It was his last address at a Congress conclave as the Prime Minister and the economist in Manmohan Singh could not have skipped a mention of the highs and lows the Indian economy witnessed under his decade-long stewardship. With the slump in the economy in the last three years taking the sheen off the UPA’s governance record, Singh did not mince words in apportioning the blame for the dip in growth on the CAG and CVC.
As the Congress made it clear that the UPA government’s right-based legislations and populist measures like the MNREGA and food security initiative are going to be its campaign themes for the elections and not the economic reforms it had unveiled in the last decade, Singh was left defending his government’s record on the economic front. Addressing the AICC session, he spoke about the high growth in the economy in the first seven years.
The economy grew at 8.6 per cent during this time which is a record for a seven-year period.
“The second wave of economic crisis in 2011 slowed down our economy. The economy grew at 6.3 and 5 per cent in the last two years. This year we expect the growth to be 5 per cent. Even if we add the last two years, the economy grew on an average of 7.9 per cent. This is also a record for a nine-year period,” he said.
Singh, significantly, said the slowdown in economic growth rate was also because of several domestic reasons. “Infrastructure projects were not cleared expeditiously. Bureaucrats are hesitant to take decisions because they fear the CVC and CAG will raise questions over their decisions,” he said. Referring to corruption scandals, Singh admitted some mistakes were committed.
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Referring to the spectrum licence and coal block allocation, he said the government has now changed the system completely. “Now spectrum and coal blocks are being allocated only through auction. In future, there is no scope of corruption in these areas,” he said.
Singh said his government has not got the “credit it deserved” for its achievements. “This is because the fast-paced economic growth, social transformation and political empowerment in the last 10 years has triggered new hopes in our youth. There is greater exchange of information through the social and electronic media. People want better delivery from government agencies.
They want speedy transformation of our social, economic and political systems,” he said.
While Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi skipped the economic reform initiatives of the government, the resolution adopted at the AICC session mentioned the fact that India registered the fastest economic growth during the UPA’s time.
“The Congress applauds the performance of the Congress-led UPA government under the wise leadership of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Under Singh’s guidance over almost a decade, India successfully weathered a major global economic crisis, enjoyed the fastest economic growth in the history of independent India, made remarkable strides in fighting poverty and gained a new prestige in the world order,” it said.