NDA should stop blaming UPA for country’s woes, says Manmohan Singh

Tough talk: Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh speaking at an event in Mumbai on Thursday.

Tough talk: Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh speaking at an event in Mumbai on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: Vivek Bendre

Passing the buck is no solution, says former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asserted on Thursday that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government should stop blaming the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime for the country’s woes, having now spent over five-and-a-half years in office.

“I can merely point out that before one can fix the economy, one needs a correct diagnosis of its ailments and their causes,” Dr. Singh said here.

“The government is obsessed with trying to somehow fix blame on its opponents. In the process, it is unable to find solutions that will ensure revival of the economy, particularly strengthening of our banking system,” he added.

‘Some weaknesses’

Though he refused to directly react to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s comments about Indian banks facing their worst phase when he [Dr. Singh] was the PM and Raghuram Rajan was the Reserve Bank of India Governor, Dr. Singh conceded there may have been “some weaknesses”, but the BJP-led government could have learnt from “our mistakes and provided a credible solution” to problems that still affect the economy.

“Nirav Modi and others ran away with public money, banks are going from bad to worse… you cannot claim year after year that the fault lies with the UPA. You have been in office for five-and-a-half years, and that is long enough for a government that is committed to public welfare to do some credible things,” he said.

“Merely passing the buck to the UPA regime is no solution to India’s problems. You may score some debating points but you are not finding a solution to the problems,” he pointed out.

Stressing that the government’s five trillion dollar economy target for 2024 would require an annual growth rate of 10% to 12%, the former PM said there was no hope of the target being met with the growth rate declining year after year.

“But this is true of all the things that the present government is doing, be it doubling farm incomes or creating 2 crore jobs — exactly the opposite is happening. Jobs are being destroyed instead of being added. So this is a government that believes in headline management but not in concrete achievements. I think the BJP government has contributed in large measure to the distress that people face,” he said, pointing to steps like demonetisation denting growth.

While Dr. Singh endorsed corporate tax cuts, he said the problem right now was the shortage of demand so a better route to revive the economy would have been to reduce indirect taxes that hurt the poor.

On Kashmir, China

Dismissing a question that the Congress may bring back Article 370 if it returns to office, Dr. Singh said the party had voted for its withdrawal in Parliament.

“The change has to be brought with the goodwill of the people of J&K [but] the high-handedness with which it was implemented, is what we opposed,” he said.

Dr. Singh also questioned India’s recent engagement with China, stating that important tension points, including China’s stance on Kashmir, did not appear to have been discussed, and talks just focused on peripheral issues.

On the NRC

Referring to the Centre’s move to amend the Citizenship law so that Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Christians can enter the country if persecuted or harassed, Dr Singh said this is the first time a national legilsation is going to discriminate on religious grounds against Muslims.

“I am not against the legislation for NRC but it must not lose sight of the human problem that arises in the process of investigation, and finding effective means to ensure that only people who deserve to be excluded are excluded,” Dr Singh said that even educated people may struggle to provide documentary proof of their citizenship.

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Printable version | Jun 29, 2020 8:42:55 AM |

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