Wanted: India’s First Prosperity Prime Minister – Part 3

The Janata government lasted only for a fleeting moment in post-Independence history. Smashing the machine and putting the nation on a new track...

This article is a part of a series on India’s quest for a Prosperity Prime Minister. You can read Part 1 and Part 2 here.

The Janata government

The Janata government lasted only for a fleeting moment in post-Independence history. But they did their bit in further strengthening the anti-prosperity machine — by removing property rights as a fundamental right from the Constitution.

Rajiv Gandhi

Indira came back as Prime Minister, followed by her son, Rajiv Gandhi, in 1984, who got the biggest mandate in Indian history after her assassination. He promised big things, but was undone by many small things. The anti-prosperity machine was still chugging along, crushing the dreams of every Indian by denying all wealth creation opportunities.

Narasimha Rao

The first significant effort to reverse the growth of the anti-prosperity machine was taken in 1991 by Prime Minister Narasimha Rao. But he too gave up after a year. It was then business as usual for the anti-prosperity machine.

Atal Behari Vajpayee

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee was in power for six years — a lot of time to smash the machine. Some token dismantling was done, but for the large part, the machine stayed intact. The next Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, added vast quantities of fuel to the machine, and so the story continued for another 10 years. It appeared to the world that the prosperity machine had been shut down, but that was not the cause – it was just given some shiny new packaging.

Narendra Modi

And then came Narendra Modi in 2014, with an aspirational promise of better times. He said all the right things, and a nation, fed up with the misdeeds of the government, voted for him in large numbers. On May 16, 2014, there was great hope as he got a mandate that no Prime Minister had for 30 years. The promise of better days was contingent on smashing the anti-prosperity machine.

Smashing the machine and putting the nation on a new track required new talent and new thinking. The new talent was not to be and neither was the transformation. If there was any doubt, the statements made in the first few weeks followed by the Budget made it very clear – the anti-prosperity machine, instead of being shut down, was now under new management. The ruler had changed, but not the rules.