New Delhi: The UPA
government's slew of economic decisions, including opening up
retail to foreign investment, has revived Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh's image as a "courageous reformer" and is a "political
masterstroke" that will help the sagging image of the embattled
government, political analysts and commentators said.
Political risks involved in going ahead with its commitment on the
economic reforms front notwithstanding, the government's move is
only reflective of the combative mood of the prime minister, who
has asked his ministers to brace for a battle and, if need be,
fight to the finish, they feel.
"These are courageous decisions. These initiatives are long
overdue. Though the decisions come after a delay, they are the
right decisions to boost the sagging economy," Nisar-ul-Haq, Jamia
Millia Islamia Political Science Department head, told IANS.
The United Progressive Alliance government Friday permitted 51
percent FDI in multi-brand retail and also opened up the aviation
and broadcast sectors, moves that have been hailed by Indian
industry. A day earlier, the government announced a Rs.5 hike in
diesel prices and restricted to six cylinders a year the supply of
subsidised cooking gas per household.
"In the days to come, these decisions will only boost this
government's image in the eyes of the public and could keep it in
good stead when the time comes for the next electoral battle," Haq
said, noting that the immediate political fallout of the decisions
could be some trouble from allies such as the Trinamool Congress,
which has opposed the fuel price hike and FDI in multi-brand
Sandeep Shastri of the Bangalore-based International Academy for
Creative Teaching saw no threat to the government due to the
"The government will not fall, in my opinion. There is no crisis
that the government may face," he said.
"The Congress believes that it is time for action, whether that
action is right or wrong, and that this could provide it some
visibility and revival of fortunes," Shastri told IANS.
"This is even bigger than the (2008) India-US nuclear deal for the
UPA government," said political analyst N. Bhaskara Rao, chairman
of the Centre for Media Studies.
"It is an image makeover for the prime minister, considering the
political attacks he faced, both within the country and outside,"
Rao told IANS.
On the corruption front too, the decisions were a clear attempt to
obliterate the allegations the government and the prime minister
himself are facing, he said.
"In one master-stroke, the prime minister has made the nation and
key market leaders rally behind him and his decisions for the
first time in the last six years," Rao said.
Paras Nath Choudhary, a retired political researcher from the
South Asia Institute of Heidelberg University, disented. He felt
the decisions were of "a beleaguered" government that is
"politically not sustainable" and each of its decisions now are
"viewed with suspicion" by a majority of the people.
Choudhary told IANS that the economic decisions were only "to
divert attention" of the nation away from the charges of
corruption that the government and prime minister faced, including
on the allocations of coal blocks.
"These decisions will not help the government to win credibility
or merit. The situation is still very bad and this government is
certainly on its way out and is approaching final departure," he
His views were echoed by another political analyst and veteran
journalist Qamar Agha, according to whom the economic decisions
were a result of corporate lobbying.
"The timing is important and this seems like a desperate move
after realising that the situation is going out of control for the
UPA and the government is on the verge of collapse," Agha told
Another senior political analyst, G.V.L. Narasimha Rao, too felt
that the government was "truly in its last leg" and was "trying to
recover ground" by "hurrying up" decisions.
"Earlier, the government's mantra was to survive somehow and was
risk-averse.Being neck-deep in corruption charges, these are
attempts to gain some breather and respite," Rao told IANS.