The way the Chief Economic Advisor of the Ministry of Finance, Kaushik Basu, expressed his concerns during US visit over the slow pace of Economic Reforms in the country and holding the coalition politics and rampant corruption responsible for this situation expressed fear that it would probably continue till 2014, revealing once again that UPA government has completely surrendered before its allies and it has compromised even the national interest without any hitch.

Though, later Kaushik Basu tried to defuse the tension by calling his statement as his personal opinion, but this is not going to help because nobody is going to take his statement lightly when he is the Chief Economic Advisor of the Union Ministry of Finance. Whether his views are of the reflection of the government’s stand or personal, they have the same importance. This is not the first time when the UPA government’s helplessness has been conceded. On several occasions in the second term of the UPA government, it has been observed that owing to the impediment created by the allies, the smooth functioning of the government has been badly hampered. The way Kaushik Basu accused alliance politics creating hinderance to the pace of economic reforms, similar kind of statements have been also made by the Prime Minister in the past. The kind of role which was played by the left parties supporting the UPA government during its first innings, is now being discharged by the Trinamool Congress, a part of the present dispensation at Centre. It seems that the West Bengal parties have incorporated in their agenda to impede the process of economic reforms. It is the outcome of the pressure made by UPA allies that the recent Union Budget had no enthusiasm for the economic reforms. In his subsequent clarification, Kaushik Basu said that he was mainly talking about the possibilities of economic crisis in Europe in 2014, as it does pose a challenge for India on the economic fronts. The economic chaos is being anticipated for 2014 in Europe and in the wake of such thought the preparatory measures which are required to be undertaken by India to cope up with the situation, are not being done as yet.

Kaushik Basu’s statement has provided enough avenue to the opposition parties to target the dispensation at the Centre which is quite natural. But it is a matter of fact that even opposition parties find it difficult to explain how to deal with the unnecessary pressure being exerted by the allies on the government. Given the present political scenario in the country this question bears even greater significance as no political party seems to be going to win the next general election on account of its own strength. The NDA led by BJP considers itself an alternative to the UPA, but the fact can’t be ignored that when NDA was in power, it also faced with the similar kind of problems which are confronted by the present UPA regime. An Alliance politics in the country has emerged as the synonym of political bargain and politics of pressure and the parties leading alliances are forced to make a big deal of compromises. The worst outcome of this tradition is that the party leading the alliance has to give away its fundamental agenda and the pace of reforms necessary to serve our national interests is badly hampered. During NDA regime, the BJP had to shun its basic agenda of Ramjanma Bhumi issue, Article-370 and Uniform Civil Code as its allied partners had objections on these issues.

As far as the challenges on the economic front are concerned, a mere discussion on these issues is not enough. Europe is heading towards economic crisis which is bound to affect the world economy. If India does not want to be affected by the crisis, it will have to carry forward the economic reforms which can be made possible only when the ruling party shows some courage to do this. Kaushik Basu’s views about the reforms can’t be overlooked that owing to rampant corruption the bureaucracy will not take any initiative in this regard.

The differences of opinion among the political parties are quite natural, but it doesn’t mean that they can’t evolve a consensus on the issues of national interest. If such a consensus is not reached, it will be difficult for the nation to move forward with its full potential. It is no wonder, in order to grab power, the political parties are not only making hurdles for each other but they are also intentionally hindering the pace of reforms required  for the progress of the nation. Political parties ought to evolve a consensus on economic reforms and social programmes on priority basis. If it doesn’t happen, then a new trend will start in the country to review the economic reforms and social programmes with a change in government. It is unfortunate that political parties are not ready to allow the political reforms or constitutional amendments necessary for dealing with the loopholes of the alliance politics. In the changed political circumstances, it is highly required to define the government’s ways of functioning. However all the experts have given their opinions on these issues, nothing was enacted till now. Whether it is the question of ensuring a full five years term to the government or ban the post-poll alliances or framing the norms for alliances, the parties are avoiding to take a call on these issues because they are more concerned about their own political interests instead the national interest.

The important points mentioned by Kaushik Basu about the UPA government’s helplessness on economic front, need to be dealt by the political parties instead of him. It will be better if the ruling parties avoid to reject his statement and the opposition parties should also stop targetting the government on the basis of Basu’s statements rather they should agree how exactly it has to be done to protect our national interests from becoming a victim of the coalition politics. If this is not possible then he will have to come forward for  proper treatment to the serious ailment of the Indian politics. Political parties need to evolve a consensus on the issue of economic reforms prior to the  European crisis that begins to affect Indian economy.

(An original copy of the article published in Hindi on April 22, 2012 translated by the English Editorial. The author is Group Editor of Dainik Jagran)