PM, Sonia not on same page, says BJP
Claiming that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and United Progressive Alliance Chairperson Sonia Gandhi are not on the same page, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday said government has to be large-hearted and not act as "big brother" for creating a political consensus, which is key to economic reforms.
"If you need a political consensus, government has to be big-hearted. You cannot continue to act like the big brother," Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley said initiating the debate in the Rajya Sabha on the Appropriation Bill moved by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
Questioning the political structure of the UPA, Jaitley said, "The prime minister cannot be a CEO merely implementing decisions by the board... he must be vested with authority and confidence."
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Image: Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley
'Prime minister must act with authority'
Unlike UPA-I, where the twin leadership was on the same page, in UPA-II they appear to be on different pages, even ideologically, Jaitley said.
He said even on issues like FDI in retail, there was not a single statement from the UPA Chairman and there was no consensus even within UPA constituents. "Before we can be told, please develop consensus within the UPA," Jaitley said.
Mukherjee has been stating that it was the lack of political consensus and disruption of Parliament which have blocked key economic issues.
Jaitley said support of the opposition parties at the Centre cannot be ensured if non-Congress states are discriminated in the matters of allocation of coal blocks.
Also, several of the state level legislations are pending the governor's clearance. He said the roadmap for a political consensus can be laid by a prime minister who "must act with authority".
Jaitley, however, was all praise for Mukherjee who has played a trouble-shooter for the government on several contentious issues.
Jaitley said that unlike other Congress leaders, Mukherjee, who holds regular consultations with opposition leaders, was an exception. "Finance minister, you have been the exception in this UPA government," he said.
He said for a government to run, it needs to have an aura and credibility to build its authority. The Leader of Opposition said the UPA Government lacked this aura.
On the FDI issue, Jaitley said the decision has been suspended not because there was a national opposition but due to a division within the UPA.
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'Govt has failed to inspire external and internal players'
He said the Indian manufacturing sector required a number of reforms and it would be ill-advised to open the retail sector "we can implement effective reforms to reduce the cost of our own manufacturing".
Jaitley said during the NDA regime, Congress leader Priya Ranjan Dashmunshi had opposed FDI in retail calling it "anti-national" and the government at that time had not allowed it.
Expressing concern over the declining levels of FDI in-flow in the country, Jaitley said a situation had arisen where even Indian corporates were also looking for better avenues for investments.
He said the government has failed to inspire both external and internal players to invest in the Indian economy.
Jaitley said the economic figures don't generate much hope about the economy and there were several indicators which suggested that the economy would be in its "grimmest" situation in the post-liberalisation era.
He said hike in interest rates has had an impact on several sectors including manufacturing and housing, and feared that it will have a cascading effect on prices and hit job creation.