Tuesday 27 February 2024

News Analysed, Opinions Expressed

Politics | National

Will Gujral now implement his own agenda ?


Inder Kumar Gujral, the to-be-prime minister, had drafted a national agenda for a decade a year ago, envisaging a coalition government at the centre after Lok Sabha polls. Whether he will implement it today with the same conviction is however to be seen.

At the initiative of Ramkrishna Hegde, who was later expelled from the Janata Dal, nine personalities including Gujral had jointly drafted the Minimum Programme. The others included eminent personalities like Nikhil Chakravarty, V A Pai Panandikar, B G Verghese, A M Khusro, L C Jain, Pran Chopra and R N Malhotra.

The draft programme had made firm recommendations in various fields confronting the development of Indian society, from political reforms to centre-state relations and from internal security problems like J & K and the North East to foreign investment and external relations.

To strengthen external relations in a secured atmosphere, Gujral & his associates suggested a broad-based inter-disciplinary national security council, creation of new inter-regional and intra-regional growth zones around the Indian Ocean rim as well as with Gulf, Iran and Central Asia.

Remedial measures were called for to increase actual FDI inflow by avoiding procedural delays and foreign investment into infrastructural sector and export-oriented industries, leaving consumer industries for nationally preferred sectors.

Greater autonomy to the RBI to contain inflation, total transparency in private investment, diversification from agriculture to commercial farming, curtailing subsidies by five per cent and improving agricultural technology were also few proposals made by Gujral and others.

Gujral seemed to be of a firm view that CBI and other intelligence services must be made 'truly independent' and all institutions of governance, including the civil service and criminal justice system must be de-politicised.

Besides asking for a code of conduct for those holding public office, need was also expressed for a Lok Pal and more effective Lok Ayuktas, having jurisdiction over all public officials including the prime minister and the chief ministers.

Pending review of centre-state relations and misuse of Article 356, Gujral and his associates had urged the need to at least implement Sarkaria Commission recommendations to grant autonomy to the states while also reorganising the larger states.

Stating that situation in J & K is a product of unsatisfactory internal political management, Gujral & Co proposed maximum practicable autonomy to the state and creation of conditions for the return in safety of Kashmiri pundits.

They also suggest remoulding of special structures like sixth schedule and North Eastern Council and review of financial relations and administrative structure in the North Eastern region, with a deeper understanding of underlying factors for its emotional integration with India.

"Efforts should be made to secure broad consensus among political parties on all national issues of vital importance", said Gujral & Co which, it has to be seen now, whether he would try and implement it as the prime minister of a broad-based coalition government.

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