“Manmohan was complicit in all that Chidambaram and Pranab did”
Accusing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of distancing himself from the management of the economy by the former Finance Minister and UPA Presidential nominee, Pranab Mukherjee, the BJP has said that it speaks volumes of the integrity of Dr. Singh.
At a news conference here on Friday, senior BJP leader and former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha took exception to the comments made by the Prime Minister in an interview to Hindustan Times on the state of the economy and said that it was a statement of “defeat, frustration and dark future.”
In the interview Dr. Singh, who has taken charge of the Finance portfolio, promised greater “clarity” in tax-related matters. The Prime Minister said he would work towards making India a more business-friendly place and cut down infructuous procedures and fiscal deficit.
“What is most laughable about the interview is that the Prime Minister is distancing himself from Pranab Mukherjee. He says there will be clarity in all tax matters. Who brought about the confusion in tax matters? A Finance Minister meets his Prime Minister four or five times during the budget preparation. The PM goes through every word of the FM’s budget speech,” Mr. Sinha said. As Prime Minister, Dr. Singh was a full partner and complicit in all that P. Chidambaram [Finance Minister in UPA-I government] and Mr. Mukherjee did and could not distance himself from their decisions.
Mr. Sinha referred to the Prime Minister’s comment that it had taken the UPA eight years to undo the damage to the economy caused by the NDA policies and said no leader could look forward to consensus with the Opposition when he started on such a premise.
“The government has been and continues to be in denial.” The policy paralysis in UPA II was on account of differences within the government and had nothing to do with the Opposition.
Pointing to the statement of the Prime Minister that most measures to boost the economy didn’t require legislative measures, Mr. Sinha wanted to know what stopped the government from taking executive decisions.
Did he consider the Prime Minister an overrated economist? Mr. Sinha referred to the statement of I.G. Patel (whom he described as the guru of Dr. Singh) that he considered the PM an “underrated politician and overrated economist.”
“Singh is talking as if he is the chief consultant to the Government of India,” Mr. Sinha said. It was not for the PM to tell the world how this or that should be done.
Chidambaram as ‘kotwal’
On the appointment of Home Minister P. Chidambaram as head of the Empowered Group of Ministers on telecom spectrum, Mr. Sinha said: “That is good. He has been made the kotwal [policeman]. It will be fun.”
The Opposition has been insisting that the former Telecom Minister and main accused in the 2G spectrum scam, A. Raja, had said in his affidavit that all decisions pertaining to the telecom policy were taken after due consultations with Mr. Chidambaram who was Finance Minister then.