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Don't want anyone to pity me for my humble background: Manmohan Singh hits out at Modi

Catch Team | Updated on: 2 December 2017, 22:31 IST

Responding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s claim that his government has not had a single blot in the past three years, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh raised the issue of the massive growth in revenue of BJP President Amit Shah’s son’s company after BJP came to power.

Speaking to reporters in Surat, Singh said that BJP needs to clarify its position on Jay Shah and like Caesar’s wife, top people shouldn’t be above suspicion.

Taking digs at the prime minister, Singh said that he does not speak on his humble background and does not want to enter into any competition with Modi on this particular matter.

“I don’t want the country to take a pity on the basis of my humble background. I do not think I would like to enter into any competition with Prime Minister Modiji on this particular matter,” he said.

Earlier in the day, while interacting with the traders and businessman in Surat, Singh yet again launched a scathing attack on the prime minister over demonetisation and a “hastily” implemented Goods and Services Tax (GST).

According to the former prime minister, Gujarat suffered the most because of these twin blows that have done considerable damage to the medium and small enterprises in Surat, Vapi, Rajkot, among other areas.

Calling the recent agitation of the youth across the state an indication of the deep dissatisfaction with successive BJP governments, Singh added, “The winds of change are blowing in Gujarat. The Congress party will ensure that the voice of every Gujarati regardless of caste, creed, gender or class will be heard. Our Congress government will govern with both head and heart, with Sardar Patel and Mahatma Gandhi as our inspirations.”

Asking the people of the state to repose their faith in Congress, Singh went on to add that the time has come for the intelligent and enterprising people of Gujarat to seek change which takes 6.5 crore Gujaratis to new heights and a better future.

Highlighting how Gujarat has fallen behind other states on social indicators, the former prime minister said, “On every social indicator, from Infant Mortality Rate, Maternal Mortality Rate, to female literacy, Gujarat has fallen behind the best performing states in the country, including Himachal, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The abdication of the Gujarat state of public education has led to rampant privatisation and decreasing quality of education. This, in turn, is affecting the competitiveness of otherwise sharp Gujarati youth in the job market.”

Singh continued his attacks on the prime minister over demonetisation and GST and pointed out how the latter has sown a deep-rooted fear of tax terrorism among the trading community.

“At a time when the economy has slowed down considerably, despite favourable global macroeconomic conditions, the fear of tax terrorism has eroded the confidence of businesses to invest. As you know, the growth in private investment is at a 25 year low. This is terrible for India’s economy,” he said.

While welcoming the 6.3% GDP growth rate in the July-September, Singh cautioned how it was too early to conclude whether the new figures represent a reversal of the declining trend observed in the previous five quarters.

“Some economists believe that the CSO which released the figures, has not adequately captured the impact of demonetisation and GST on the informal sector that accounts for about 30 per cent of the economy,” mentioned the former prime minister.

He even pointed at the RBI forecasts that the growth rate in 2017-19 will pick up to 6.7% and mentioned that even if the growth rate reaches the above-mentioned mark, the average growth rate would only be 7.1% in four years of BJP government.

“To equal the UPA’s 10 year average, the economy will have to grow at 10.6% in the fifth year. I would be happy if this were to happen, but frankly, I do not think it will,” he pointed out.

Calling 8 November, when the prime minister announced the scrapping of high-value currency notes, a black day for the economy, Singh said that he wondered who advised Modi to inflict such reckless step on the nation and whether any considered thought went into it.

Accusing the prime minister of trying to reap political dividends through demonetisation, he said that by announcing this scheme, Modi painted everyone as a thief.

“The Prime Minister is from Gujarat. He claims to understand Gujarat and the poor more than anybody else. How is it that he never understood the pain his decisions will unleash on you? This is a uniformed, half-baked crusade on black money where he painted everyone to be a thief, while the real culprits have gotten away,” Singh said.

Requesting the political leaders to stick to the high road, Singh said that labelling anyone, who questions the government, as anti-national is damaging the democratic discourse of the country.

“Is everyone who questions the outcome of demonetisation or GST, a tax-evader? Does questioning the drop in GDP rate make one an anti-national? This attitude of suspecting everyone to be a thief or an anti-national, the low-level rhetoric is damaging to democratic discourse and has real consequences for how we relate to one another as citizens,” he pointed.

He also raised the issue of growing farm distress across the country and how BJP betrayed the farmers by not implementing its poll promise of increasing Minimum Support Price. “The loan waivers announced in a few states have only paid lip service to farmer’s concerns,” he added.

First published: 2 December 2017, 22:31 IST