The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Two parties, one vision

New Delhi, April 7: Congress ka haath, aam admi ke saath.

Vision documents being in fashion, the Congress paraded one of its own today on the economy, holding its hand out towards the aam admi.

It promised job security, unemployment dole, no privatisation of profitable government-owned firms, land reforms and no hire-and-fire labour policy.

If the BJP tried to sell reforms thinly cloaked in swadeshi in its document, the Congress brought rejected socialist clothing out of its closet.

Reform pioneer Manmohan Singh said his party would not support labour law reforms but would rather try and “strengthen job security”. His colleague Pranab Mukherjee added that “profit-making PSUs which are competing well should not be sold off”.

If these sound anti-reformist, the party followed them up with the known Manmohan line about a stable tax policy, fiscal discipline and cutting red tape.

It said it would offer tax breaks — a development rebate — for companies expanding through ancillaries, taking on more workers or setting up base in backward areas, which is a takeout from the incentive policy of the 1980s.

The vision document said: “We want the corporate sector to grow as fast as it can, but it must bear some responsibility of helping the less privileged.”

Singh added: “Our agenda is economic growth for all, particularly for the poor.”

On growth, the party went further than the BJP. “The economic record of the NDA government will not do. India deserves a better deal.”

No one will argue. Like the BJP’s vision, this one contains no warts either. There is a difference, though. It does not sport Vajpayee’s benign face on the cover.

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