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Discreet UF - The Economic Times

Editorial ()
February 3, 1998

Title: Discreet UF
Author: Editorial
Publication: The Economic Times
Date: February 3, 1998

The manifesto of the United Front is far less inspiring than its
performance in office has been. It is more compromised than the
Front's Common Minimum Programme ever was. The reasons are not
far to seek there is no unanimity within the coalition on the
strategic vision of development to be pursued by the Front, and
the more cohesive and potentially more electorally significant
Left contingent has imposed its will on the rest. There is no
mention in the manifesto of words like economic reform and
foreign investment policy. These have been neither championed nor
challenged. Evidently, the Front spin doctors have decided that
discretion is the better part of managing coalition
contradictions. But the whole point of a manifesto is to be
explicit, not discreet, about what you stand for.

The United Front manifesto's section on economic policy is a
battleground where all elements of a strategic vision have been
knocked out and only statistics remain standing. Descriptive
numbers about the past do not a manifesto make. That a political
formation that has carried, while in office, the logic of
economic reform forward on a variety of fronts should be so shy
of stating its stand on reform is worse than hypocrisy it shows
the possibility of rhetoric constantly threatening to overwhelm
practice in the future as well. Whether the Front finds itself in
the treasury benches or the Opposition, it should clarify its
stand on reform. Failure to posit a policy of fast, broadbased
growth as the key to solving myriad problems of underdevelopment
forces the Front to seek development by fund, corporation, corpus
and commission. One each for each segment of society the
scheduled castes and tribes, other backward castes and
minorities. This is superficial at best and fiscally disastrous
at worst' The same verdict applies to the promise to subsidise
interest payments on farm loans.

The manifesto attacks both the BJP and the Congress. However, the
BJP is characterised as having a core communal agenda, whereas
the Congress is accused of compromising with communal forces.
There is little doubt as to who is the lesser evil in the United
Front's eyes.

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