther claimed that lot needs to be addressed on tax administration and the banking sector reforms.
“If you see impediments that were there in tax administration, virtually no change… Banking reform has been delayed by year and a half for no reason. So therefore this tortoise is very generous metaphor. Ye to so hi jata hai (this tortoise goes to sleep),” Mr. Shourie said elaborating further.
But the most surprising criticism came when Arun Shourie, also a World Bank economist, claimed that the industrialists are afraid of speaking against the present government.
“The industrialists who meet the Prime Minister don’t speak whole truth. After meeting PM, they wonder what is happening and say ‘please do something’. And in front of media they give the government 9 out of 10,” he claimed.
Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subranamian and former Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran too were among the guest in an event organised to launch the book written by senior journalist TN Ninan.
Strongly defending Modi government’s policies and economic initiatives, Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian said that India is one of unique development models – “a precautious development model” – in both economic and political sense.
“India is a country which is not following normal economic development model…India is growing by defying its comparative advantage,” Mr. Subramanian said adding, “We have lots of space to grow using our cheap labour. If we don’t do stupid things then we can grow very rapidly.”
(With inputs from the PTI)