NEW DELHI: Corruption and the scandal surrounding the 1.3 billion dollar deal for the purchase of Howitzer guns from A B Bofors of Sweden hot issues in the 1989 elections have taken a backseat in the coming parliamentary polls a scrutiny of the manifestos of the major political parties’ shows.

The Congress (I) and National Front manifestos are virtually silent on these. The rightwing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) manifesto which has promised to cleanse public life merely pledges inquiry into cases of serious corruption in high places.

Bofors the lone issue which led to the ouster of the Congress (I) government 1989 does not find a mention in any of the manifestos.

The Vishwanath Pratap Singh government had promised to reveal the names of the persons who received kickbacks for clinching the Bofors deal within a month of assuming office but his party’s manifesto this time has sidestepped the issue.

Black money yet another major cause for spiraling inflation and souring prices is another subject which has been dealt casually by the manifestos.

The Congress (I) manifesto has devoted just a sentence to black money. It only says effective policies would be evolved and implemented to tackle the menace of black money.

The National Front manifesto is slightly better as it says if voted to power it will formulate concrete schemes to unearth black money and divert it into developmental activities to sub serve the interests of the poorer sections.

The BJP merely says as part of fiscal reforms it will adopt firm and bold measures to prevent the generation of black money. The communist party of India and the CPI (Marxist) also talk of curbing black money. But no one has suggested concrete steps to check the menace.

All the political parties are however agreed that the budgetary deficit should be brought down to areas on able level government non-plan and wasteful expenditure Curtailed conspicuous consumption cured for tackling the country’s economic crisis and the difficult balance of payment position.

The Congress (I) and the National Front manifestos have spared no words in blaming each other for the economic crisis. The Congress (I) manifesto says the economy is in “shambles” because of the 15 months of “mismanagement” by the National Front and the Samjavadi Janata Party.

The BJP says the current “economic mess” is a direct consequence of the mismanagement of the economy by the government.

While the government controls everyone and everything nobody seems to control the government. It believes the government too must function within the limits of strict financial discipline.

The BJP manifesto goes a step further to promise that it will impose a statutory ceiling on budget deficits to restrain government spending. It even says that revenue budgetary deficits will be reduced to zero and fiscal deficits will be brought down from nine per cent to five per cent of gross domestic product.

The National Front manifesto says it had inherited from the congress regime a “ruined and bankrupt” economy when it assumed office in December 1989.

Despite financial constraints which were responsible for the serious economic situation the National Front government was able to reduce the deficit in the first four months of its tenure by Rs 15 billion as compared to the deficit in the corresponding period of 1988-89 it claims.

The Front if voted to power will implement a long term fiscal policy and accord highest priority to curbing inflation arresting price rise and protecting living standards of the common people the manifesto says.

Article extracted from this publication >> May 10, 1991