Former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh is of the view that incumbent Modi government has not been able to provide the governance that was expected of the mandate it got. In an interview to the prominent news and current affairs magazine – India Today — Dr. Singh opined his worries over the under-performance of the Indian economy, lack of confidence among the business community, as well as the Pakistan policy adopted by BJP-led NDA government.
The former Prime Minister also criticised the central government, which is nearing a completion of its second year in office, for not reaching out “enough” to the principal opposition party – the Congress.
“I have had the opportunity to talk to the PM once or twice and I have told him that he has to reach out to the Opposition much more effectively… There has been no serious discussion with the Congress, whether it is on foreign policy or domestic policy, and even on the GST,” Dr. Singh told the magazine.
“…unless and until the government establishes some rapport with Soniaji and Rahul, the Congress party cannot be taken for granted. You cannot have a situation where you foist cases like the National Herald…,” he added replying strongly to the question if Modi government is reaching out enough to the Opposition in Parliament.
Incidentally, the remarks have come with less than a fortnight to go for the first leg of Parliament’s Budget session starting February 23. Centre is already anticipating stormy sittings over the issues of Dalit scholar’s suicide in Hyderabad Central University, agrarian crises, rising food grain prices among others.
Speaking on state of the economy, Dr. Singh remarked that even though situation today is much more “favourable” than in the time of Congress-led UPA government, the economy is not in a good shape.
“For example, oil prices had at the time gone up to USD 150 a barrel, today they are close to USD30 a barrel. This has significantly helped India’s balance of payments…the government is not able to get its act together to persuade the business community to take advantage of these fortuitous circumstances to step up the rate of investment at home,” the former Prime Minister explained.
“Today it seems to me that there is a lack of confidence within the business community….When they talk to the civil servants, they tell them they don’t know who the boss is,” he added.
Talking at length about the foreign policies of the incumbent, he said though the relations with some major powers have “improved”, Modi government’s Pakistan policy has been “inconsistent”.
“Modi government has been inconsistent. It went out of its way to invite Nawaz Sharif for the prime minister’s swearing-in ceremony, which was a good move. But the advantage that should have been taken from that move did not materialise because the Modi government made it conditional that the Pakistani government could not talk to the Hurriyat, and so the talks were cancelled,” he said.
“…certainly we don’t recognise that it (Hurriyat) is the only entity which can deal with the problems of Jammu & Kashmir. But there is no harm in talking to them. Even the previous government, Atalji’s government, was talking to them,” Dr. Singh replied to the question on NDA government’s response to Hurriyat.
On the question of PM Modi’s surprise trip to Lahore on way back from Afghanistan, Dr. Manmohan Singh said, “If you are not sure about the outcome of your initiative, I think you are wasting the levers of power that you have regarding Pakistan. So I don’t think that the PM thought it through”.
The former Prime Minister, who in the later part of his 10-year tenure faced flak for not speaking enough, accused his successor of being silent on the issues like Dadri lynching, Muzaffarnagar violence and the debate on rising intolerance in the country.
“He (Modi) is the prime minister of all the people of India and he must give every Indian the confidence that in him we have a prime minister who cares for our well-being,” he stressed.
Touching upon the corruption issues – 2G spectrum allocation, coal allocation, CWG, which dented the Congress party and his government heavily in the later part of its tenure, the former PM said it will always remain a “sore point” with him that the Parliament was never given an opportunity to objectively examine what the situation was, though he expressed a strong belief that the history will treat him “better” than the present.