Nehru is Congress answer to economic meltdown,for the BJP it’s Mahatma

The world may be struggling to find ways out of the global economic crisis but closer to home,in the run-up to the general elections.....

D K Singh & Vivek Deshpandenew Delhi Nagpur | Published: February 7, 2009 1:02:13 am

The world may be struggling to find ways out of the global economic crisis but closer to home,in the run-up to the general elections,the Congress and the BJP each claim they have found an answer: Jawaharlal Nehru,for the Congress,and for the BJP,none other than the Mahatma himself.

So barely weeks after Congress President Sonia Gandhi invoked her mother-in-law Indira Gandhi’s “wisdom” to nationalize banks saying that it saved India’s financial institutions from the current crisis,the ruling party at the Centre has recommended the Nehruvian economic model of “financial conservatism.”

And at its national executive in Nagpur today,BJP president Rajnath Singh called for the need to think of a model based on the “principles of Mahatma Gandhi. and Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay.”

While few in the BJP were willing to flesh out such a “model,” both the rival were united in their condemnation of capitalism.

Terming the global crisis “a consequence of the rampant and aggressive profiteering” that has become the cornerstone of economic policy in the developed world in the last decade,the Congress’s mouthpiece Sandesh says in its latest issue that the financial crisis has proved once again that “unbridled economic freedom without checks and balances” will always lead to higher demands for return on capital for private enterprise.

This freedom when wrongly used by institutions,which control policy and large public finance,will always lead to economic disaster and exploitation.

“We in India will also have to prepare for the consequences of this global crisis. It is in times like these that we realize that India is better off having followed the policies of our founding fathers,particularly Shri Jawaharlal Nehru,of financial conservatism and state control over large avenues of public finance. Without these,we would surely have been swept away in this flood of global financial failure,” the ruling party said.

Incidentally,only a fortnight ago,AICC General Secretary Rahul Gandhi had sought to question the relevance of Nehruvian model of economy in today’s context. Replying to a query about the current recession and the Nehruvian model of economy,he had suggested that if his great grandfather were alive today,he would also have thought differently.

“I have read quite a lot of his books,personal letters and speeches. One thing I am very clear is of his being open to correction. What was good during his period may not be the same for our times. And I am sure he would have appreciated it,” he was quoted as having said.

In Nagpur,BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad claimed the BJP never favoured capitalism. “We were against licence-permit raj,but were never supporters of capitalism. Unbridled consumerism is born out of capitalism and it is worrisome. Global economic meltdown is a failure of capitalism,” Prasad said.

In his speech,Rajnath Singh said: “The fall of communism and now crisis of capital in the entire world shows that time has come to act in accordance with what Bapu said 100 years ago. We have to think of a model for India based on the principles of Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya. By explaining the ideas of Gandhi in accordance with the current age,the economists can present Indian economic model of development before the world.”

Singh said despite the trinity of economic experts in the UPA — Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,then Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia — the economic crisis has intensified. “Chidambaram earlier said India’s fundamentals are strong and India will not look back despite the global meltdown. Now they say the Indian crisis could be on account of global recession,” Singh said.

“Seventy percent of India’s population is the youth. For their real development,we can’t have a model based only on materialism as in the western world. Gandhi had realised this hundred years ago,” Singh said. “In my opinion,Gandhian values are becoming more and more relevant today at social,diplomatic and economic levels,” he said.

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