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BJP's concerted attack on Yashwant Sinha only proves him right

Charu Kartikeya | Updated on: 28 September 2017, 18:57 IST
(Arya Sharma/Catch News)

Former finance minister Yashwant Sinha's views on the state of economy appear to have hit his party and the government hard.

The evidence is clear with the battery of spokespersons that they have lined up to counter Sinha. Further evidence lies in the fact that the counter-criticism has not been kept limited only to polite disagreement. Sinha is also being showered with epithets like “anarthshastri”.

A day after Sinha wrote an article in the Indian Express newspaper slamming the NDA government's mishandling of the economy, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Railways Minister Piyush Goyal were among the first ones to defend the government. Goyal reportedly said that India had become the world’s fastest growing economy in the last three years, “under the decisive leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi”.

Additionally, Sinha's own son, Jayant Sinha, a Union Minister in the Modi government, wrote a rebuttal to his father's opinion that was published in the Times of India.

In his piece, Sinha junior essentially argued that articles like his father's, “draw sweeping conclusions from a narrow set of facts, and quite simply miss the fundamental structural reforms that are transforming the economy”.

Jayant Sinha's was not the only article that slammed the former finance minister's views. R Balashankar, member of BJP Central Committee on Training, and former Editor of Organiser, also wrote an opinion piece for NDTV's website. Balashankar's argument is that Yashwant Sinha's attack on economy means Modi is “doing great”. 

Balashankar began by announcing that “Sinha is not an economist" and that “his tenure as finance minister was disastrous and shook the faith of the middle class”. “Criticism is his habit”, Balashankar went on to say.

Another Union Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, too reportedly came out in defence of the government, saying Modi's government's record was being appreciated across the world and foreign agencies were giving the Indian economy good ratings.

BJP MP from Bhadohi in Uttar Pradesh, Virendra Singh Mast, came down hard on Yashwant Sinha. Mast, who is also chief of BJP's Kisan Morcha, said Dattopant Thengadi, founder of the RSS-backed Swadeshi Jagran Manch, had once described Sinha as not 'arth shastri' but 'anarth shastri' (not an economist, but a harbinger of disaster).

Sinha, on his part, stood his ground resolutely and reasserted his gloomy assessment of the state of the economy. He reiterated that demonetisation hit an already weak economy and even as its effects were yet to subside, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) came as another blow.

I was a supporter of GST. Govt was in a hurry to implement it from July. Now, GSTN which is the backbone is failing: Yashwant Sinha

He also responded to Singh and Goyal, saying “maybe they know economy more than me, so they think India is backbone of world's economy. I politely disagree”.

To those doubting his credentials, the senior BJP leader said that he was the only non-Congress finance minister to have presented seven Budgets. He also sought to remind the BJP that before the party came to power in 2014, he was the party's voice when it came to economic affairs.

Sinha also reportedly retorted to his son's counter, asking the latter if he was so competent to reply to the former finance ministe's criticism, why was he removed from the Finance Ministry?

Reports claimed that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will also be fielded to answer “questions raised on the economy”.

With such a long line-up of spokespersons of the party and the government, the BJP has only exposed that Sinha's opinion piece has rattled them. It is in some ways reminiscent of how UPA had fielded senior ministers and party leaders to respond to allegations raised during the anti-corruption agitations led by Ramdev and Anna Hazare in 2011.

The economy is going through a slowdown and there is no point in denying that fact.

In fact, the Modi government has admitted as much in many ways. Why else is the government publicising PM's meetings with the FM, which is such a routine occurrence. Why else is the government making much noise about the possibility of a fiscal stimulus and why else has Modi set up a council of economic advisors three years after coming to power?

First published: 28 September 2017, 18:57 IST
Charu Kartikeya @CharuKeya

Assistant Editor at Catch, Charu enjoys covering politics and uncovering politicians. Of nine years in journalism, he spent six happily covering Parliament and parliamentarians at Lok Sabha TV and the other three as news anchor at Doordarshan News. A Royal Enfield enthusiast, he dreams of having enough time to roar away towards Ladakh, but for the moment the only miles he's covering are the 20-km stretch between home and work.