As Pranab Mukherjee prepares to move to Rashtrapati Bhawan from North Block, international media has been unsparing in criticism of the veteran politician’s policies as finance minister over the last three years.
“The Indian economy may benefit from a new finance minister,” Wall Street Journal (WSJ) said in an editorial in its Asia edition on Wednesday.
“Pranab Mukherjee stepped down as India’s finance minister yesterday, and it’s not hard to assess his legacy… Mr Mukherjee exemplifies the confusion in New Delhi about what to do next. It’s impossible to reverse the slowdown when you won’t even admit to it,” the WSJ said in the editorial headlined “Mukherjee’s Miasma” (in pic).
The Economist, in its latest (June 23, 2012) edition, said: “India’s finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee, is poised to achieve his second-highest ambition.”
“As the arch political fixer, Mr Mukherjee was an obstacle to reform, since it involves overriding the interests of some coalition partners and, often, may be unpopular with voters. But a slowing economy is probably an even surer way of losing an election,” The Economist said in “Presidential sweets”.
It described Mukherjee as an “ambitious and activist politician,” and the Presidential post, although largely ceremonial, will give him the “chance for some ambitious activist politicking.”
“If, as is quite possible, the next election, due by 2014, produces a hung Parliament, it will be up to the President to decide who is asked to try to form a government.”
The New York Times, in its blog ‘India Ink’, published a post titled “Submit Your Applications for Finance Minister of India Here,” — a sort of contest of remedies to reverse India’s economic slowdown.
“Please offer your top three to five suggestions for getting the Indian economy back on track and we’ll pick a winner on Friday,” it said. “He or she will receive a copy of Mr Mukherjee’s book Challenges Before the Nation, although we can’t guarantee any finance ministry nominations,” The NYT said.
On Monday Reuters had, in an article headlined “India’s finance minister goes out with a flop,” blamed Mukherjee for drumming up expectations when he said over the weekend that “major” measures to boost the economy will be announced.
“Loose talk creates unnecessary market volatility. It’s too late for Pranab Mukherjee to learn the lesson,” it said.
“(Prime Minister) Manmohan Singh will take on the role — with a lot of unfinished business — until a full-time successor can be found. Singh, the notoriously tight-lipped architect of India's first economic revival, is likely to realise that actions will count more than words.”
UK-based Financial Times in a blog post titled “Mukherjee: master of ceremony,” criticised the erstwhile finance minister for “having failed to push through a single meaningful fiscal reform in the first three years of his government’s current term.”
The post described Mukherjee as playing “Santa Claus (in this year’s budget), with a gift for every boy and girl — the shopping list of spending proposals was exactly what the Indian economy didn’t need, and exactly what almost every economist and business leader had counseled against.”