Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has rejected former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh's contention that the current NDA Government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have failed to reach out to the opposition on key issues, particularly on legislations pending in Parliament.
In a stinging letter of rebuke, Mr. Jaitley said that first of all former Presidents and Prime Ministers rarely speak, but when they do, the nation should listen to them with rapt attention. They represent the wisdom of the nation.
He said that they are expected to be non-partisan, render constructive advice and at times send a powerful message even to their own political party to act in broader national interest.
He said that he has consistently held Dr. Manmohan Singh in high respect, and that he expected the same from the latter.
Acknowledging that he had read Dr. Singh's interview in the latest edition of India Today, Mr. Jaitley, in his letter, said that were Dr. Singh to dispassionately analyse the present government, he would really realise that "India has a government where the Prime Minister has the last word, where natural resources are allocated without corruption through transparent process, where industrialists no longer visit North Block to push files/decisions, where environmental clearances are dealt with in routine and not stalled on sadistic or corrupt considerations."
Emphatically maintaining that there has been a change in the work culture of the government, the Finance Minister said, "During the UPA Government, the public sector banks were hardly run by their own boards, or even by North Block. They were run from 24, Akbar Road. In power and infrastructure areas, sectoral challenges were not addressed during the UPA. It is the present government which is clearing up these accumulated challenges."
"Many stalled infrastructure projects have now started moving. India's journey is from 'policy-paralysis' to a global 'bright-spot', as the fastest growing economy moves on notwithstanding major challenges," Mr. Jaitley maintained.
On the issue of the passing of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill in Parliament, which Dr. Singh said had no chance of being passed as long as the NDA Government targeted Congress president and vice president Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, Mr. Jaitley said, "Almost all political parties except the Congress, support the GST. The Congress has done a volte face. Both the Parliamentary Affairs Minister (M.Venkaiah Naidu) and myself have discussed the GST with every senior Congress leader in Parliament. Is the Congress position on "Constitutional cap" not motivated by real politics? The economist in Dr. Singh should advice his party that tariffs are not provided for in the Constitution. This is what nation expects from the senior leaders and statesmen like former Prime Ministers.