If voted to power, the Bharatiya Janata Party will immediately release greater quantities from the food buffer stocks to reduce inflation, former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha said on Sunday.
To spur economic growth, the BJP would reduce government expenditure to create room for the Reserve Bank to drop interest rates, thereby enabling the corporate sector to borrow and invest more. Even a cut of 0.25 per cent in the interest rates can have a dramatic impact on the investment climate, he said addressing a press conference here.
“Issues such as the Ram temple at Ayodhya are questions of emotions, but the real people’s issues in this election are economic growth, jobs and inflation,” he said. “All voters are angry because of inflation and the first-time voters are especially angry because of lack of employment opportunities,” Mr. Sinha said.
The cause for high inflation during the UPA’s tenure, explained Mr. Sinha, is its massive spending agenda, including the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), the farm loan waivers, the Sixth Pay Commission award and the entitlements-based schemes. “This loose fiscal policy has put the onus for controlling inflation on the Reserve Bank for which it is forced to keep interest rates high, he said.
Replying to a question, he said, “I won’t say that the BJP will repeal the Food Security and the Land Acquisition laws, but we will implement them in a way that there will be no hardships on the budget.”
For better-targeted subsidies, the BJP would replace the Aadhaar card that the UPA is giving out to all residents with multipurpose cards given by the National Population Register.
In response to a question on the “Modi model of growth”, Mr. Sinha said the first part of it would be to undo the mistakes of the UPA government. Mr. Sinha refused to say if he was a BJP candidate for the job of the next Finance Minister, but blamed Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for slow economic growth.
He said that the stock market celebrated Mr. Chidambaram’s decision to not contest the Lok Sabha elections on March 19 with a 125-point jump. “Mr. Chidambaram will be remembered in history as a sub-5 per cent growth specialist due to his hubris and arrogance,” Mr. Sinha said.
Mr. Sinha pointed out how Dr. Singh had on September 21, 2012, in his address to the nation, said that unless fuel prices were hiked India risked falling into a 1991-type external sector crisis, but he “forgot economics” to give into Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s demand for increasing the number of subsidised LPG cylinders from 9 to 12. “This despite the Rs. 5,000-crore impact of the decision on the fiscal deficit,” said Mr. Sinha.