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New Niti Aayog man Rajiv Kumar compared Modi with Gandhiji, called choice of Adityanath for UP "courageous"

By Rajiv Shah
Has the decision to appoint economist Dr Rajiv Kumar as successor of NITI Aayog vice chairman Arvind Panagariya, who announced his resignation for the powerful post less than a week ago, something to do with Dr Kumar’s more recent incessant support to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, that too mostly of political nature?
Author of the book “Modi and his Challenges” (2016), where he is critical of Modi, in his tweets, Dr Kumar, who is a DPhil in economics from Oxford, and has served in FICCI, CII and Asian Development Bank, in his more recent tweets criticizes Lalu Prasad Yadav for “using secularism to promote dynasty and corruption” and “cynical use of Muslim voters”.
In another tweet, he praises the Modi government for “arresting” seven Hurriyat leaders, whom he calls “mere paid pawns of the ISI”, even as asking it to begin “delivery of good governance for Kashmiris”.
In one of the tweets, Dr Kumar doesn’t think UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath is “anti-development”, insisting, the “BJP has taken a big risk and laid itself to acute scrutiny and accountability on development”, adding it “takes courage” to do it. 
Following Congress setback in the state elections in UP and Uttarakhand, he advises Rahul Gandhi to” walk away from politics”, which might “give Congress a reasonable chance in 2019.”
The pro-Modi change, apparently, appears to be more recent phenomenon. In an article published in March this year, Dr Kumar praises Modi’s “historical mandate” in UP, saying, this was the starting point for him to ensure that, by 2046, India successfully generates “a sufficient number of jobs for its young population”, even as establishing “a pluralistic society with a truly federal polity”, which would “serve as a model for other emerging economies in the coming decades.”
He predicts, “Modi will not let this historical opportunity go to waste. This was best reflected in his clarion call to BJP leaders and workers assembled at the BJP’s headquarters to ‘bend down’ with humility in the wake of this tremendous victory and shun arrogance and hubris.”
In fact, Dr Kumar compares Modi with Gandhiji: “Modi’s exhortation to both party members and common citizens for an unrelenting effort towards India’s rapid transformation is reminiscent of Mahatma Gandhi’s call for not stopping with independence and continuing the struggle until the tear was wiped from every eye”, adding, “This is also the essence of Deendayal Upadhaya’s Antyodaya -- the BJP’s guiding principle”.
This was clearly an about turn from what was there in what could be described as his a more balanced book, Modi, which he came out last year. In this book, Dr Kumar advises Modi to make “mid-course corrections”, one of whom being that it would be “far too diverse and eccentric to be ruled unconditionally by a central authority”. 
Reason? Both Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, commanding similar majorities as that of Modi, but “discovered to their cost that individuals outside Parliament could mount an even more effectual opposition.”
In fact, Dr Kumar says, Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah “will have to re-think the extremely centralised and intrusive style of governance that characterised Gandhinagar”, adding, “Modi cannot hope to manage India by modelling the prime minister’s office (PMO) in Delhi on the lines of the omniscient and omnipresent CMO in Gandhinagar”, insisting, “this will boomerang.”
Elsewhere in the book, Dr Kumar says, "Modi has, for some mysterious reasons, consciously dispensed with the prime minister's economic advisory council; abolished also the national manufacturing competitiveness council; not appointed a professional economist in the PMO..."
He emphasizes, “There might be merit in having regular access to a variety of opinions and inputs, especially when one is on a learning curve.” Further, he criticizes the milieu in which “those who may have some access and inside information and use this to criticize the government are perceived and lampooned as suffering from 'sour-grapeism'...”

Comments

Uma Sheth said…
To me, comparing anyone in today's political spectrum with Gandhiji is sacrilegious.

One cannot help but wonder if Rajiv Kumar has changed his opinion about Modi, in the short span of one year, because he has been offered this job?

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