Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Yashwant Sinha on 29 September hit back at Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for calling him a "job seeker at 80", and said that the Finance Minister delivered a "well researched speech", but made political disagreement between them "personal".
As verbal duel between Arun Jaitley and former finance Minister Yashwant Sinha seems to have no end, Sinha said he left his Indian Administrative Service (IAS) post and then came to politics and not after retirement.
"I did not come to politics after retirement. I left my post in the IAS. So, I could not be asking for job at the age of 80 years. In 2014, I myself decided that I will not stand for Lok Sabha election. Arun Jaitley knows this very well. And, his saying that I am looking for job at the age of 80 makes no sense," he said.
Continuing his attack, Sinha told ANI that Jaitley delivered a "well researched speech", but overlooked former prime minister LK Advani's advice to refrain from personal attacks.
"It seems that he had done a lot of research for his speech yesterday. But, what troubled me was that he overlooked Advani Ji's advice to refrain from personal attacks. And, he did totally opposite to that. Today, the matter is not about what I did and what was the situation when I was the finance minister, but why aren't these people giving any answer to the facts that I have put forward?" he asked.
Defending his policies, Sinha asked if he was such a "useless" minister then why was he made Minister of External Affairs.
"They say that I was useless as a minister. If I was so useless then why did they give me the ministry of External Affairs? How could they give me such a serious position?" he added.
Talking about corruption, Sinha asked as to how successful was the government in bringing back black money.
"In Pakistan, they ousted Prime Minister due to involvement in Panama Case, what did they do here? How much black money did Arun Jaitley bring back? During my tenure as finance minister there was never a discussion on inflation in Parliament because we had kept it well under control," he said.
"To say that people are happy, there is no corruption, all these are Jhumla (empty promise).I just want to ask as to what has happened about the Panama case? What about the HSBC list? What actions are taken? What actions has government taken to bring back black money? Did any money come back? How many people have been arrested? Who is Arun Jaitley trying to save?" he added
Further lashing out at Jaitley, Sinha said that only the "parachute politicians" (hawai neta) who sit in Delhi and have no attachment with the grassroots level will talk such things, but an elected representative will never speak like this. (dilli mein baithe hawai neta jinka grasroot se lagav nhi hai vo aisi hi baat karenge,constituency wala kabhi aisa nhi kahega).
Jaitley, in his caustic rejoinder to Sinha's criticism of the state of the economy, obliquely referred to him as "a job applicant at 80". Jaitley also commented that he did not "have the luxury as yet of being a former finance minister" or a "former finance minister who has turned a columnist".
Taking a dig at the former finance minister, Jaitley at the release of a book 'India@70' said, "I must confess that I do not have the luxury as yet of being a former finance minister nor do I have the luxury of being a former finance minister who has turned a columnist. Speaking on persons and then bypassing the issues is something which is very easily done".
Backing the demonetisation move Jaitley said that the government intended to expose the black money market.
"Demonetisation was not synonymous with confiscation of money. We gave an opportunity to people to come clean about their accounts held abroad. The Prime Minister had a very strong agenda on creating a new normal as far as the shadow economy in India was concerned," he said.
Jaitley further said that he is being criticised for bringing out reforms too quickly.
"I am being criticised for doing incremental changes. Post GST, the biggest criticism was that why I implemented it so quickly after demonetisation," he said.
Jaitley also took the occasion to downplay remarks that the economy is on a downward spiral and said, "Direct tax figures are 15.7 percent over and above last year's figure, so this so-called slowdown visualised by some, hasn't even impacted."