In the last few years, Congress has consistently engaged with the United States-based intellectuals of Indian origin who are trying to relaunch Rahul Gandhi – the leader of the party who led it to its lowest ever tally. During the pandemic, Gandhi had interviews with Abhijit Banerjee and Raghuram Rajan on the state of the affairs in India, and more recently, he was in conversation with Kaushik Basu on various issues including emergency and Indian foreign policy. And, on most of the topics, the ignorance of the Congress leader was evident.
However, the consistent attempts by such economists to relaunch Rahul Gandhi shows that they have not given up on him and the Congress party yet. And, why would they? After all, a Congress-led government in India is their only chance to get a plum posting at the centre.
Kaushik Basu (2009-12) and Raghuram Rajan (2012-13) were both chief economic advisors of the Government of India during the second term of the UPA government and Raghuram Rajan was later given the post of the RBI governor by the same government.
Abhijit Banerjee, with his great affinity towards Congress and Rahul Gandhi, was the brain behind the NYAY scheme, on which the grand old party was banking to win the 2019 general election. In an interview with Rahul Shivshankar of Times Now, he categorically said, “No NYAY without tax increase.”
In another interview with Rajeev Dubey of Business Today, he said that there is scope for direct as well as indirect tax increases. When Banerjee was asked what taxes should increase and what new taxes can be imposed, he said, “Income taxes. In principle, there’s scope for wealth taxation and in some sense there’s scope for increasing GST.”
Raghuram Rajan, who otherwise argues for Capitalism, supported the NYAY scheme in order to give a fillip to Congress ahead of the 2019 general elections and said that it can change how things are run. “There are ways of structuring the scheme in a way that it creates growth at the grassroots level. It will allow people to make a financial decision on their own. The question is how it will roll out. Will it add on to existing schemes or will it revolutionise things? We have a chance to target poverty alleviation effectively. If done effectively it [NYAY scheme] can change how things are run,” said Rajan.
Moreover, after the Coronavirus pandemic, he along with people like Ramchandra Guha pushed for the idea of Congress leaders being included in the Modi government to deal with the crisis.
The Congress party failed to win the 2019 general elections despite the endorsements from these so-called ‘intellectuals’ and posted one of the worst tallies. However, the US-based trio of Raghuram Rajan, Abhijeet Banerjee, and Kaushik Basu has not yet given up on Rahul Gandhi because he is the only person who entertains them. The Modi government, on the other hand, has the support of patriotic people like Sanjeev Sanyal and Krishnamurthy Subramanian who, despite their foreign degrees and work experience, chose to remain Indian citizens, and are dedicated to their motherland.
However, people like Kaushik Basu and Raghuram Rajan, who were pushing for agricultural reforms (but did not succeed) when they were advisors of the government, have now changed their stance on the same in order to take a potshot at the Modi government. The trio’s bet Rahul Gandhi is bound to fail just like every other bet on him failed in the last 15 years.