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It's the economy, stupid! Yashwant Sinha's comments indicate churn within BJP

In recent weeks, most Opposition parties, but particularly the Congress, have chosen to focus their attack on the Modi government on its handling of the economy, lack of jobs and farm distress

Archis Mohan  |  New Delhi 

Yashwant Sinha
Yashwant Sinha
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Former finance minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) veteran Yashwant Sinha’s latest criticism of the Narendra Modi government’s moves has given the Congress party, which has struggled to build a campaign around the present establishment’s failures on the economic front, a major shot in the arm.
 
While Sinha answered the call of his “national duty” to speak up, BJP’s Rajya Sabha member and Sangh Parivar fellow traveller S Gurumurthy have also spoken earlier about the poor state of the economy.
 
Congress leader and another former finance minister P Chidambaram, who held a press briefing later in the day to highlight the economic slowdown the country was facing, backed Sinha’s comments. "We are happy that has echoed our criticism. Sinha said the truth about the economy. The Congress has, for nearly 18 months, highlighted these very grave weaknesses in economy. We were told, in effect, to shut up,” Chidambaram said.
 
As for Sinha, who penned his criticism in an article written for The Indian Express, he is not done yet. He is slated to be one of the speakers at Congress leader Manish Tewari’s book launch next month.

The government, on its part, rejected Sinha's critique, saying the world acknowledges India's growth momentum. "The world acknowledges India is one of the fastest-growing economies. No one should forget it. Our image at the international level is very strong," Home Minister Rajnath Singh said.
 
In recent weeks, most Opposition parties – particularly the Congress – have chosen to focus their attack on the Modi government’s handling of the economy, lack of jobs and farm distress. They have been careful not to engage with either the or the government on the issues of identity politics. If one were to draw from a slogan that former US President Bill Clinton’s campaign strategist had coined for his successful 1992 US campaign, “It’s the economy, stupid”!
 

Among the voices of dissent from within, those of Swamy, Gurmurthy and Sinha aren't the only ones. Some of the senior ministers are said to be upset with the way things are being run within the party and the government, and how little they are consulted. Earlier this month, Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi had also referred to that in his interaction at a university in the United States.

The attack by Swamy, Gurumurthy and Sinha seem to be aimed at Finance Minister But there are all signs of a churn within the BJP, even as PM Modi and party chief Amit Shah prepare for forthcoming electoral battles in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, seeking to increase their sway.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly, where she spoke about the achievements of successive governments in India, came for much praise from the Congress and other Opposition parties.

In an article published in a Hindi newspaper on Tuesday, Lok Sabha member Varun Gandhi had publicly disagreed with the Modi government’s policy on Rohingya refugees. He had called for the Indian state to show more empathy towards them.

In recent weeks, Varun Gandhi has also written about agrarian distress, at a time when farmer protests have broken out in several parts of the country. Off the record, party leaders said they disagreed with Varun Gandhi on the Rohingya question.

Even as the Modi government and have been focusing on the slogan of 'garib kalyan', or welfare of the poor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's fraternal organisations have been pointing to a growing economic distress. The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, Laghu Udyog Bharati and Swadeshi Jagaran Manch have all highlighted the impact of the and on BJP's traditional support base of traders and small business. The MSME sector has been hit grievously.

However, the leadership is hopeful of recovering the lost ground once the Supreme Court starts daily hearings into the Ram Janmabhoomi dispute.

Sinha is the member of the BJP’s ‘margdarshak mandal’, or mentors’ group. He has lately frequented Jammu & Kashmir and stressed the need for the Centre to reach out to the various stakeholders in Kashmir. Not just the Modi government but the Congress-led Opposition has also ignored his efforts.

Sinha had even met dissident Janata Dal (United) leader Sharad Yadav and reached out to Communist Party of India (Marxist) chief Sitaram Yechury on the question of Kashmir. However, a proposal to hold an all-party conference on Kashmir, with Sinha in the lead, was shot down by the Congress.

Following the BJP’s defeat in the Bihar Assembly polls in November 2015, Sinha and other members of the ‘margdarshak mandal’ had made public their unhappiness with the way the party had been run under Shah.

Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi retweeted Sinha’s Indian Express article, with this message: “Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your copilot and Finance Minister speaking. Please fasten your seat belts and take brace position. The wings have fallen off our plane.” ( Read more here

Chidambaram also tweeted quoting Sinha’s article. “speaks ‘Truth to Power’. Will Power now admit the Truth the economy is sinking,” he said.

In the past two months, Chidambaram has written extensively about the economic downturn, the ills of and the “hurried” implementation of the (GST).

Quoting from Sinha’s article, Chidambaram tweeted.



Even as the Modi government and have been focusing on the slogan of 'garib kalyan', or welfare of the poor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's fraternal organisations have been pointing to a growing economic distress. The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, Laghu Udyog Bharati and Swadeshi Jagaran Manch have all highlighted the impact of the and on BJP's traditional support base of traders and small business. The MSME sector has been hit grievously.

However, the leadership is hopeful of recovering the lost ground once the Supreme Court starts daily hearings into the Ram Janmabhoomi dispute.

First Published: Wed, September 27 2017. 17:36 IST
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