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The BJP's National Executive and National Council meeting, held in Surajkund, Haryana, was notable in that after a long time, the party's own schisms, the not so quiet struggle for supremacy between its various leaders, were not foregrounded. Unlike at the Mumbai executive, the party presented a united front. But it took it to another extreme of unanimity, pushing through an inconsistent economic resolution with nobody offering better sense. The resolution was focused on attacking the Congress. The party was blamed for bringing the economy to the brink now and in 1991, for "Coalgate" and Bofors, for inflation and slowing growth. The prime minister's recent moves were appraised harshly and the BJP demanded a rollback in the diesel price hike and the LPG cap, and the decision to allow FDI in retail. In other words, it both deplored the fiscal deficit and attacked the unavoidable steps taken to contain it. And it did not put forth its own better ideas, if any, on addressing the fiscal deficit.
The BJP is right to tear into the Congress, and right about the corruption, cronyism and economic mismanagement of recent years. But why does it have nothing to say for itself? Inconveniently, it shares most economic assumptions with Manmohan Singh and his team — when in power, BJP leaders have been practitioners, even conceptualisers, of the policies they now critique. No matter how much they try to finesse their stand on retail reform now, the record shows that they had put forth an exhaustive case for 100 per cent FDI in retail, citing rationales they now seek to disprove on job creation and the setting up of cold chain and transport infrastructure. The other disturbing strand in the BJP's rhetoric is the manipulative invocation of "Western powers", the casting of reform as an agenda that suits their shadowy interests.
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