Slowing GDP comes back to haunt Modi govt now

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Even as BJP Member of Parliament and former Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha launched a blistering attack on Narendra Modi government on predicted economic slowdown, the Centre downplayed such criticism on Wednesday.

In a stinging article titled "I need to speak up now" in a national daily, Sinha said Prime Minister Narendra Modi "claims he has seen poverty from close quarters and his Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is working over-time to make sure that all Indians also see it from equally close quarters". "We are happy Yashwant Sinha has spoken truth, echoed our views about economy...he has spoken truth to the power", Chidambaram said.

Asked whether setting up of the the Economic Advisory Council would help to improve things, Mr. Chidambaram said: "It is like applying band aid to several broken limbs". "The wings have fallen off our plane" referring to Sinha's article. "Will Power now admit the Truth that economy is sinking?"

Chidambaram said Sinha only spoke the truth when he stated that the growth rate would have been 3.7% or less (instead of 5.7%) if the government had not changed the methodology for calculating the GDP in 2015.

There is also a reference to BJP Chief Amit Shah, as Mr Sinha quotes the State Bank of India as saying that the slowdown is not "technical". Sinha also said that after demonetisation, tax sleuths have been charged with the responsibility of investigating lakhs of cases involving the fate of millions of people. "The Prime Minister only speaks and the Finance Minister only mismanages the economy".

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Surjewala said the facts and figures point to how the "economy is in a state of flux" in India. "The results are there for all of us to see".

On that note, the figures of the first quarter of fiscal 2017-18, released last month, showed the GDP growth rate falling at 5.7 percent, while in the concurrent period a year ago, the GDP was soaring ahead at 7.6 per cent.

In the hard-hitting remarks, Sinha, who was the Finance Minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee's government, lashed out at "superman" Jaitley for making a "mess" of the Indian economy which is headed for a "hard landing" as sector after sector is slipping into distress. "Instilling fear in the minds of the people is the name of the new game", Chidambaram cited Sinha as saying, then added: "But the eternal truth is: No matter what Power does, Truth will ultimately prevail". Finance Ministry, in the best of times, calls for the undivided attention of its boss if the job has to be properly done.

But Sinha's comments this time might be different, even if they are also tinged with schandenfreude aimed particularly at Arun Jaitley. So, a revival by the time of the next Lok Sabha election appears highly unlikely.

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