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Advised Manmohan Singh, Pranab Mukherjee against Vodafone Taxation: Montek

Montek Singh Ahluwalia, who had been deputy chairman of the Planning Commission throughout the United Progressive Alliance’s (UPA’s) decade at workplace (2004-14), has stated he’d in 2012 advised then prime minister Manmohan Singh then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee to not execute one of their most contentious decisions taken by the authorities of this day — to retrospectively amend the Income Tax Act, 50 years after it had been passed, to overturn the Supreme Court’s Vodafone judgment. But they didn’t heed his advice.
Asked if this meant that Singh agreed with the proposition and did not think that it could send out a damaging message regarding India’s attitude to the rule of law, or he had been feeble and not able to overrule the finance ministry, Ahluwalia said he could not answer that since he wasn’t privy to any talks between the both of them.

But he did state that at no stage afterwards (during the previous eight years) had Singh told him that the decision to retrospectively amend the Act was a error. He said that this hadn’t been discussed between them.
At a 60-minute interview to The Wire, to pay the launching of his forthcoming publication Backstage: The Story Behind India’s High Rise Years, Ahluwalia told Karan Thapar the property acquisition legislation in 2013″went too far”. He admitted that the government had received petitions from industrialists pointing out but because they had been”stakeholders” their information wasn’t taken.


In his bookhe admitted that the Act”improved the price of property to fiscally unsustainable amounts… and made it simpler for everyone who would like to discontinue a job to utilize the various consultative procedures required under the legislation to postpone things”.


From the interview, he also explained the Act squeezed industrialists in 2 ways — in terms of price and by providing a simple path to block their aims.


Ahluwalia consented environmental regulations held upward clearances of many jobs throughout the UPA years and, therefore, delayed growth and investment. But he said that this became evident about 2010-11 and afterwards the authorities had a few decades to work out exactly what to do. In 2014, the UPA was voted from office. Ahluwalia indicated that the UPA didn’t have enough opportunity to behave and take corrective steps.


Describing the initial seven decades of the UPA’s 10-year period as”outstanding”, ” he explained maybe its biggest accomplishment was an 8.4 percent rate of growth throughout the period of time, when 138 million individuals, a figure with no precedent, were raised from poverty. On the other hand, the UPA failed to find recognition for these accomplishments because it did not broadcast its own successes. Regrettably, the Congress, also, didn’t take adequate actions to publicise the UPA’s successes.


Speaking about the costs of corruption which arose in the 2G and Coalgate controversies, Ahluwalia said the authorities didn’t manage them well. He said the UPA needed a respectable defence, which it didn’t create correctly. He said the accusation that the exchequer had left a massive loss because coal and spectrum had been sold cheaply overlooked the essential truth that this sparked the rise of industry and telecom, which resulted in faster GDP growth and that, consequently, caused additional earnings, which might be utilized for other developmental functions.


In terms of his evaluation of Singh as prime minister, Ahluwalia said the opinion he was feeble and vacillating was unjust.


There was a lengthy debate about whether the very fact that Sonia Gandhi had been”that the last decision-maker” undermined the constitutional place of the prime minister and also the conventional way the Indian authorities functioned.

About the author

Richard Thompson

Richard Thompson

Richard's love for gadgets was probably triggered by an electric shock at the age of five while poking his finger into power sockets for no reason. He managed to destroy a few more desktops and phones until he was sent to England for school. Somehow he ended up in London, where he had the golden opportunity to buy a then senior editor a pint of lager, and here we are.
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