Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma on Monday became the second Cabinet Minister to say that the “senior leadership” in the Manmohan Singh government “failed to have a dialogue with the people of the country on its achievements”.
Union Finance Minister P. Chidamabram had on Sunday told a newspaper that the criticism of the UPA government for not communicating its achievements to the people was fair.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Mr. Sharma called BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi a “demagogue”. He said Mr. Modi was “stealing” the UPA government’s economic vision and policy agenda. “Sunday’s speech hyped by the BJP as its prime ministerial candidate’s vision statement for India turned out to be hollow and a damp squib,” the Minister said. “Mr. Modi is just repackaging what the UPA government has already been doing.”
Calling Mr. Modi “obsessive”, Mr. Sharma said his dream of becoming the Prime Minister would not be realised and would “only speak always from fake Red Forts.”
Mr. Sharma gave a point-by-point rebuttal to Mr. Modi’s Sunday speech. “Mr. Modi said he would raise the share of manufacturing in the Gross Domestic Product to 20 per cent, but does he know that the Cabinet had approved on October 25, 2011 a higher target share of 25 per cent under the National Manufacturing Policy? He is actually lowering the target.”
For achieving the target, Mr. Sharma said, the UPA government had planned industrial corridors and five smart cities, including one in Gujarat.
The Minister also said the UPA government had raised budget allocation on education by nine times and health by seven times since it was voted to office in 2000. We have doubled the number of IITs and IIMs and added 30 new Central universities and 1,500 industrial training institutes and are also building new AIIMs, he said. “Why didn’t the NDA build even a single IIM or IIT in its term?” the Minister asked.
Mr. Modi had on Sunday promised to develop 100 smart cities and set up IITs, IIMs and AIIMS in every State if his government was voted to power.
The Minister also said Mr. Modi must inform the people which welfare schemes of the UPA he proposed to scrap.
Trade, Mr. Sharma said, under the NDA regime was barely $130 billion, but we have taken it up to $800 billion.
Mr. Sharma challenged Mr. Modi’s claim of Gujarat being the most attractive State to foreign investors. Foreign Direct Investment was $30 billion when the NDA had left, he said, but now it was $309 billion. He also said as per the official data that “Gujarat ranks sixth behind Maharashtra ($63 billion), National Capital Territory of Delhi ($35 billion), Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka in attracting FDI.”
Mr. Sharma also said that the UPA government’s Food Security Law coupled with the Minimum Support Price policy was a “Price Stabilisation Fund”, something Mr. Modi had promised on Sunday for managing inflation.