Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's husband Parakala Prabhakar has said that the government is in denial mode about the economic slowdown. In a column for The Hindu, Prabhakar has said that while sector after sector is facing a rather challenging situation, the BJP government is yet to "show signs that it has come to grips with what ails the economy".
In a critique of the BJP government, Prabhakar said that there is very little evidence to show that the BJP government has a strategic vision to address the challenges. Explaining the problem with the government's ways of handling the crisis, Prabhakar added that BJP has an "inexplicable reluctance" to develop its "own coherent set of ideas about the country's economy".
He said that while the rejection of the Nehruvian ideas of socialism has always been clear with the BJP, but its own advocacy can at best be "loosely termed as capitalist, free market framework", which has remained untested in practice. "The party's economic ideology and its articulation were limited to mainly critiquing the Nehruvian model from the fringes of the political spectrum," he mentioned in the column.
"The issues that catapulted the party on to the centre stage of the country's political discourse and then to the seats of power both in the Centre and in various States had little to do with the articulation of an economic road map and its endorsement by the electorate. Nor did the economic direction the country ought to take figure as a serious point of debate and discussion at any point in the highest platforms of the party," Prabhakar said. He said that the present leadership of the party was aware that the party was not identified with a distinct economic philosophy and hence, did not offer the party's economic performance as a claim for re-election. "It instead chose, wisely, a muscular political, nationalist, security platform," he added.
In rather sharp words, Prabhakar said that the BJP's attack on Nehruvian economic framework is nothing more than a political assault and "can never graduate to an economic critique".
In the column he suggests the BJP leadership to take a leaf out of PV Narasimha Rao-Manmohan Singh's economic policy. "The path-breaking repositioning ushered in by P.V. Narasimha Rao and his economic amanuensis Manmohan Singh remains unchallenged even today. Almost every political party that formed the government, took part in governance, or lent outside support to the government at the Centre since then embraced that repositioning," he said.
"A full-fledged embrace and an aggressive pursuit of it even now could provide the BJP and the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi a lodestar to steer the economy out of the choppy waters it is in at present," he concluded.