Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gave his customary reply on the debate on the President’s address to Parliament. The media has as usual gone gaga over his reply with headliners like “Manmohan nukes Advani, praises Vajpayee”.

Offstumped takes a critical look at his reply to both houses for fact, fiction and poll time hyperbole.

In the Lok Sabha Manmohan starts off praising the President for her inspiring address, well that may be the only inspiring thing about her tenure this far.

So what does the Prime Minister see in the “aam aadmi”. Well not potential, not promise, not that indomitable spirit of enterprise but here is what the Prime Minister sees in the average Indian

chronic poverty, ignorance and diseases which still characterizes millions of our people in our country

Well that is the “doom and gloom” vision of India that the Prime Minister holds. So if you are an “aam aadmi” you are chronically poor but wait not just you are diseased in the body and ignorant in the mind as far as the Congress is concerned and that is were likely it wants you to remain.

Well the Prime Minister goes on drone on the intentions of his Government on inclusive growth, rather late in the day four years into his tenure to talk of intentions dont you think ?

One would have expected the Prime Minister to reel out specific accomplishments rather than lecture on intentions 4 years on. Here is a classic example on how clueless the Prime Minister is when it comes to specifics on accomplishments.

the number of doctors, the number of nurses, the number of specialists that are now in place, I think, is much larger than what it was four years ago.

Mr. Prime Minister you cant “think” four years on, you must “know” what your accomplishments are.

The Prime Minister then goes on to talk about the UPA’s flagship program for dole – NREGA and the Prime Minister is surprisingly honest in calling what it is – an “entitlement”

If work for hundred days is available, each family, even if it has only one earning member, would have an entitlement of Rs. 8000 per annum

Manmohan Singh’s Communal Socialism comes next. The Prime Minister pleads not guilty to LK Advani’s charge of appeasement.

First off let us get this straight. It is not “minority” appeasement it is “muslim” appeasement as Offstumped had shown .

Second it is important to note that Manmohan Singh has accepted that the Vote Bank Politics practised by the Congress over the last 6 decades have not helped but hurt the Muslims.

take pride in saying that our Government has the courage to recognise that our minorities have not benefited appropriately

More bullshit from the Prime Minister on inclusive growth and states not doing their bit before he goes on to talk about Agriculture.

Here is where Manmohan Singh has pulled a fast one in his attempt to simultaneously hit at the NDA for its record while defending the 60,000 crore debt waiver.

Manmohan Singh makes the argument that because the growth in agriculture during the NDA years slowed to 2.3 % from an earlier 3.5% farmers across the country are in distress.

Claiming no expertise in economics common sense should tell us that it is specious to claim a direct correlation between the macro rate of growth in agriculture and the personal financial situation of an individual farmer which is a consequence of choices that individual would have made.

In fact here is an interesting analysis on “why poor Indian farmers  default less, and why repayment rates of comparatively better than that of financially better off farmers.” That should puncture a hole in the Prime Minister’s hypothesis as well as raise serious questions about who the 60,000 crore waiver is meant to help.

Here is another interesting analysis, this time not from the NDA years but from 1986 of 4 villages in Assam which reveals that rural indebtedness results in decline in productivity. But here is the catch, indebtedness is initiated by unproductive expenditure in the first place.

So the malaise of indebtedness has little to do with macro policies of the NDA and existed even during the earlier Congress period that Manmohan Singh was tom-tomming. What is more important is that the cause is more often than not local in nature and is rooted in bad spending decisions by the individual farmer.

The Prime Minister than goes on to labor on how the UPA raised MSP during its tenure and other things to make the rather questionable point that

It is the distress of this whole peasantry that brought the UPA to office when the NDA was talking about ‘Shining India’. This distress is the legacy of the NDA rule, a rule during which, policies were anti-farmers, anti-agriculture. About the debt relief, we have now announced…… finally remove the burden of the NDA period from our farmers’ shoulders

So let us see here, even if we accept the PM’s logic here is what is troubling. The farmers were in distress in 2004 so they voted out the NDA and in  comes the UPA. 4 full years pass by nothing happens.

Then “finally” the burden of the impending elections is felt by Messrs Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi so they wake up to this distress to act now ?

The Prime Minister then goes on to bullshit further on how this will be paid by not getting into any specifics. Instead he merely talks about getting this done by June, well in time for elections one must guess and then he makes this curious remark

the banks will be compensated as and when the loans become due

What is the Prime Minister talking about ? The whole point about this waiver was loans that were past overdue as of December 2007.

So what is he talking about “when the loans become due” ?

Offstumped Bottomline: The Prime Minister reply in Parliament should leave no one in doubt that the Congress is preparing to go to polls later this year. The June deadline for the 60,000 crore Debt giveaway should be the giveaway on the timeline. The biggest loser must be Don Prakash Karat. He had the opportunity to decide the timing of the polls last year but he blew it, thanks to Budhhadeb’s Nandigram fiasco.

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