New Delhi: The resignation of NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya has left the Prime Minister Modi red-faced. A think tank had to make new policies and was acting as a bridge between the NDA and state governments.
However, sources close to the development said that Panagariya’s ouster had recently been on the cards, as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) economic arm, the Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), was unhappy with the Aayog’s contribution to policy-making, Catch reports.
Panagariya served as a Vice-Chairman in Niti Aayog for 2 and a half year. He told newspapers that he had informed the government two months ago that the Columbia University had refused to extend his leave beyond August this year and it would be difficult for him to get that kind of a job again. Therefore in the interest of his long term career, he had to take this decision.
Why was NITI Aayog formed:
Panagariya who has a degree from Princeton University was hand picked to run NITI Aayog.
With every passing month, the NITI Aayog looked more and more like a vindictive idea, which was just formed in order to destroy the Planning Commission – projected by Modi as one of the ‘white elephants’ from Nehruvian times.
In a meeting held on 10 January 2017, members of the SJM criticised the performance of the Aayog. The SJM had invited Panagariya and all the other three members of the Aayog – Bibek Debroy, Ramesh Chand and VK Saraswat – for the review meeting, but only Debroy turned up.
Meanwhile, the former Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd chairman RK Tyagi. He was quoted as saying by News18: “These members are found more in the media than at the Aayog.” Ashwani Mahajan, national co-convener of the SJM said: “There seems to be no synchronisation between the aims and policies of the political leadership and the Aayog.”
Criticism on PMO:
Sources said the RSS had been putting pressure on the government to provide affordable health services to the poor. “Instead, under the influence of the pro-corporate lobby, the Aayog was pursuing the dismantling of the price control regime in the country,” said a source within the RSS fold.
As per the Times of India, a report released by the Aayog on the three-year action agenda (2017-2020) said: “GM seeds have emerged as a powerful new technology promising high productivity, improved quality and lower use of fertilisers, weedicides and pesticides in the last one to two decades.”
The SJM has opposed GM crops for the last two decades, and the positive report from the Aayog raised many eyebrows in the RSS.
No power with NITI Aayog:
Abhijeet Sen, a former member of the Planning Commission, said: “The Planning Commission had the powers to make five-year plans and allocate funds to the states. This gave it the authority to interact with the states and form policies. But in the case of the NITI Aayog, these important functions were taken away. They were functioning with a hangover of the erstwhile Planning Commission, without having the kind of importance it enjoyed.”
Panagariya’s resignation is just another setback for PM Modi from the NITI Aayog.