Gita Gopinath Kerala row: ‘Intellectuals of Kerala will not accept advice’

By: | Published: July 27, 2016 5:51 AM

Marxist economist and Kerala state planning board's former vice-chairman Prabhat Patnaik has also joined the debate over the appointment of Harward economist Gita Gopinath as advisor to Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

Gita Gopinath, Gita Gopinath news, Gita Gopinath Harvard, Gita Gopinath Pinarayi Vijayan, Gita Gopinath Pinarayi Vijayan adviserPatnaik has cautioned the state government against falling “into the trap” of neo-liberal economic policies that the John Zwaanstra Professor of International Studies and Economics represents.

Marxist economist and Kerala state planning board’s  former vice-chairman Prabhat Patnaik has also joined the debate over the appointment of Harward economist Gita Gopinath as advisor to Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

Patnaik has cautioned the state government against falling “into the trap” of neo-liberal economic policies that the John Zwaanstra Professor of International Studies and Economics represents.

“Intellectuals of Kerala will not accept such advice,” said Patnaik. “The Left Democratic Front (LDF) government should not fall into the trap of new economic development strategies,” he has told a leading Malayalam daily, making his stand clear on the new appointment.

Interestingly, Prof Patnaik was widely expected to serve the LDF government as vice-chairman of state planning board but the chief minister has chosen Prof VK Ramachandran of Indian Statistical Institute, Bengaluru, for the job.

Patnaik had served as the vice-chairman during 2006-2011, under the VS Achuthanandan government. “Neo-liberal economic strategies are against the interests of the common people and anti-labour,” said Patnaik.

Earlier, CPI, which is a partner of the CPI(M)-led ruling alliance, has been sceptic about the entry of an economist supporting neo-liberal reforms to Kerala’s development picture. Senior CPI leaders voiced doubts that the CM’s move might have aimed at hedging the popularity of finance minister TM Thomas Isaac.

“In any case, why should Pinarayi Vijayan go for the unprecedented move to create the post of financial advisor to CM when the state Cabinet has its finance minister. Secondly, what can a person who has expertise in international finance do to help a state government?” they said.

At the same time, sources close to the CM told FE that Prof Gopinath will serve the state government without accepting any fee and her appointment will be coterminus with the CM’s tenure.

However, CPI(M) politburo members have dismissed speculation that the party central leadership has sought explanation from Pinarayi Vijayan. “It is an administrative and policy measure of the Kerala government and the chief minister is entitled to decide on who should be appointed. It is not who advises, what matters is whether the advice is in line with the party’s policy,” said a politburo member.

Though wary of making public comments,  young CPI(M) leaders see the infusion of fresh think-tanks to the left policy-planning machinery as a welcome sign of flexibility.

Opposition leader in Kerala Ramesh Chennithala has been among the first to flay the rationale of the appointment. He pointed out that advice from a professor of neo-liberal economics would be contrary to the policy expressed in the election manifesto that brought LDF to power. “Wouldn’t it be a major breach of voters’ confidence to stray from the manifesto?” he asked.

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