The newly elected Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance government appears to prefer wordplay and election slogans to a “concrete road map” on what it plans to do in the months ahead, was the verdict of Opposition parties commenting on President Pranab Mukherjee’s address to Parliament on Monday.
The address, Congress spokesperson and the party’s deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma said, was replete with slogans that Mr. Modi had used in the election campaign during the past six months.
Mocking the Prime Minister’s promise of “minimum government, maximum governance,” the Congress leader asked: “Does it mean minimising the role of the ministers and maximising the role of the Prime Minister in the government?”
He also criticised the speech for its “truncated world view” as it had failed to mention the Look East policy, BRICS, IBSA, West Asia and India’s policy towards African nations.
Expressing surprise at the NDA government’s intention of passing the Goods and Services Tax, Mr. Sharma recalled that the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled States, led by Gujarat — then ruled by Mr. Modi — had vociferously opposed it when the United Progressive Alliance government had proposed it.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) described the President’s address as a “compendium of all the election slogans of the Modi campaign and a rehash of the BJP’s manifesto.”
The President’s address was “more a declaration of intent than a blueprint for the government for the coming year,” CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury said, adding, “We will have to wait for the budget to see the policy formulation.”
Mr. Yechury also pointed out that the Special Investigation Team on black money the Union Cabinet announced after its first Cabinet meeting was the result of a Supreme Court directive, while the government’s announcement that it will open Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) in every State contradicts the 12th Plan that talks of only consolidating existing institutes. “Do they plan to revisit the 12th Plan which has already been adopted?” he asked, stressing, “This would be unprecedented.”
Drawing attention to the reference to realising India’s “soft power potential,” Mr. Yechury said this ought to have been spelt out, especially as the BJP had criticised the Manmohan Singh government for turning India into a soft state.