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Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi scored own goals on Adani-Ambani

Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi scored own goals on Adani-Ambani


In 2008, a curious debate dominated and divided left-wing students. The liberal left was then only a form of apologist for the right. During the summer of the same year, it was becoming increasingly clear that the Indian Communist Parties, led by the CPM, were prepared to withdraw their support for the UPA government over the interstate civil nuclear agreement. -United and India. And this mild-mannered Manmohan Singh was going to stand his ground. Was the left going to waste its greatest opportunity to influence, even determine, policy? Some believed it was necessary to work with the Congress and other regional parties, particularly because the BJP was one of the two major national political parties. Purists scoffed at this suggestion: for them, the BJP and the Congress were two sides of the same coin. Their attitude toward big capitalist business was the same: both had used religious identity and communal politics for electoral purposes, and both wanted to get closer to the United States, undermine labor protections, and leave the poor Indies to fend for themselves. alone in a cruelly indifferent market society.

Sixteen years later, the story is in a semi-circle, the left shoe is on the right and many more metaphors mixed together. Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi defamed Ambani-Adani. However, contrary to popular and left-wing perception, the Congress and the BJP do not express confidence or affinity with the private sector. Both attempted to vilify the companies that grew, created jobs, and supported markets and entire sectors under their watch. The question is, why?

But first, a step back. After two terms in power of the single-party BJP, few on either side of the political divide would suggest that it is a mirror image of the Congress of the UPA years. The Congress and Rahul Gandhi are pointing fingers at the nafrat ka bazaar and all that it entails, the revelations of electoral links, the attacks on institutions and the Constitution. The BJP and the Prime Ministers are refraining from having accomplished everything that could not be done in the last 70 years, from direct benefit transfers linked to Aadhaar to the construction of the Ram Temple and the revival and strengthening of Hindu identity.

Yet the two seem to converge, inexplicably, in their attacks on plutocrats.

Prime Minister Modis' rally in Telangana earlier this week began quite predictably, with attacks on the Congress and Rahul Gandhi. When he talks about the latter's obsession with business houses, it seems to be a prelude to, as in the past, a defense of entrepreneurship and job creators. You would have seen that the shahzada of the Congress (referring to Rahul Gandhi), for five years, has been repeating this. Since his Rafale was grounded, he started by repeating that, he kept talking about five industrialists, then he started saying Ambani-Adani, Ambani-Adani, Ambani-Adani, did he- he says. But in a twist, the Prime Minister almost echoed his pet peeve: the shahzada should declare in these polls, how much did they take from Ambani-Adani (kitna maal uthaaya hai)? How many bags of black money were seized? Did tempos full of notes reach Congress? What is the agreement that was made (kya sauda hua hai)?

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The Prime Minister is right when he says that Rahul Gandhi, from the mockery of Ki Sarkar in a suit and boots to the slogans of Adani-Ambani, has tried to portray capitalism as crony capitalism. He should have added that such campaigns had little resonance with the electorate and that his party won election after election when such a strategy was deployed. In fact, this is probably why Congress has slowly but surely moved away from this line of attack.

Political strategy and tactics aside, there are other, perhaps more important reasons why the Congress and the BJP need to recognize why trying to distance themselves from capital is not the best idea.

First, it smacks of hypocrisy. Neither the Congress nor the BJP, the two dominant political parties in India since 1991, are communist. If PV Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh inaugurated liberalization in the early 1990s, the government of Atal Bihari Vajpayees continued and deepened this process. He pioneered the Ministry of Disinvestment, allowing companies of adequate size to purchase and manage public assets. The Manmohan Singh years saw a dispersion and growth of business, as well as strong economic growth and an oft-expressed desire by the then Prime Minister and Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission to end a planned economy .

The Modi government also followed this path: the (re)privatization of Air India was presented as a feather in its cap. Additionally, some of its flagship programs Ayushman Bharat and UDAN, for example, require the private sector to participate, invest and implement the government's vision.

Second, the statements of key opposition leaders and, more importantly, the sitting Prime Minister must take into account much more than just electoral prospects, even in the heat of the campaign. Is there even a small chance that the two major parties and their leaders will deviate from the path the Indian economy embarked on in 1991? What effect will this have on investor confidence, which has not yet fully recovered after the pandemic? What will this mean for the government's efforts to attract private investment, which are finally showing signs of recovery?

Reports of business executives being surprised (a euphemism for disappointment) by the Prime Minister's statements are already emerging.

Finally, simplistic attacks on big business seem to betray a lack of political imagination. Today's young voter sees nothing wrong with making profits and even flaunting wealth: Anant Ambani's pre-wedding obsession or the huge success of Shark Tank India in testify. Perhaps the popularity of this notion of aspiration is the result of the failure of the left. But it is certainly something that both the Congress and the BJP should consider a success. Their governments, after all, have helped create and maintain an environment in which such desire for wealth is not illusory.

Unfortunately, they seem to be campaigning against themselves.

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