Union Minister of Finance and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arun Jaitley on Tuesday said India needs a “decisive prime minister” and not an “unworkable alliance with maverick leadership” to fulfill people’s aspirations and ensure economic growth. He was referring to the mahagathbandhan, or the grand Opposition’s alliance of anti-BJP parties.
In a Facebook blog post titled Political stability, Decisive Leadership and a Clear Mandate – Their Relationship with Growth, Jaitley said India has emerged as a fast growing economy under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and is expected to do much better in the next year. Lok Sabha elections are expected to be held by May.
Though India is the fastest-growing major economy in the world right now, “we are not satisfied with a 7% to 7.5% growth rate”, Jaitley said, adding that the government hopes to “break the 8% barrier”. Ease of Doing Business Ranking improved from 142 to 77 in five years, and the government is now looking at entering the top 50, he added.
“Who should be India’s prime minister, if India were to achieve this?” Jaitley asked. “Should he/she be constrained by his/her rival aspirants who have reluctantly supported him/her out of mere dislike for a common opponent or does India need a Prime Minister with a clear mandate as in 2014. Only such a Prime Minister can deliver growth and satisfy the nation’s aspirations.”
He said the average GDP growth of 7.3% in the five years of the Modi government was on a much larger base than that of the previous government. “The growth rates are higher,” Jaitley added. “A higher growth rate on a larger base has a multiplier effect.”
The finance minister said that in the five years of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance’s second tenure, inflation varied between 12.2% and 8.4%,. “In 2013-’14, the UPA government left behind an annual inflation figure of 9.4%,” Jaitley added. “It took time for this figure to be moderated. In the five years of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the inflation figure has been 5.9%, 4.9%, 4.5%, 3.6% and 3.9%.”
When Prime Minister Modi came to power, India was the tenth largest economy in GDP terms in the world, the minister said. “Presently, the fifth, sixth and seventh economies namely United Kingdom, France and India are within a very narrow range,” he wrote. “A marginal fluctuation of currency values alters the size of the economies. India, of course, is projected to grow next year at 7.5%. This will conclusively ensure that India, at the end of the next financial year, could possibly be the fifth largest economy in the world.”
The finance minister wrote that to ensure better quality of life in the decades to come, “it is a pre-requisite that India needs a decisive leadership, consistency in policy direction and a strong and stable government”. This cannot be achieved by “an unworkable alliance with maverick leadership whose longevity is a suspect”, he added.