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Chandra Shekhar an economic visionary, nationalist and pro-poor

By Staff
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Google Oneindia News

New Delhi, July 9 (UNI) Late Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar left an indelible mart on economic policy and in shaping the destiny of India, even though he could not drive full play to his economic philosophy due to his short tenure as the Premier.

Chandra Shekhar breathed his last here yesterday at the Apollo Hospital where he was undergoing treatment for cancer for the past three months.

The outstanding characteristic of Chandra Shekhar's economic plank was his hallmark of a nationalist and his deep concern for the plight of the poor and downtrodden.

As a 'young turk' within the Congress party, he fought the policies of the syndicate, led by former Prime Minister Morarji Desai, known to be a rightist, and did manage to keep the fulcrum of economic policy tilted towards the other direction.

His contemporaries descibe him as being meticulous and a deep thinker with the mind of a researcher. He would go onto the last detail and was a perfectionist of sorts.

Chandra Shekhar's tenure as Prime Minister was marked by economic crisis-- the most serious Balance of Payment crisis the country has known and high inflation.

One of the defining moments of the crisis of 1991 was the decision to mortgage gold abroad as security for a forex loan. The loan had become necessary because India had reserves to fund only three weeks of imports.

The decision to move gold out of India was described as a national humiliation. But the late Prime Minister showed tremendous courage in endorsing this proposal.

Chandra Shekhar was, however, aware that his political opponents would exploit it to the hilt, and his fears were proved right.

The Congress party attacked the despatch of gold in its political campaigns against Chandra Shekhar, though late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi saw nothing wrong in using the country's gold to help its industries.

Mr Yashwant Sinha, who served as the Finance Minister during Chandra Shekhar's tenure, described him as a visionary, a pragmatist, and one who would not forsake the interests of India even at the cost of his life.

"Chandra Shekhar wanted me to present a Budget which was pro- agriculture and pro-poor. But the circumstances created by the Congress Party did not allow this to happen and a Vote-on- Account was presented by me," Mr Sinha told UNI.

Mr Sinha recalled his association with Chandra Shekhar with nostalgia and spoke about the support he got from him as a Finance Minister in all that he tried to do.

"Had a full Budget been presented by me, the economic thinking of Chandra Shekhar would have found a clear reflection in it. He wanted that I should enunciate policies in favour of the comman man," Mr Sinha said.

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