Opposition, Congress spar over UPA's 'governance deficit'
New Delhi, April 17 (IANS) Is the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) floundering in its vision? Are compulsions of coalition a handicap in effective decision making? These questions were raised by the National Democratic Alliance and the Left leaders Tuesday at a seminar here while the Congress blamed the opposition for blocking key initiatives.
Speaking at a session on 'Better Governance for Higher Growth: Perspectives' at the annual conference of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Ravi Shankar Prasad of the Bharatiya Janata Party, N.K. Singh of the Janata Dal-United, Sitraram Yechury of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and Shashi Tharoor of the Congress gave their views on government's efforts at fostering growth and its coalition management.
The invite had mentioned Congress chief spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi as a panelist but the party was represented by Tharoor.
Tharoor said corruption had become a headline-grabbing issue not because the system had deteriorated but institutions like Comptroler and Auditor General (CAG) were working effectively.
Admitting to presence of corruption, he said the CAG coming out with reports mentioning losses to exchequer was "not failure of governance".
He said the government had been trying to generate rapid growth despite unfavourable international economic scenario.
Referring to the social sector programmes of the UPA, he said it was trying to pull a large section of people out of poverty.
"What we are doing is unprecedented. Arguably, India is the most diverse democratic polity in the world," Tharoor said.
He said the Congress success in 2004 and 2009 Lok Sabha polls was based on "politics of performance".
Referrring to criticism about "governance deficit" in the government, Tharoor said the critics fail to realise political realities.
"Coalitions do have certain logic that has to be followed...governance will be hostage to coalition politics," he said.
He also blamed the opposition for not cooperating with the government in passing some key bills.
"Because we need cooperation of others, we are where we are," he said, adding that the government "had a record to stand on".
Prasad said the political landscape of the country was marked by coalitions and the central government had to reach out to political parties to carry them along on contentious issues.
Dwelling on the need of "effective, credible political leadership that has authority", he said that the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government was able to carry along its allies on major decisions.
"Consensus building is not a one-way street. The government has to reach out," Prasad said.
He said that the government cannot blame the opposition if it was not able to reach out to political parties.
N.K. Singh said that the Vajpayee government had more allies than the present UPA government but it brought about far-reaching changes.
"It is all about skills of leadership to forge a consensus," he said.
Referring to media reports about India's economic story losing its magic, he said "governance is stuttering, growth is stuttering".
Yechury said government was adrift and needed direction. He said that his party wanted growth to be inclusive.
Yechury said India should realise its potential to become a knowledge society and added that growth was not possible without increasing purchasing power of people.
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