UPA marketers have decided to turn Marxists to stay on in power beyond the 2014 general elections. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and rural development minister Jairam Ramesh-known for their support of American-inspired economic models-are exchanging ideology for populism by turning ‘left’ with land reform as a new election plank.
Helping them is former bureaucrat Aruna Roy. Jairam, playing the “activist” minister’s role has been a strong advocate of land reform, though he supports the government role in land acquisition for industry. Montek had been resisting the idea by stating that “policy to distribute land in small units has to be discouraged as it will increase fragmentation of holdings which has an adverse impact on productivity.” To settle the tussle, the government had set up a Committee of Secretaries (CoS) last year. Now, the UPA is desperately seeking a NREGA-type winning formula ahead of the 2014 elections, with Jairam, Montek and Roy being charged by Manmohan Singh himself with the task of enacting land reforms across the country based on the Kerala-West Bengal model.
“If NREGA helped the UPA come back in 2009 by winning the rural votes, something as dramatic as land reform is needed to save it this time,” said a source. The government feels this will help wash away its ‘crony capitalist tag’. The fact that the PM himself is directing the implementation of the plan reveals the seriousness with which the government has taken up this ‘Leftist makeover’.