With the Central Statistics Office forecasting GDP growth of 6.5 per cent for 2017-18 – a four-year low — the Congress on Saturday said the “worst fears of an imminent economic slowdown” have come true. The party argued that the government’s “tall claims” and “false bravado” on India growing at a robust rate have evaporated.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi had on Friday evening tweeted, “FM Jaitley’s genius combines with Mr Modi’s Gross Divisive Politics (GDP) to give India: New Investments: 13 year [down arrow, to signify low]; Bank credit Growth: 63 year [low]; Job creation: 8 year [low]; Agriculture GVA growth: 1.7% [low]; Fiscal Deficit: 8 year [up]; Stalled Projects [up].”
On Saturday, former Union Finance minister P Chidambaram said, “The worst fears of an imminent economic slowdown have come true. (The) Modi government’s tall claims of India growing at a robust growth rate have evaporated in thin air. No amount of sugar coating, false bravado and rhetoric along with headlines management can conceal the stark reality. Our fears and warnings have proved true. GDP growth in 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18 (est) is 8.0, 7.1 and 6.5 [per cent]. These numbers prove there is a slowdown.”
Former Union minister Anand Sharma said that contrary to the Modi government‘s claims, India’s is not a galloping economy, but is a gasping economy. “It is a struggling economy where all the parameters have been continuously going down…. Will the Prime Minister now stop saying, and the Finance Minister stop claiming, that India is the fastest growing economy? We have cautioned the government not to be boastful but to be truthful.”
Chidambaram said the decline in economic activity and growth has meant job losses, and an “abysmal” rate of job creation. “New project announcements have declined, fresh investment is low, the informal sector is still reeling under the ill-effects of demonetisation, job creation is abysmal, exports are plunging, manufacturing sector growth has slowed down, agriculture sector has been hit hard and rural despair is abundant,” he said.
Calling the lack of new job creation the “single biggest failure of this BJP government”, Chidambaram said, “In a slowdown, how will jobs be created? And how will the promised 2 crore jobs per year be created?…. The recent social discontent therefore can be a direct manifestation of this economic slowdown, which the government was conveniently hiding. It is time [the] government stops making tall claims and bends down to do solid work.”
He also said, “Retail inflation soared to a 15-month high of 4.88 per cent in November and industrial output slowed to a three-month low of 2.2 per cent in October.” Arguing that new project announcements by Indian companies have touched a 13-year low, he said the investment picture overall remains bleak.
On Saturday’s blast in Sopore, Kashmir, that killed four policemen, Sharma said, “This government has singularly failed in reassuring the country about our preparedness to secure our defence establishments and our citizens against such attacks. We are completely in the dark as to what has been discussed between the National Security Advisers of India and Pakistan (in their recent meeting)….what has been the outcome?”