New Delhi: Sonia Gandhi jumped an entire generation of the Congress party and invoked her mother in law, Indira who pushed ahead with nationalising banks in 1969.
And in doing that she skipped Rajiv Gandhi's legacy of modernisation and liberalisation which was a decisive shift away from the socialist idealism of garibi hatao
“Let me take you back to Indira Gandhi's much revived nationalisation of banks 40 yrs ago. Public sector financial institutions have given the economy the stability and the resilience we are now witnessing in the face of the economic slowdown,” said Sonia Gandhi.
With the Congress facing the assembly elections in four states and later in four months facing the general elections, Sonia used the opportunity of this elite gathering to raise the aam aadmi concern with the global financial crisis in a pointedly political speech.
Industry leaders felt looking back in the past will not solve challenges of the present or the future.
“Its unfortuntate that something like 26 years after opening up the economy, having higher growth, having taken 100 bln people out poverty we still are ambivalent about reforms. I find that unfortunate,” says Infosys Co-Chairman, Nandan Nilekani.
Ironically even the former communist allies remained uncharitable
“Its is her own finance minister that has been pushing to lower the govt's hold to 51 per cent in nationalised banks,” says CPI general secretary, A B Bardhan.
But Congress leaders argue that Sonia was only asking for moderation
“Its all about balancing act, she was only saying that there should be a balance on how far should we go with out reforms,” says Congressman Salman Khursheed.
In fact in a light interaction, Sonia Gandhi made a small gesture of reassurance.
“We are not going to tie anybody's hands,” added Sonia Gandhi.
Garibi Hatao might be slogan of days go bye, but for the Congress, socialism was in vogue in the early 70s and it seems, in election season 2008 its in fashion again.