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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Manmohan Singh assails govt on slowdown: How the former PM has emerged as a strong Modi critic

From economic issues to demonetisation or agrarian distress, Manmohan Singh has now become one of the strongest voices of the Opposition against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: September 1, 2019 9:46:23 pm
Manmohan Singh, PM Modi, indian economic policies, demonetisation, gst, crimes agianst woman, india news Narendra Modi with Manmohan Singh. (Source: AP/File)

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has rarely made public interventions in the last few years since the BJP came to power but whenever he has spoken, it has weighed heavily for the saffron party to ignore or paper over. From economic issues to demonetisation or agrarian distress, Manmohan Singh has now become one of the strongest voices of the Opposition against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

On Sunday, Singh came down heavily on the BJP-led government, blaming their ‘all-round mismanagement’ for the economic slowdown. He called the state of economy deeply worrying and claimed it had the potential to grow at a much faster rate.

“The state of the economy today is deeply worrying. The last quarter’s GDP growth rate of 5% signals that we are in the midst of a prolonged slowdown. India has the potential to grow at a much faster rate but all-round mismanagement by the Modi government has resulted in this slowdown,” Singh said.

“Our youth, farmers and farmworkers, entrepreneurs and the marginalised sections deserve better. India cannot afford to continue down this path. Therefore, I urge the government to put aside vendetta politics, and reach out to all sane voices and thinking minds, to steer our economy out of this man-made crisis,” he added.

Here is how Manmohan Singh has criticised the PM Modi-led government over a range of issues in the past five years:

On unemployment

In what was one of his most scathing criticism of the ruling party earlier this year, Manmohan Singh said Modi government’s policies were resulting in massive job-less growth. “The Modi government’s policies are resulting in massive job-less growth. More than 3.5 lakh jobs have been lost in the automobile sector alone. There will similarly be large scale job losses in the informal sector, hurting our most vulnerable workers,” he had said.

In February this year, at the convocation address at the Delhi School of Management, Singh had called for in-depth analysis and political will to address the structural imbalances in our economy. “The suicides of farmers and frequent farmer agitation reflect the structural imbalances in our economy which call for serious in-depth analysis and political will to address them,” he said. “The jobless growth slipping into job-loss growth, together with rural indebtedness and urban chaos have made the growing aspirational youths restless,” he added.

Singh claimed that creating additional jobs in the industrial sector had failed as industrial growth was tepid. “The small unorganised sectors which were vibrant and contributing to the generation of wealth and employment opportunities have grievously suffered in the wake of the disastrous demonetisation and slip-shod introduction and implementation of the GST,” he had said.

Manmohan Singh, PM Modi, indian economic policies, demonetisation, gst, crimes agianst woman, india news Manmohan Singh has criticised the PM Modi-led government over a range of issues in the past five years. (File)

On farmer suicides and agrarian crisis

Last year, during the height of agrarian distress and amid rise in farmer suicides, Manmohan Singh said the youth, farmer and other marginalised sections deserve better and urged the Modi government to shun vendetta politics.

“Our youth, farmers and farmworkers, entrepreneurs and the marginalised sections deserve better. India cannot afford to continue down this path. Therefore, I urge the government to put aside vendetta politics, and reach out to all sane voices and thinking minds, to steer our economy out of this man-made crisis,” the two-time prime minister said.

On a previous occasion the same year, the Congress leader had pointed that farmers were not receiving adequate prices for their produce and rural income had declined. “Rural India is in terrible shape. Farmers are not receiving adequate prices and rural incomes have declined. The low inflation rate that the Modi government likes to showcase comes at the cost of our farmers and their incomes, by inflicting misery on over 50 per cent of India’s population,” he had said.

Manmohan Singh, PM Modi, indian economic policies, demonetisation, gst, crimes agianst woman, india news Manmohan Singh said the youth, farmer and other marginalised sections deserve better and urged the Modi government to shun vendetta politics.

Demonetisation and Goods and Service Tax

Perhaps, Manmohan Singh’s most stinging criticism against the Modi government was on demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax.

On November 2016, Singh termed the Centre’s demonetisation move a “monumental disaster”. Singh, uncharacteristically, lashed out at the government and calling the note ban decision  “organised loot and legalised plunder”, adding that the “50-days” were like a torture that could have a disastrous effect on the poor and the deprived.

“But what have the people of India gained from this adventure except to be the recipient of fresh hardships. At least one hundred persons died standing in queues outside the banks,” Singh claimed.

Regards GST, Singh’s intervention during the passage of the tax bill in the Rajya Sabha, earned him the respect of the Treasury benches. However, the same Singh came down heavily on the ruling party over the implementation of GST.

Addressing a gathering of businesspersons and traders in Ahmedabad in 2017, the former PM said the policy had broken the back of small businesses in the country. “When undertaking the endeavour of one nation one tax if PM Modi had taken inspiration from the resolve of the great Sardar Patel, the outcome would have been different,” he said.

Manmohan Singh, PM Modi, indian economic policies, demonetisation, gst, crimes agianst woman, india news Last year, PM Modi came in for heavy criticism for his silence over the Kathua case and the alleged rape of a teenager by a BJP MLA in Unnao. (Express photo: Renuka Puri/File)

Crimes against woman and law order situation

In an exclusive interview to The Indian Express, Singh said he was glad that Modi had finally broken his silence when the PM said the “daughters of India” would get justice and the guilty won’t be spared amid an outcry over the Kathua rape and murder case.

Last year, PM Modi came in for heavy criticism for his silence over the Kathua case and the alleged rape of a teenager by a BJP MLA in Unnao. Then, Manmohan Singh told The Indian Express that Modi “should follow his own advice to me” and “speak more often”.

Singh said that Modi’s failure to speak up earlier had allowed people to think that they could get away without stern action. “I do feel that those in authority must speak up in time (so as) to give a lead to their followers,” he said.

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