Amid fears of an economic slowdown, infighting within the BJP is out in the open. In an Op-ed published in The Indian Express today, former Union Finance Minister and BJP leader Yashwant Sinha attacked current Union FM Arun Jaitley, holding the latter responsible for the “mess” in Indian economy at present.
Pointing out that economy is on a downward spiral, Sinha said, “I shall be failing in my national duty if I did not speak up even now against the mess the finance minister has made of the economy. A large number of people in the BJP and elsewhere who are not speaking up out of fear.”
Jaitley has never received such strong criticism from within the BJP in the last three years. Sinha said that the name of Jaitley was already finalised even before the 2014 General Elections. He was appointed as FM even as he lost the election in Amritsar.
Sinha said that Jaitley is considered to be the “best and the brightest” in this government. But, “In challenging times it becomes more than a 24/7 job. Naturally, even a superman like Jaitley could not do justice to the task,” he said.
The former FM claimed that Jaitley was a lucky finance minister, “luckier than any in the post-liberalisation era.”
“Depressed global crude oil prices placed at his disposal lakhs of crores of rupees. This unprecedented bonanza was waiting to be used imaginatively. The legacy problems like stalled projects and bank NPAs were no doubt there and should have been managed better like the crude oil bonanza. But the oil bonanza has been wasted and the legacy problems have not only been allowed to persist, they have become worse,” he said.
On the current status of economy, the former FM said, “Private investment has shrunk as never before in two decades, industrial production has all but collapsed, agriculture is in distress, construction industry, a big employer of the workforce, is in the doldrums, the rest of the service sector is also in the slow lane, exports have dwindled.”
“Sector after sector of the economy is in distress, demonetisation has proved to be an unmitigated economic disaster, a badly conceived and poorly implemented GST has played havoc with businesses and sunk many of them and countless millions have lost their jobs with hardly any new opportunities coming the way of the new entrants to the labour market,” he added.
The former FM further pointed out that the methodology for calculation of the GDP was changed by the present government in 2015. In what may shock many, he said, “So, according to the old method of calculation, the growth rate of 5.7 percent is actually 3.7 percent or less.”
Sinha said that Jaitley failed to take corrective measures in time as “he was carrying the heavy burden of so many extra responsibilities. The results are there for all of us to see.”
Sinha alleged that Jaitley has resorted to creating fears in the minds of people through CBI and IT raids. “We protested against raid raj when we were in opposition. Today it has become the order of the day…Instilling fear in the minds of the people is the name of the new game.”
The former FM predicted that the economy is unlikely to revive before 2019 General Elections. And concluded, “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”.