AB Vajpayee: A PM whose biggest legacy is in the form of policy reforms
Former PM AB Vajpayee passed away today in Delhi. He was a statesman and was much loved by his supporters and respected even by his rivals. However, what is most noteworthy is the fact that he turned himself into one of the foremost reformist PMs in the country.
His idea was simple, but had immense potential to build a new India. The idea was to construct arterial roads that could spur development just like what was witnessed in the US. In 2001 Vajpayee launched the Golden Quadrilateral and the North-South & East-West Corridor projects to build 4/6 lane highways between four top metropolitan cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata as well as from Srinagar to Kanyakumari and Porbandar to Silchar. Image source: PTI
This saw 32 state-owned companies and hotels being sold to private firms in five years. Beginning with sale of Modern Food Industries to Hindustan Unilever (HUL) in 1999-2000, his government went on to sell Bharat Aluminium Company Ltd (Balco) and Hindustan Zinc Ltd to mining baron Anil Agarwal's Sterlite Industries, IT firm CMC Ltd and Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL) to Tatas, fuel retailer IBP Ltd to Indian Oil Corp (IOC) and Indian Petrochemicals Corp Ltd (IPCL) to Reliance Industries Ltd. Image source: PTI
His government made a diplomatic push to acquire a 20 per cent stake in the gigantic Sakhalin-I oil and gas fields in far east Russia for USD 1.7 billion in 2001. This was India's single largest investment abroad. This was followed up with a 25 per cent stake in an oilfield in Sudan for USD 720 million. His model of energy security by investing in overseas projects has since then been followed vigorously with footprint now expanded to 20 countries and energy diplomacy part of India's engagements with other countries. Image source: IANS