Former finance minister Yashwant Sinha tears into Modi government on economic ‘mess’

Veteran BJP leader and former finance minister, Yashwant Sinha, has slammed the Centre’s Narendra Modi government for the prevalent economic chaos in the country.

Writing in the The Indian Express, Sinha, who held the finance portfolio in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, said that he will be failing in his ‘national duty’ if he did not ‘speak up’ now against the ‘mess the finance minister has made of economy.’

He wrote, “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.”

Sinha began to his piece by singling our Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for his criticism by mocking his appointment into the Modi government as an important minister despite losing Lok Sabha elections from Amritsar in 2014.

He wrote, “Arun Jaitley is considered to be the best and the brightest in this government. It was a foregone conclusion before the 2014 elections that he would be the finance minister in the new government. His losing his Lok Sabha election from Amritsar was not allowed to come in the way of this appointment. One may recall that in similar circumstances Atal Bihari Vajpayee had refused to appoint Jaswant Singh and Pramod Mahajan, two of his closest colleagues in the party, to his cabinet in 1998.”

Sinha said that Jaitley was the luckiest finance minister given that his appointment came amidst ‘depressed global crude oil prices’ but he failed to take advantage of the ‘bonanza’ adding that demonetisation was the last nail in the coffin in making situation worse for the Indian economy.

He wrote, “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 work force, 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.

“For quarter after quarter, the growth rate of the economy has been declining until it reached the low of 5.7 per cent in the first quarter of the current fiscal, the lowest in three years. The spokespersons of the government say that demonetisation is not responsible for this deceleration. They are right. The deceleration had started much earlier. Demonetisation only added fuel to fire.”

“We protested against raid raj when we were in opposition. Today it has become the order of the day. Post demonetisation, the income tax department has been charged with the responsibility of investigating lakhs of cases involving the fate of millions of people. The Enforcement Directorate and the CBI also have their plates full. Instilling fear in the minds of the people is the name of the new game,” the senior BJP leader writes in his no-holds-barred critique.

Before Sinha, another BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP, Subramanian Swamy, too warned that the Indian economy could go into depression adding that he had informed about this danger to Modi in the past.

Former prime minister, Manmohan Singh, who had first predicted the drop of 2% in the Indian growth, too has warned that the economy will slump further. Singh, who had opposed the note ban announcement, said that demonetisation adventure was not needed for the country.

Earlier this week, Modi announced the formation of a new Economic Advisory Council to analyse economic and other issues. NITI Aayog member Bibek Debroy has been selected to head the EAC, while other members include include NITI Aayog’s Principal Advisor Ratan Watal and economists Surjit Bhalla, Rathin Roy and Ashima Goyal as part-time members.

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