Gujarat election 2007: As the battle for Gujarat gets intense, Congress party may have shot itself in the foot by dismissing World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings 2018, which was released on Tuesday. For the first time, India has found itself at the 100th spot on the coveted list that ranks 190 countries of the world. Ahead of the crucial elections in Narendra Modi’s home state, Congress has been trying to bank on the anti-GST and anti-demonetisation sentiments to make a comeback in Gujarat after over two decades. Top Congress leaders and economists, including party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, former PM Manmohan Singh and P Chidambaram have painted a gloomy picture of the state of economy. Their claims may have appeared credible to observers untill Tuesday when the World Bank report lent credence to PM Modi’s reform initiatives with the new report.
The Doing Business report didn’t consider GST rollout for the ranking this year; but by the next year, it is expected that one of the biggest tax reform in the country would help India take a further leap when the World Bank comes up with ease of doing business report 2019. For the Congress, the new ranking provided an opportunity for a course correction. Instead, the party’s top leaders thought it wise to dismiss the ranking itself – an act that has made Modi’s ‘ease of doing politics’ easier.
Speaking at a rally in south Gujarat’s district Bharuch, Rahul on today said, “Jaitley sits in his office and believes a foreign company talking of “ease of business”. Did Jaitley ji go to a small shop owner and ask what is the “ease of doing business. For this govt, what is spoken abroad is truth, but reality of India is false.”
In a tweet, senior Congress leader and Union minister Kapil Sibal took a dig at the Doing Business report, saying, “India at 100 of 190 countries in Ease of Doing Business. India at 100 of 119 countries in the Global Hunger Index. Deal with hunger too.”
In a sharp critique of the World Bank ranking, Congress on Tuesday surprised all by claiming that the “ease of doing business” in the country has become “cease of doing business” for micro, small and medium enterprises under the Modi government.
“The prime minister’s policy adventurism coupled with the adhocism of his finance minister to deliver has caused widespread economic misery and distress. “With great responsibility, we would like to say that Jaitley has proved to be the worst FM in India’s history. Hiding behind the World Bank reports will not alter this grim reality,” Congress spokesperson RS Surjewala said in a statement.
Having “failed” India’s economy by sheer adhocism and inexperience, the BJP government is allegedly clutching at straws to stay afloat as it sinks the economy and hurts trade and businesses, Surjewala further said, adding, “The hurriedly convened press conference by the finance minister today to seek ‘manufactured relevance’ from the report evidences the actual distance from ground realities and suffering of people of India.”
— PMO India (@PMOIndia) November 1, 2017
In contrast to the Congress claim, the World Bank report said that India, which was ranked 130th among 190 nations of the world in 2016, is “one of the top 10 improvers in this year’s assessment, having implemented reforms in 8 out of 10 ‘doing business’ indicators,” it said.
Though GST rollout was not taken into consideration for the ease of doing business ranking this year, the World Bank report stamped the effectiveness of other reform measures taken by Modi government in the last three years for making it easy for all to do business in India. The report said India’s ranking reflected nearly half of the 37 reforms, adopted since 2003, implemented in the last four years.
In a Linkedin post, PM Modi celebrated the Doing Business ranking, saying, “It is a matter of great pride that India has leapt 30 ranks over its rank of 130 in the Doing Business Report 2017… This is the highest leap seen on this list. This historic jump in ‘Ease of Doing Business’ rankings is the outcome of all-round & multi-sectoral reform push of Team India.”
As Modi is set to hit the campaign trail in Gujarat, Congress has given him another issue to attack the Grand Old Party. The Congress had done something similar during Uttar Pradesh elections earlier this year by dismissing the CSO data on GDP of the third quarter of FY 2016-17.