In early 2011, when Aadhaar was being launched in the states, then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi had refused to let the identification system roll out in his state. Gujarat had its own citizens’ documentation system, he had said. Over the next two years, the BJP spared no effort to play down the UPA government’s pet project, and never shied of taking digs at its frontman Nandan Nilekani. Aadhaar was an exercise in futility, it had then said, and if it came to power, it would give preference to the “more logical and robust” National Population Register (NPR).
Two months into the national government, in a clear departure from that vocal rebuff, the BJP-led government has given a clear indication that Aadhaar will continue. Why, it is even giving the project more funds. Surprised? Actually, there are numerous issues (see graphic) where Narendra Modi’s government has reneged from the party’s old stand and election-time promises. The long list of U-turns includes issues like the N-liability bill, opening up the insurance sector, unearthing black money in Swiss banks and removing subsidy on diesel.
Indeed, that’s why many wryly say the NDA government thus far continues to follow the policies of its predecessor, the UPA government. “There is absolutely no difference between the BJP and the Congress as far as major policy is concerned,” says CPI(M) leader Nilotpal Basu. The most blatant of the U-turns has been that on the much- debated Henderson Brooks report on the India-China war of 1962. Parts of it had been recently posted online by Australian journalist Neville Maxwell, access to which was blocked by the UPA. As late as in March, then LoP in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley had strongly argued on his blog that the report be declassified. But recently, Jaitley, now defence and finance minister, stated in Parliament that the Brooks report was a top secret document and disclosure of any information from it would not be in the national interest. His earlier blog post suddenly can’t be accessed.
Even on the black money issue, the government’s present position is a major deviation from its earlier stand. After being extremely vocal about fishing out Indians with money stashed away in Swiss bank accounts, it is now saying that there is no list of Indians with money there and has exhorted the departments concerned to look for black money within India instead.
What has surprised many experts is that this comes despite the NDA’s huge mandate which can ensure a fast passage of any legislation they introduce. Says economist Narendar Pani, “What is surprising is the government has gone with UPA polices even when there is no compulsion to do so.” This proves, he says, that “the bulk of what they were saying was election campaign compulsions. They may not have been opposed to the issues at all”.
Take, for instance, the BJP’s stated position against any further opening up of the insurance sector to foreign direct investment. Even late last year, they had reasserted this but the government has increased the FDI limit from 26 to 49 per cent, a move the UPA had been talking about. Or the BJP’s stated stand against FDI in multi-brand retail and its promise to reverse the UPA policy when in power. That too hasn’t happened.
Obviously, the Congress and the UPA are pleased. Says former UPA minister Manish Tewari, “It only goes on to substantiate the fact that they were only interested in riding the rhetorical horse, fully knowing what the UPA did was in national interest.”
The government’s defence obviously would be that it has been in power for just two months and that much of its policies and promises are yet to be fulfilled. That may be so. After 10 years in opposition, the party may be still searching for the right talent pool. But there’s no denying a tinge of disappointment that the BJP’s actions belie the huge mandate it got. For now, it looks like more old wine in a new bottle.
Why The BJP Government Looks Like UPA-3
Opening up Insurance
Henderson Brooks Report
Nuclear Liability Bill
FDI in Multi-Brand Retail
If the NDA government has changed its mind on some issues, so what (Goody Goody Days, Aug 4)? Every individual has the right to change his mind. How can we Outlook readers forget the legendary volte-face done by our dear Vinod Mehta when NaMo got elected. And since you have passed judgement on the Modi government after just 10 weeks, why not some more—let’s have a piece on the 10 years of misrule by the UPA.
Kunal Dhulekar, Pune
I am disappointed by the general tone of the article. Living in a state like Tamil Nadu, I know how successive regimes keep pressing the ‘undo’ button as soon as they replace the previous regime, giving no mind to whether a said policy was for the public good or not. Does Outlook want the country to be run like that?
R. Shankar Narayanan, Chennai
So okay, Modi is following up on some UPA policies, the key difference here is the will to implement those policies.
Raj Shah, New Jersey
The government will gather pace in time and Outlook and its ilk will keep eating crow. It’s almost like a gourmet dish waiting for you guys.
I have been saying this since even before NaMo took office. The NDA government will be no different. Prices will rise and all reasons other than those related to government will be given as an excuse.
Apropos Goody, Goody Days (Aug 4), I am reminded of George Orwell’s classic Animal Farm, in which, in the end, there was no difference between the pigs and their human masters.
Rajiv Chopra, Jammu
Achchhe din have arrived, with the prices of all essential goods increasing. To top that, there has been a 14 per cent hike in train fares. What a difference between the BJP’s slogans and stark reality!
Dr M. Hashim Kidwai, ex-MP, Delhi
Whether it’s the UPA or the NDA that’s in power, the condition of the aam aadmi will remain the same.
Praveen Kumar, Thane
I am disappointed to see some comments and the general tone of the article in the first place. The Government is 60 days old. In Tamilnadu when the DMK comes to power they quickly press the UNDO button of all things done by the predecessor which would have been ADMK. Be it Rain water harvesting, growth of power generation and you name it, they reverse it. The ADMK is not to be left behind in this. JJ comes to power and she immediately presses UNDO button on whole lot things like the Direct Farmers market, the mini bus scheme, the common village scheme and what not. Do all of you want the country to run like that? Undo all good and bad things done by the previous government. Like somebody pointed out here you dont win elections consecutively by not working and not developing or not delivering on promises. Bringing back black money, getting to arm twist swiss bankers are not an easy job. The impact of the changes being promulgated or implemented will take time to be felt. Please do not forget that just because you have a clear majority in LS, Bill passing is easy. The GOP and its great insecure allies still have numbers in the Rajya Sabha. It will take a lot of effort to make meaning ful legislation if Congress and Co keep opposing and sending every bill to the waste basket in Rajya Sabha. Peace.
Oi Arindam don't have too many orgasms over this love or you will go blind. So some are UPA policies and some are non UPA polices, but the key difference is that there is a will to implement policies now, before it was just sound bites. There feel satisfied now
Good article to keep anti Modi rants happy. Modi came to power thanks to his critrics. He cares two pence for those who have given the verdict in two months. In the meantime, govt will pick up the pace and u all eat crow. Which has become a gourmet dish of many.
It is funny to see outlook journalists who did not ask a single question to MMS governmetn for 10 years, are now expecting magic from modi government in 2 months. Bunch of hypocrite morons
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