Although there is a serious doubt but still hoping against hope that it will prove a blessing in disguise for the economy as Manmohan Singh himself took charge of the Finance Ministry. After assessing the performance of Mr Singh as a Prime Minister in the last 8 years, it will be unrealistic to expect any major step by him as a Finance Minister. No doubt he knows the trick and has enough experience to tackle the current murky economic outlook of the nation but the question is: will he be allowed to take those tough steps required at this juncture? The answer is an obvious NO.
The people of this country are still too optimistic about Manmohan Singh turning out to be a reformer who will (as they seriously hope) will repeat the act of 1991 (when he was a finance minister in the Narsimha Rao’s government). Well, there is nothing wrong being optimistic but the situation at present is completely different from what it was then in 1991, albeit the country was in more severe economic crisis at that time than what it is in today.
In 1991, when Manmohan Singh took over as a Finance Minister under the then Prime Minister, Narasimha Rao, who was known to be a liberalizer, India was running out of foreign exchange and had to mortgage its gold reserves. The country was literally sitting on the pile of debts. Today, regardless of the hue and cry over the economic situation among different quarters, the real picture is not that grim what it used to be in the first tenure (1991-1996) of Manmohan Singh as a Finance Minister. India is still growing at the rate of more than 6 percent, which is by no means a bad growth rate keeping in view the present global economic scenario.
But, as it has always been, especially in the UPA-II regime, there is a lot of scope of reforms be it in financial sector, retail, banking or manufacturing etc. There is only one impending question - will the UPA government show the political will, seems unrealistic, to bring in economic reforms?
Sonia Gandhi has never been a great supporter of any kind of reforms, if she is concerned about anything that is welfare activities and giving away subsidies, even if they are at the cost of increasing the fiscal deficit of the country. She is again hoping that mass welfare activities (like NREGA) and loan waive-offs of farmers will make the UPA win 2014 battle and that’s why not paying heed to economic reforms.
Under the present circumstances, Manmohan will be seen playing low-key role, as he has been in the last 8 years, while Madam will have the final say, even if it will be the matter of prime minister’s comfort zone – economics. So, even the insiders of PMO hesitatingly accept that nothing big changes are on the cards as far as reforms are concerned, and even if the PM-cum-FM wishes to push one, ‘Madam Ultimate’ will say proposal overruled, Manmohan Ji.
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