Parentage Of India Shining

Updated: Feb 24 2004, 05:30am hrs
The Congress Party is being needlessly coy about the parentage of India Shining. If the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) can claim it is the mother of India Shining, the Congress Party can rightfully claim that it is the father!

After all, much of the good news from the economy is a result of the NDA government extending the reform programme initiated by previous Congress governments, especially the government of Prime Minister Narasimha Rao.

The Congress shyness in claiming ownership of the reform programme may, in part, be because of the ideological rift within the party on economic policies, but it could also be a reflection of the partys current leaderships unwillingness to give too much credit to the Narasimha Rao- Manmohan Singh team.

There is nothing new about this streak of self-denial in the Congress Party under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi. When Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee decided to conduct nuclear tests in May 1998 and declare India a nuclear weapons power, a misguided Congress leadership criticised Mr Vajpayee for his hawkish policy rather than take credit for the role played by Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi in enabling Indias nuclear status.

Rather than claim that there is no feel good feeling in the economy today or that India is not shining, the Congress would be better advised to take due credit for its role in pushing policies that have today enabled India to become a stronger economy and an important global power.

The partys national leaders who decry the feel good and the India Shining campaigns seem to forget that their party is in power in some of the really feel good states and the incumbents there can only benefit from voters optimism. The point that Congress ought to be making is that there are few good things that the NDA has done in its six years in power that its governments had not, in fact, first started. This will enable a welcome consensus on economic policies in the campaign itself. Clearly, the Congress must re-think its strategy of mounting a negative campaign and seek to put forward an alternative positive platform that it can claim will make India shine brighter and feel more good. The party seems to have forgotten that the only time the Indian economy notched upwards of 7 per cent growth for three years in a row was when it was last in government!