BJP's concerted attack on Yashwant Sinha only proves him right
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).
Prominent RSS economist Dattopant Thengadi once said Yashwant Sinha is not 'arth shastri'but 'anarth shastri':Virendra Mast,BJP Kisan Morcha pic.twitter.com/NqFJEdDCGD— ANI (@ANI) September 28, 2017
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.
Bahut dino se hum jaante hain ki Bharat ki arthvyavastha mein girawat aa rahi thi:Yashwant Sinha pic.twitter.com/1EC3os1DNG— ANI (@ANI) September 28, 2017
Sabse pehla task jo is sarkar ke paas tha ki Banks ki haalat ka sudhaar karo, jiska hum log abhi tak intezaar hi kar rahe hain: Y Sinha pic.twitter.com/Tb0ZQ9xQh2— ANI (@ANI) September 28, 2017
Aaj desh ki janta chahti hai ki rozgaar mile, par jisse pucho woh kehta hai ki rozgaar hai hi nahi: Yashwant Sinha pic.twitter.com/ABlZc6CCVG— ANI (@ANI) September 28, 2017
Hum isse pehli ki sarkaar ko dosh nahi de sakte kyunki humein pura mauka mila hai: Yashwant Sinha pic.twitter.com/UDBbroyE9A— ANI (@ANI) September 28, 2017
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”.
Maybe Rajnath Singh & Piyush Goyal know economy more than me, so they think India is backbone of world's economy. I politely disagree: Sinha pic.twitter.com/bfP2Rtd51G— ANI (@ANI) September 28, 2017
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.
If you leave out Congress finance ministers then I am the only person who presented 7 budgets: Yashwant Sinha— ANI (@ANI) September 28, 2017
Before 2014,I was party spokesperson when it came to economic affairs,& we used to call UPA situation then 'Policy Paralysis':Yashwant Sinha pic.twitter.com/OHlH32scrx— ANI (@ANI) September 28, 2017
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”.
On behalf of the govt, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will today respond to questions raised on the economy. (File Pic) pic.twitter.com/Pp7KyXWLG4— ANI (@ANI) September 28, 2017
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?