On most economic issues, the Congress manifesto is explicit: full steam ahead with reforms. Compare this with the 1996 one which hardly said anything on economic policy. One reason for this was that the man who was supposed to write the chapter on the economy, P. Chidambaram, had left to form the TNC while the manifesto was still being written. But the deeper reason was growing doubt in the Congress leadership that the economic reforms had alienated the common voter from the party. For the last two years of the Narasimha Rao government, ever since the Congress fared badly in four assembly polls, reforms had been more or less on hold; economic policy concentrated instead on curbing money supply to slash inflation and bring down prices, and so win the 1996 Lok Sabha elections.
The result: prices did not come down, throttled money supply caused a credit squeeze and slowdown in industrial growth, and the Congress did not even make it in the polls.