Updated: September 27, 2017 10:23:43 pm
After senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha authored a critical piece on the state of the Indian economy in an op-ed for The Indian Express, various Congress leaders stressed on the alleged failure of the BJP-led NDA government in tackling the economic situation. Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi compared the economy to a plane whose wings have fallen off. “Ladies & Gentlemen, this is your copilot & FM speaking. Plz fasten your seat belts & take brace position.The wings have fallen off our plane,” he tweeted in the morning.
Later in the day, Gandhi accused Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of destroying the economy. “Arun Jaitley has destroyed India’s economy. The whole country is going to suffer from severe losses,” he said, while addressing the last public meeting of his three-day Gujarat tour in Jetpur.
Former finance minister P Chidambaram backed Sinha in his analysis, questioning whether the government will finally come out and admit that the economy is in a bad shape. “Yashwant Sinha speaks truth to power. Will power now admit the truth that economy is sinking,” he tweeted in the morning.
In a statement given by him later in the day, Chidambaram said, “His (Yashwant Sinha’s) views are not very different from what Members of Parliament belonging to the BJP – and of course other parties – have told us for many months privately and in soft whispers. It is a sad commentary on our times that MPs are afraid to reflect what they see and hear around them, especially in their constituencies. Yet we call ourselves a free country.”
Chidambaram hit out at the government saying, “Congress has, for nearly 18 months, highlighted these very grave weaknesses in economy. We were told, in effect, to shut up.” Takinga dig at PM Modi’s slogan of ‘achhe din’, Chidambaram said, “I ask, how long will the government hide behind the rhetoric of the Prime Minister and the slogans of the party? It is a small mercy that we no longer hear the slogan “achhe din aanewale hai”. As I travel around the country, what I hear is “achhe din to aaye nahi, yeh burre din kab jaayenge?”
The former minister also urged reporters to write about the state of economy without being scared. “My appeal to all of you, and especially to those who are knowledgeable about the economy, is to speak and write without fear. Darr ko chhod do,” he said.
The Aam Aadmi Party also used Sinha’s article as a basis to state that those running the central government had “little understanding” of the economy. Addressing a press conference, Delhi’s Finance Minister and senior AAP leader Manish Sisodia said all key indicators suggest that the economy is going through its worst phase in many years. “All key economic indicators show that the economy is going through its worst in many years. From being world’s fastest-growing major economy just one year ago, we have become a free-fall economy with slow growth, low investment and no jobs,” he said.
While Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal described Sinha’s article as “hard-hitting”, Sisodia blamed Modi government for throwing the economy into “a free fall”. “From the fastest growing economy, the Modi government has thrown the Indian economy into a free fall, which will have disastrous consequences for the country,” Sisodia said.
Economy fast growing, says Govt
While the article by the former finance minister has served as ammunition for the Opposition, leaders of the government have taken a defensive position. Responding to the piece, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said India is one of the world’s fastest growing economies and it has been well documented.
“The whole world admits that India is the fastest growing economy in the world. No one should forget this fact. In the matter of economy, in the international arena, India’s credibility has been established,” he said.
Defending the government by saying that some uncertainty is bound to be there while “some transformative changes are made”, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal stated that Sinha is entitled to his opinion. “There is bound to be some uncertainty when some transformative changes are made. It (economy) may take some amount of time to absorb these changes but this will pass. Challenges come but we will stay the course. The government is steadfast in its resolve to end black money and corruption. It won’t flinch due to some criticism,” he said.
Yashwant Sinha, who served in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s cabinet, wrote that the economy is on a downward spiral and blamed Arun Jaitley for “the mess the finance minister has made of the economy.” “I shall be failing in my national duty if I did not speak up even now,” wrote Sinha. “I am also convinced that what I am going to say reflects the sentiments of a large number of people in the BJP and elsewhere who are not speaking up out of fear.”
“The prime minister claims that he has seen poverty from close quarters. His finance minister is working over-time to make sure that all Indians also see it from equally close quarters,” he concluded.
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