Former prime minister Manmohan Singh may be right in questioning the NDA government’s optimistic projections of growth pick up due to the steps taken during the one year rule of Narendra Modi-led government at the meeting of Congress chief ministers, but he must also introspect on what happened in the 10 years of the UPA regime. The biggest mistake committed during the UPA time was a projection of a 10% growth (as per the old GDP growth series) in a sustained manner.
Most of the problems being faced by the government and the industry today and in the last few years is because they took the 10% growth as given and based their future plans according to that. Though Manmohan Singh realized early in the UPA-II period that global situation was expected to be tough in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis and an impending sluggish recovery prospects, he could not convey this to the stakeholders in the manner he should have been and also failed to compel different wings of his government to take adequate measures to tackle growth slowdown.
Thanks to the scams that broke one after another, and measures like retrospective tax of 2012, the investment and growth scenario took a hard beating. Former PM Singh must remember that from there, everybody and who else can know better than him, knew, getting back to a normal situation is not an easy task.
Clearly, when he says that Narendra Modi is an “adept salesman”, “event manager” and a better communicator than him, it should be seen as more of an acceptance of his failure to do this than a backhanded compliment.
The larger point is while calling the Modi government’s steps a repackaging of the UPA policies – it is true that the NDA has adopted the UPA’s direct benefit transfer (DBT) and is pushing those policies that were stuck in the UPA regime, including Goods and Services Tax (GST) – Manmohan Singh must not forget UPA also reaped the benefits of good work done by the previous NDA government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee which helped in attaining higher GDP growth in the early years of the UPA tenure.
So rather than pulling the wrong strings, based on his experience, the former prime minster will do well by pointing out the Modi government in areas where it is going wrong.
The taxman remains as high-handed as ever, the companies are yet to gain confidence that things will improve in terms of ease of doing business and invest, and foreign investors are still confused on the FDI policies in different areas like the retail sector.
Hopefully, he shared some of his experiences on why he failed with prime minister Narendra Modi when he met him recently. If he has not, he must do so. That might be of some help.