BJP veteran Yashwant Sinha stuck to his guns after government’s strong rebuttal of his stinging criticism of its handling of the economy over which union minister Jayant Sinha also joined issue with his father and stoutly defended the economic policies.
An unfazed Yashwant Sinha, who had launched a blistering attack on the government, and the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in particular, that set off a political storm, hoped the Centre would do some course correction.
BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha also waded into the row over Yashwant Sinha’s critique of the economy and came out in support of his senior party colleague, saying he was a true statesman and had shown the government the mirror.
Yashwant Sinha, a former finance minister in the Vajpayee government, also said he had sought an appointment with Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year so he could flag the issues, which he did through an article in a national English daily– The Indian Express– but got none. In the article, he spoke of the “mess the finance minister has made of the economy.”
“I found the doors were shut for me. Therefore, I had no option but to speak up (in media) and air my views. I am confident I have worthwhile suggestions to make (to the prime minister),” the 84-year-old IAS officer-turned-politician told national TV channels.
Yashwant Sinha said any government of the day “should listen” when people like former prime minister Manmohan Singh or ex-Union finance minister P Chidambaram, considered experts on financial matters, speak up, and advised against dismissing their views as “political rhetoric”.
The BJP leader, without naming the previous UPA government, said it “cannot be blamed” for the tardy implementation of central projects as the NDA has been in power for the last 40 months.
In what is seen as a counter to his father’s attack on the BJP-led NDA government’s handling of the economy, Jayant Sinha, the minister of state for civil aviation, made a stout defence of the government’s economic policies.
Jayant Sinha said several articles have been written on the challenges facing the Indian economy.
“Unfortunately, these articles draw sweeping conclusions from a narrow set of facts, and quite simply miss the fundamental structural reforms that are transforming the economy,” Jayant Sinha said in an op-ed article in The Times of India.
“Moreover, one or two quarters of GDP growth and other macro data are quite inadequate to evaluate the long-term impact of the structural reforms underway,” he said.
Jayant Sinha also said these structural reforms were not just desirable, they were necessary to create a ‘New India’ and provide good jobs.
“The new economy that is being created will be much more transparent, globally cost-competitive, and innovation driven. Importantly, the new economy will also be much more equitable, thereby enabling all Indians to lead better lives,” he said.
Jayant Sinha also claimed that the structural reforms unleashed by the Modi government since 2014 constitute the third generation of reforms, after the first in 1991 and the second in 1999-2004 NDA government.
Referring to his son’s defence of the government, Yashwant Sinha sought to know why Jayant was shifted from the finance ministry “if he was so competent” to answer the concerns raised by him. Jayant Sinha was shifted out of the finance ministry in July last year.
“There is a decline in the growth rate quarter after quarter. I decided to speak up when the problems in the economy were multiplying…I hope the government even now will take steps to correct the situation which has arisen.”
Yashwant Sinha said the purpose behind highlighting the concerns about the economy through an article was to bring certain issues in public domain so that the government does a course correction. He said he did not expect his article to create “such a furore”.
Yashwant Sinha said both he and his son were doing their “dharma” (duty). He insisted that the issue should not be seen as one between “father and son”.
“If someone has asked him (Jayant) to write the piece, then it is a cheap trick to play…I have not spoken to him (on the issue). Will do it some time to find out (what exactly happened),” he added.
The Congress raised questions over Jayant Sinha’s claims that “structural reforms” by the Modi government would create a ‘New India’.
Describing Jayant Sinha’s article as a “PIB press release”, Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram said Jayant should know that administrative changes were not structural reforms.
“Jayant Sinha’s article in ToI reads like a PIB press release. He should know that administrative changes are not structural reforms,” he said in a series of posts on micro- blogging website Twitter.