Lok Sabha elections 2019: Will replace NITI Aayog with ‘lean’ Planning Commission, says Rahul Gandhi in pre-poll promise
Gandhi said NITI Aayog, set up as a policy think tank by the NDA government, had served “no purpose other than marketing presentations for the PM and fudging data”.Updated: Mar 29, 2019 23:32 IST
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday said he will “scrap” the NITI Aayog and bring back the Planning Commission in a leaner avatar if his party comes back to power in the Lok Sabha elections.
Gandhi said NITI Aayog, set up as a policy think tank by the NDA government, had served “no purpose other than marketing presentations for the PM and fudging data”.
Gandhi and his party have been staunch critics of Niti Aayog, set up by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014 to replace the Planning Commission that is associated with first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. The Congress had then alleged that scrapping the Planning Commission had struck at the very foundation of the federal structure and the new body would be an “extension of the all-powerful Prime Minister’s Office”. Four years later, the criticism from the opposition camp has only ramped up.
Gandhi went a step further on Friday evening, pledging to scrap the NITI Aayog if the Congress comes back to power in the 2019 elections.
“We will replace it with a lean Planning Commission whose members will be renowned economists & experts with less than 100 staff,” tweeted Rahul Gandhi, a remark that is seen as an attempt to suggest that the Niti Aayog didn’t really have such experts.
It is not clear what triggered the outburst on Twitter. But the Niti Aayog vice chairman Rajiv Kumar had recently found himself at the centre of a controversy after he trashed the Congress’s minimum income guarantee plan. Soon after Gandhi announced the pre-poll promise to give the poor Rs 72,000 annually, Rajiv Kumar had been outspoken in his criticism.
“This is so typical of the Congress...This is the worst kind of vote politics,”Kumar was reported to have told news channels. He is the second economist in a lead role at the four-year-old institution. Arvind Panagariya, a professor of economics at Columbia University, was the first vice chairman of the panel when it was formally set up in 2015.
The Planning Commission was set up by the country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1950. For the next 40 years, the emphasis was on a growing public sector with massive public investments in basic and heavy industries. But the plan panel came under increased scrutiny with many experts questioning its role in a market-economy model where private enterprises are the primary growth engines.
First Published: Mar 29, 2019 22:35 IST