leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram
on Wednesday backed Yashwant Sinha over his comments on the state of economy in the country, saying the veteran BJP leader has echoed their criticism of the NDA rule.
"We are happy that Mr Yashwant Sinha has echoed our criticism. Yashwant said truth about the economy. Congress
has, for nearly 18 months, highlighted these very grave weaknesses in economy. We were told, in effect, to shut up," he said while addressing a press conference.
Yashwant Sinha had said in his article in The Indian Express that sector after sector of the economy was in distress and the November 8 demonetisation
had proved to be an "unmitigated economic disaster".
On GST, Chidambaram said the design was itself flawed and the implementation of the tax regime was, indeed, terrible.
"How long will the government hide behind PM's rhetoric, haven’t heard ‘achhe din’ slogan in a while. Private investment has shrunk. Congress
has exposed many weaknesses in the economy and the terrible mismanagement. It was a terrible idea to breach the fiscal deficit target. For four quarters government said India is fastest growing economy, that bluff has been called," he added.
Chidambaram said Sinha's views were not different from what MPs belonging to the BJP and other parties "have told us since many months privately and in soft whispers".
He said it was a sad commentary on the times that MPs were afraid to reflect what they see and hear around them, especially in their constituencies. "Yet we call ourselves a free country."
Chidambaram said it is not only MPs who have become silent. "We have witnessed numerous examples of news reports and articles being pulled out before publication; of television interviews being taken off air; of scheduled talks at universities being cancelled; of social activists being investigated on trumped up charges; of editors and reporters being unceremoniously sacked; of academics and scholars being threatened; of judges being indirectly punished; and, most tragically, of authentic voices of the people being silenced by brutal killings."
"Yashwant Sinha is therefore absolutely correct when he writes that 'instilling fear in the minds of the people is the name of the new game'."
Chidambaram said Sinha was spot on when he said the BJP-NDA government got an unprecedented oil bonanza that was wasted; that private investment had shrunk as never before in two decades; that industrial production had all but collapsed; that exports had dwindled; that demonetisation
proved to be an unmitigated disaster; that a badly conceived and poorly implemented GST played havoc with businesses and sunk many of them; that countless millions lost their jobs with hardly any new opportunities coming the way of the new entrants to the labour market; and that the growth rate of 5.7 per cent is actually 3.7 per cent or less.
Replying to questions, Chidambaram said at least a dozen BJP MPs have "spoken to us" in the Central Hall and in committees about the state of the economy. "Nobody dares to ask questions. An MP from Maharashtra who raised questions was asked to shut up. In this atmosphere of fear, if Sinha speaks up then he is speaking truth."