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SAGA CORNER

Swamy’s barbs continue. Will he harm developmental goals of the Modi Govt.?

“Having become a nominated BJP Rajya Sabha member recently, the maverick Subramanian Swamy can be more than a handful as a trouble shooter. He manages to remain in the limelight and revels in particularly targeting the dynastic Nehru-Gandhi family of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, her son and party vice president Rahul Gandhi along with daughter Priyanka and her husband Robert Vadra. This eminently suits the BJP’s top leadership who have no love lost for the country’s first political family.Ironically, he has been a friend of Sonia Gandhi and a bitter enemy of the BJP in the past. He has the dubious distinction of pulling down the Atal Behari Vajpayee government in 1999 when he brought Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa and Sonia Gandhi together over coffee. His rabid anti-Congressism has secured him a seat in the Rajya Sabha recently at the end of April.When the irrepressible Swamy gets close to anyone as evidenced with Jayalalithaa not very long back, her trouble began with cases of corruption being launched against her. It is an entirely different matter that he has suddenly gone quiet on that front perhaps on account of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amma being close friends.Dr Swamy is associated with a lobby in the saffron brigade gunning for Arun Jaitley’s head since he became the union Finance minister in the Modi government. It is, therefore, not surprising when Congress leader Digvijaya Singh is thinking aloud if Swamy, an economist to boot, is angling for the Finance portfolio in union council of ministers even if that is unlikely to happen.Mr. Modi is not Vajpayee and is unlikely to bat an eyelid in sidelining Swamy or sending him to the cooler if he becomes overambitious or even remotely poses a threat to the present regime. A case in point is how BJP elder statesman and former Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani as well as Murli Manohar Joshi being summarily sidelined and pushed to a corner as “”marg darshak”” or revered advisors.Dr. Swamy may have attacked Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan demanding his dismissal and the Modi government looked the other way without coming to his defence. Even before Rajan took up the the job of RBI Governor during the Congress led UPA regime, he had made it abundantly clear he was here for the short haul as he desired returning to academia. He resigned in keeping with his plans and will call it quits on fourth of September when his three-year-term ends.Dr. Swamy then launched an attack against NDA government’s chief economic advisor Arvind Subramanian from “”Washington DC””. Jaitley wasted no time in backing the CEA rebuffing Swamy suitably. That is not going to deter Swamy who has made his intentions clear that he would soon be demanding the head of 27 others holding senior positions in the government who are not serving the interests of the country. Simply put, Swamy believes these officers are not in sync with the policies of the Modi government. There is unlikely to be a dull moment for the NDA government with Swamy working overtime to haul over the coals those who are inimical to the Modi government.Swamy reacted quickly saying it did not matter what Jaitley says as he is directly in touch with the Prime Minister and BJP president Amit Shah when required. Be that as it may, the quickfire announcements made on June 20 is aimed at lessening the blow of Rajan’s resignation which was not unexpected in the wake of the personal attacks against him by the Sangh Parivar. This is the second opening up exercise of the economy since November last year.Foreign investors are interested in India is evident with a 23 per cent surge in FDI touching a record $ 55 billion. Many in the corporate sector and opposition parties felt Rajan deserved a second term. Rajan had made it clear at the very beginning that he was not in this country for the long haul.Nobody is indispensable in public life and the need of the hour is to find a successor able to retain the credibility that Rajan had brought to the RBI. As the world integrates financial instability is a huge challenge. Before bidding adieu he hopes to complete “”unfinished tasks”” on hand.  His achievements are manifold. Inflation has halved. His role in stabilising the Rupee in September 2013 when the Indian economy faced a 2001 like foreign exchange crisis was noteworthy.The long overdue cleaning up of bank balance sheets has got underway. Foreign exchange reserves have shot up to help this country deal with global shocks. The significance of what has been done in the last three years during his stewardship of the central bank cannot be undermined. The Modi government’s uneasiness stems from its monetary policy which it believes is an important reason for the economy not taking off as fast as it could have. The slow pace of interest rate cuts was another irritant for the Modi regime. Although RBI cut rates by 1.5 percentage points since last year, private investment is just not happening. The RBI forcing others to acknowledge had loans rather than dabbling in giving away more good money has led to record losses since 2015 across the public sector banking system. This has been a source of friction between the government and Rajan.His exit is another instance of brilliance being pushed over by mediocrity. Lip service in undertaking reforms is one thing but actually getting down to the cleansing job is bound to create a delicate situation for the government. FDI investors had found India to be the best destination globally. One wonders if that will continue to remain so when Rajan bids adieu to the RBI in September. Among his tasks is making public the list of wilful defaulters. “”The list is being drawn up and we hope to put it on our website where everyone can see it,”” he said in a television interview.He cautioned that the RBI would have to be careful about the names on the list because not all loan defaulters are wilful or involved in any sort of malfeasance. “”Business had hit a wall because of the economic downturn and unable to pay back loans would not be named and shamed.””The RBI has flagged the challenges for sustaining India’s economic momentum: global growth is uneven and struggling to gain traction, world trade is floundering for want of demand, the US is weighed down by contracting industrial activity as exports, deflationary pressures are building in Japan, and the slowdown in China shows no signs of reversing. Besides if Britain leaves the European Union there is a real risk of “”some turmoil in the financial markets.””Eventually the central bank can only do so much in the end. Amid all this there is talk of increasing the term of RBI Governors from the existing three years to at least five years if not more. The argument is if the Lok Sabha has a five year term as also the the government at the centre and those in the states, then the RBI Governor’s term should also be for at least five years.In this a pointer to the Modi government facing a certain talent crunch inhibiting it from delivering its development goals even after completing two years in office. There is discernible frustration in the government as the the much touted slogan of “”aache din aane wale hai”” seems like a mirage even after it completed two years in office.(T R Ramachandran is a senior journalist and commentator. Views are personal.)

By TIS Staffer
the authorBy TIS Staffer

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