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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Don’t blame God for man-made disaster: P Chidambaram tells Centre on economic slump

Chidambaram's remarks come a day after India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth was reported to have contracted 23.9 per cent in the April-June quarter, marking its entry into a recessionary phase this year.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: September 1, 2020 8:42:08 pm
p chidambaram former finance minister, india gdp slump, minus 24 per cent gdp, nirmala sitharaman covid act of god remark, coronavirus slowdown india economyThe former Finance Minister said Sitharaman should instead "thank God" who has "blessed the farmers of this country." (Express photo by Partha Paul)

Taking a dig at Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman over her “Act of God”remark on the economic slump due to the Covid pandemic, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram Tuesday said the government should not “blame God for a man-made disaster.”

Speaking to NDTV, the former Finance Minister said Sitharaman should instead “thank God” who has “blessed the farmers of this country”.

“Don’t blame god. In fact you should thank god. God has blessed the farmers of the country. The pandemic is a natural disaster. But you are compounding the pandemic, a natural disaster, with a man-made disaster,” he told the news channel in an interview.

Chidambaram’s remarks come a day after India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth was reported to have contracted 23.9 per cent in the April-June quarter, marking its entry into a recessionary phase this year.

Explained: India’s GDP growth contracts 23.9%: What is the economics behind the math?

Chief Economic Adviser Krishnamurthy Subramanian said the contraction in GDP is “primarily due to an exogenous shock” that has been felt globally, adding that the economy is “experiencing a V-shaped recovery” after the lockdown eased.

Questioning Subramanian’s claim of a recovery post lockdown, Chidambaram asked if “anyone takes the Chief Economic Adviser seriously?”

“I don’t know if anyone takes the Chief Economic Adviser seriously. When is the last time he had a conversation with the Prime Minister? He has been predicting V-shaped recovery for months. Then he saw green shoots when the Finance Minister said it. Where are the green shoots,” he told NDTV.

Calling the government’s Rs 20-lakh crore Atmanirbhar package a “joke”, Chidambaram said it was the time to “borrow, spend, boost demand, put money in the hands of the poor so that consumption increases”.

Meanwhile, the Congress has attacked the Centre over the GDP slump, with former party chief Rahul Gandhi alleging that the “ruining” of the economy began with demonetisation and the government thereafter introduced one “erroneous” policy after another.

Last week, referring to the Covid pandemic as an ‘Act of God’ that will result in a contraction of the economy in the current fiscal, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in a meeting of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council that states were presented with two options to resolve the contentious issue of compensation shortfall estimated to be Rs 2.35 lakh crore.

Chidambaram had then asked if “the FM as the Messenger of God” will answer how should the “mismanagement” of the economy before the coronavirus pandemic be described.

Taking a swipe at Sitharaman over the remarks, the former Finance Minister said, “If the pandemic is an ‘Act of God’, how do we describe the mismanagement of the economy during 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20. Before the pandemic struck India?”

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