Montek Singh Ahluwalia, while returning India from the US, had ruled out his resignation though he appeared piqued over the entire episode
New Delhi: The former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asked Montek Singh Ahluwalia whether he thought he should resign, the former deputy chairman of the now-defunct Planning Commission said after the Rahul Gandhi ordinance-trashing episode of 2013.
Ahluwalia said Singh was going to visit the US, that he did not think a resignation on this issue was correct.
In a major awkwardness to his own government, Rahul Gandhi had criticised the controversial ordinance brought by the UPA dispensation to negate an Apex Court verdict on convicted lawmakers. Gandhi had termed it as “complete nonsense” that should be “torn up and thrown away”.
Montek Singh Ahluwalia, while returning India from the US, had ruled out his resignation though he appeared piqued over the entire episode.
Ahluwalia said “I was part of the Prime Minister’s delegation in New York and my brother Sanjeev, who had retired from the IAS, called up to me and said he had written a piece that was very critical of the PM. He had emailed it to me and said he hoped I didn’t find it awkward,”.
In media, the article was widely reported with reference to the author being Ahluwalia’s brother.
Ahluwalia writes in his new book “Backstage: The Story behind India’s High Growth Years”.”The first thing I did was to take the text across to the PM’s suite because I wanted him to hear about it first from me. He read it in silence and, at first, made no statement. Then, PM suddenly asked me whether I thought he should resign,”.
He added “I thought about it for a while and said I did not think a resignation on this issue was appropriate. I wondered then whether I was simply saying what I thought he would like to hear but on reflection, I am convinced I gave him honest advice,”.
The incident was still a hot subject of discussion when Singh returned to New Delhi.
Ahluwalia writes “Mostly all my friends agreed with my brother Sanjeev. They felt the PM Manmohan Singh had for too long accepted the constraints under which he had to operate and this had tarnished his reputation. The ordinance was seen as shameful the office of the Prime Minister and justified resigning on principle. I did not agree,”.
Ahluwalia argues that the incident highlighted an important fault line in the UPA.
He added “Congress saw Rahul Gandhi as the natural leader of the party and wanted him to take a bigger role. In this situation, as soon as Rahul expressed his opposition to the ordinance, senior Congress politicians, who had earlier supported the proposed ordinance in the Cabinet and even defended it publicly, promptly changed their position,”
Ahluwalia, who served as one of India’s senior economic policymakers for three decades, calls his book, a travelogue of India’s journey of economic reforms “in which I had the pleasure of being an insider for 30 long years”.
Ahluwalia, who played a key role in the transformation of the Indian market-based economy, presents the story behind the nation ‘s economic growth in the first half of the UPA’s tenure as well as its achievements in poverty alleviation.
Ahluwalia also discusses the successes and failures of the UPA tenure during which period he served as deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, a Cabinet-level position. He mentions about the policy paralysis and allegations of corruption that came to mark the last few years of UPA 2.