On a day that Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi was expected to announce a stimulus for the economy, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley
said the government was in the process of addressing challenges. He termed the decline in gross domestic product (GDP) growth as “a little dip” in the last quarter.
On Monday evening, Jaitley briefed the media about the PM’s speech at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national executive meeting. The PM’s speech to over 2,000 delegates from across the country focused on the themes of “welfare of the poor” and corruption. Modi said none caught for corruption would be spared.
Earlier in the day, Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari
said the government planned to address challenges facing the economy on a “war footing”. Briefing the media on the political resolution that the BJP national executive passed unanimously, Gadkari conceded that unemployment among the youth was a challenge.
Gadkari also said the government was trying to resolve the “teething problems” in the roll-out of the goods and services tax (GST). “The government is sensitive to the economic issues. All of us (ministers) are giving the PM feedback. We are making an effort on a war footing (to deal with economic issues),” Gadkari, who handles a clutch of ministerial portfolios, said.
The political resolution said the Modi government observed the centenary year of Jan Sangh leader Deendayal Upadhyaya
as the “year for the welfare of the downtrodden”. It resolved to pursue economic policies inspired by Upadhyaya’s commitment to garib kalyan
, or welfare of the poor, and construct a new India by 2022. It identified a six-point programme.
These include poverty-free India, clean India, an India without terrorism, separatism, casteism, communalism, and corruption. The finance minister said the country’s economy was sound. He said the macroeconomic data in the last three-and-a-half years had shown it was “sounder than ever before”, except for the “little dip” in the last quarter.
“Whatever steps are required to change the (economic) environment, we are certainly in the process of addressing them,” Jaitley said.
In the run-up to the meet, senior BJP leaders had said the party would pass a resolution on economic issues. However, the BJP eventually decided to pass a standalone resolution that addressed both political and economic issues. The BJP also had a rethink on allowing a live telecast of the PM’s speech at the national executive.
The political resolution enumerated the advantages of demonetisation and lauded the implementation of the GST.
“The government is consistently resolving the difficulties being faced by the people and the traders during the initial period of the implementation of this tax reform,” it stated.
In his speech, the PM asked party workers to be the link between the people and the government, and said the BJP must ensure mass participation in efforts like Clean India campaign.
Gadkari indicated the government was mulling a booster shot for the economy in the sectors of power and roadways, and was likely to allocate Rs 40,000 for the purpose.
The resolution highlighted the women-centric agenda of the Modi government. On Congress President Sonia Gandhi writing to the PM to ensure that the women’s reservation Bill was passed, Gadkari said the Congress should have got the Bill passed when it was in the government. He added this was under PM’s consideration. He criticised the lathicharge on women students at the Banaras Hindu University. He said the PM and BJP Chief Amit Shah had spoken with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and an inquiry committee was being set up.
The resolution has congratulated the PM for the amicable resolution of the Doklam stand-off with China, inauguration of the Sardar Sarovar Project and the bhumi poojan of the high speed Ahmedabad-Mumbai train.