The disruption of parliamentary business for two whole days (February 2-3) by the Congress and opposition parties demanding a JPC (joint parliamentary committee) probe into allegations of fraud and stock price manipulation made by an obscure US-based securities firm is a telling example of how public money is wasted by politicians. According to a study conducted by jagranjosh.com, every minute of parliamentary stoppage costs taxpayers Rs.2.5 lakh because salaries of MPs and staff and overheads have to be paid even when no business is conducted. Moreover because normal business of parliament is interrupted so often, important legislation — including the Union Budget — is bunched up and enacted hurriedly.
As a result, Acts of Parliament tend to be poorly drafted by wily bureaucrats who invest themselves with wide discretionary powers enabling them to extract rents from citizens. In addition hastily enacted legislation provokes litigation that clogs the judicial system.
The issue of parliamentary time wastage aside, the massive uproar generated in the Congress and opposition benches was provoked by the alleged “closeness” of Gautam Adani, Chairman of the eponymous group of companies, with the BJP government and prime minister Narendra Modi.
According to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, the prime minister has influenced other decision-making bodies inside government to award Adani contracts to construct/manage sea ports, airports, power generation plants and defence equipment. Even if this charge of favouritism is true — which it is not because most infrastructure building contracts were awarded to Adani following public auction — what’s wrong with the PM expressing confidence in Adani’s proven project design, execution and management capabilities?
Adani companies have exhibited rare, indeed extraordinary competence, especially when compared with public sector enterprises. The group’s Mundra deep water marine port is among the most efficiently managed worldwide; capacity utilisation in Adani power plants which generate 20 percent of national capacity, is far superior to all government power plants.
Capacity utilisation in its cement factories, and Adani-managed airports — all public goods — is widely acknowledged as world-class. Moreover, the flagship Adani Enterprises Ltd imports and distributes 2 million tonnes of coal annually which keeps the country’s power generation plants running. In the circumstances, what’s wrong if the prime minister endorses this extraordinary wealth creator — the Sachin Tendulkar of India Inc? Yet he has failed to do so.
The plain truth is that the socialist economic development model under which private entrepreneurs are necessarily villains is totally bankrupt, with even Russia and communist China rejecting it. Can one imagine any American politician speaking so disrespectfully about Bill Gates/Warren Buffet/Elon Musk? It’s high time Rahul Gandhi came of age and stopped flogging the dead horse of neta-babu socialism. It won’t — and can’t — run.