Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has responded to questions raised on the state of Indian economy. FM Jaitley on Thursday had said that some people are trying to change the narrative when India is at 70 and he doesn’t have the “luxury of being a former Finance Minister which has become a columnist.” Jaitley said the Modi government has shattered policy paralysis and taken several bold steps, that previous governments would have never taken.
In a scathing article published in The Indian Express on Wednesday, BJP leader and former Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha had blamed Jaitley for pushing economy towards a “mess”. Sinha’s critique came days after another BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy had raised similar concerns on the state of economy in an interview to CNN-News18. Opinions against the handling of economy by Narendra Modi government have turned into a big controversy. Opposition leaders like Rahul Gandhi and former FM P Chidambaram have also taken swipes at the Centre.
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In his article, Sinha had said, the GDP growth rate of 5.7% could be actually 3.7% or less. Commenting on this, Chidambaram tweeted:”Yashwant Sinha speaks Truth to Power. Will Power now admit the Truth that economy is sinking? TRUTH 1: “The growth rate of 5.7% is actually 3.7% or less” says Yashwant Sinha. TRUTH 2: “Instilling fear in the minds of the people is the name of the new game” says Yashwant Sinha. ETERNAL TRUTH: No matter what Power does, ultimately Truth will prevail.” Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “Ladies & Gentlemen, this is your copilot & FM speaking. Plz fasten your seat belts & take brace position.The wings have fallen off our plane.”
At a book release function today, Jaitley refrained from taking Sinha’s name but said he does not have the luxury as yet of being a former finance minister nor does he have the luxury of being a former finance minister who has turned a columnist. The FM hit back really hard at his critic. “Acting in tandem itself won’t change the facts,” he said as he took a jibe at Sinha for seeking a job by making those comments. “Probably, a more appropriate title for the book would have been ‘India @70, Modi @3.5 and a job applicant @ 80,” Jaitley said.
Arun Jaitley’s counter to Yashwant Sinha on state of economy: Top points
- When India is at 70, there are always attempts to change the narrative itself. I must confess that I do not have the luxury as yet of being a former finance Minister. Nor do I have the luxury of being a former finance minister who has turned a columnist. Therefore I can conveniently forget a policy paralysis, 4 billion reserve left in 1991 and I can switch over and change a narrative.
- Demonetisation was intended to make sure that this anonymous tender (money) get identified to its owner. Shadow economy was playing under the old normal and those who opposed it were the ones under whom shadow economy was operating.
- It was everyone’s call that GST should come. States knew the merits of GST. Those who had pushed this country into policy paralysis, when they saw it coming, they said to postpone it.
- We gave the opportunity to people to come clean about their accounts held abroad. Small areas which paralysed, at least UPA 2, because of discretion being used and misused. We were completely able to distance ourselves from these discretions itself.
- FDI continues to be largest ever in the country. Direct tax figures are 15.7% over and above last year’s figure, so this so-called slow down visualized by some, hasn’t even impacted.
- I am not drawing comparisons. In relation to what this country has undergone. If you look at the capacity of leadership to take decisions, does it put the country into policy paralysis, does it look the other way when gross corruption take place? The space of bringing a blend between a fast moving, economy that grows and benefits percolates, has been the basic tenor of this government.
- When we started in first 1-2 years, the favourite comment was these are incremental changes, not big bang.
- Before present government, there was no way in India you could do business without relying on alternate mechanisms of payment. It had corrupted us as a society, tarnished our image globally. Prime Minister had a very strong agenda on creating a new normal as far as India shadow economy was concerned.
- I had announced this year, how do we legitimize political funding in India so underground funding itself comes to an end. Now it is in final stages.
- Post demonetisation, post-GST, the most severe criticism I have faced is why did you do it (GST) so soon.
- One of the priority before this country was economic discipline and prudence, but balance and spending was also necessary. Not so easy.
- Modi government shattered shadow economy. Strong actions being taken against Benami property owners, irrespective of their political affiliation.
- Look at the tenor of the debate these days. What was the kind of decision, political leadership in past would think twice before taking. We tackled political corruption in New Delhi.
- Something UPA didn’t do since 2011, the first decision we took was to form SIT on black money.
- There is a new ideological divergence emerging in India, which was not there in 70 years. Last 3.5 years have seen it happening emphatically. Ideological polarisation taking place across the country.
- Left-right labelling will get diluted. Not only we replace Congress at the Centrestage but also become the central protector of the state. Whole polarisation process started 2-2.5 years ago. The centrist space comes to us. (With inputs from ANI)