Days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his government could take some “tough economic decisions”, former finance minister P Chidambaram on Friday said “hard decisions are required” and asserted had he been in the government he would have supported “hard decisions.”
He, however, hit out at Modi for his remarks that the UPA had left the coffers empty and asked the Prime Minister to come out of the election campaign mode and get on with the business of governing the country.
“If they want to take tough decisions, they will be welcome to do that. But each decision has to be weighed in the context of the economy at any given time. Let us see what these decisions are … If we were in government, suppose I had continued in government, I would have supported … hard decisions. It is in the 10-point agenda that is there in the Interim Budget speech as well as in the Congress party’s manifesto. Hard decisions are required. Because the world economy is still very sluggish and there are head winds in the Indian economy,” he said.
Chidambaram also admitted that inflation was one of the reasons for the Congress defeat in elections and said that the new dispensation will also soon realise that not all factors which leads to inflation are under control of any government. “I assume that inflation was one of the reasons. That is a very logical conclusion … inflation certainly must have been one of the reasons why people voted against us,” he said when asked what he thought was the reasons for the debacle.
“But the government will soon learn that not all factors are under the control of the government. This is what we had said when we were in the government that not all factors are under our control. We have to deal with the situation as we find them. I sincerely hope that situation in Middle East moderates or cools down. But if crude prices remain high as they were $115 a barrel, I am afraid it will pose difficulties to the government in management of the economy,” he said.
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Chidambaram also favoured downsizing of the Planning Commission amid reports that the government is likely to recast its role. “I cannot speak for the party here. My personal view has been that the Planning Commission should be a much more limited body and tasked with drawing up prospective plans. Planning Commission, as it is today, is too big, too flabby and too unwieldy,” he said and added that he had expressed the same view within the government when the UPA was in power.
The former finance minister, addressing a press conference, said the cash balance on June 1, just after the UPA government demitted office, was Rs 26,510 crore as compared to “negative Rs 2,730 crore” on the same date in 2004 after the NDA left office.