New Delhi: A scathing article on the state of economy by none other than Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's husband has left the BJP red-faced.
Sitharaman's husband Parakala Prabhakar, in his critique in The Hindu, has pointed out that the BJP does not have an economic framework of its own. To aggravate matters, the government remains in denial mode.
"And, while the government is still in a denial mode, data flowing uninterruptedly into the public domain shows that sector after sector is staring at a seriously challenging situation."
If that "wasn't an embarrassment enough" for a government that has been blind to economic slowdown, including a lowered GDP projection, the husband of the sitting Finance Minister has advised the Narendra Modi government to "embrace" his predecessors -- former Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and P.V. Narasimha Rao's economic model, which paved the way for liberalisation of the economy.
Saying that the BJP was "unwilling to take its eye off the Nehruvian policy framework ball, which it continues to castigate", Prabhakar said, "The party think tank fails to realise that the attack remains more a political assault and can never graduate to an economic critique."
A full-fledged embrace of the Rao-Singh economic architecture would, therefore, provide the BJP and the government led by PM Modi a lodestar to steer the economy out of the choppy waters it is in at present, points out Prabhakar.
Prabhakar is himself an economist and comes from a political family; both his parents were legislators in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly. His demand to return to Rao's model is not surprising, considering that his family was closely associated with P.V. Narasimha Rao.
In a no-holds-barred attack on the Modi government, Prabhakar alleged: "In economic policy, the party mainly adopted "Neti Neti (‘Not this, Not this'), without articulating what was its own Niti (policy)'."
The indictment is more than a hot potato, all the more so since it has come just ahead of Assembly elections in two states. Prabhakar also noted that the economic road map was not a part of the re-election bid of the BJP.
"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," he wrote.
The Congress, expectedly, lost no time in attacking the government. Congress's Bengal Unit chief Somen Mitra tweeted: "They may have mocked him for years, without having an iota of knowledge how an economy as big as that of India runs, but at the end of the day, Dr Manmohan Singh and his reform model continues to be the ultimate benchmark of development for the Indian economy."
Taking a dig at BJP's appropriation of Sardar Patel, Prabhakar also suggested that BJP could portray Narasimha Rao on the economic side, just the way it has done for Patel.
He has also insinuated, 'a muscular political, nationalist, security platform' was created to compensate the deficiency on economic front and to secure re-election.
The BJP was tight lipped about the entire saga. When contacted, a senior party functionary directed the correspondent to the media department, while two BJP spokesperson refused to comment on it, feigning ignorance. However, the Congress, which has got an endorsement from the spouse of the Union Minister, was in no mood to let go.
Pawan Khera of the Congress told IANS: "That's sane advice coming from Mr Parakala Prabhakar. Anti-Nehru cannot be the raison d'être of the BJP. They do not have their own heroes, nor their own economic vision. If they can borrow heroes from the Congress -- who found the RSS repugnant -- why not borrow its economic policies, too?"
Prabhakar, during his unsuccessful political stint, had lost an election followed by a by-poll. Later he joined BJP before leaving the saffron fold to be a part of the new political Party 'Prajarajyam' and became its founding General Secretary and spokesperson.
However, he has been a person known to ditch and hence held an infamous press briefing in Prajarajyam party office where he had launched a scathing attack on the same party he was appearing as a spokesperson of.