Can’t Fault Yashwant Sinha For Speaking About Economic Downturn In National Interest
Is the extended honeymoon of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the people beginning to wear off. There is widespread discontent that not a single promise among the multitude made by him has materialised so far.
What is surprising is that he is at the receiving end from one of his own senior party colleagues — former Union Finance minister Yashwant Sinha. It has not only sent shock waves in the BJP and gladdened the cockles of those concurring with Sinha’s unbiased assessment underlining the need for immediate course correction.
Credit must be given to the senior BJP leader who has found it imperative to “speak up in national interest against the mess created by the Union Finance Minister (Arun Jaitley)”. He was of the firm view that the economy was on a “downward spiral and poised for a hard landing”.
This is the best that Yashwant Sinha could have done under the circumstances as Modi’s diktat is that anyone above 75 years of age should bid adieu to active politics and take on the role of being an adviser.
The common man has shown tremendous patience all along which appears to be wearing thin with barely 18 months remaining for the 2019 general elections. At the same time the Modi government is on terra firm and remains in the public gaze with a major announcement every now and then for the uplift of the poor.
It is anybody’s guess how long the Head of Government’s charisma will last and sway the masses as evidenced from the time he campaigned in the run up to the April-May 2014 general elections. The Lotus party secured a majority on its own for the first time in the Lok Sabha.
Is Modi keen to overcome the downturn in the economy as it is claimed to be a passing phase. The saving grace for the Modi government so far compared to the Congress led UPA regime is that there are no financial scandals or other skeletons falling out of the cupboard.
There is hardly any opposition to Modi at this juncture which has the portends of compelling the masses to sit up and take note. For this to happen the opposition has to come forward with a cogent alternative to Modi’s economic policy. This is where the opposition has come a cropper so far.
By and large people, particularly the traders, have begun wondering if Modi’s much talked about slogan of “sab ka saath, sab ka vikas” is coming apart as the problems have got compounded with the GST. A large number of them aver they are surviving because of their savings and cautioned this situation cannot continue indefinitely.
The question being asked out of frustration is about the chances of Modi’s pledges becoming a reality at all. It is in this context that Yashwant Sinha’s article underlining the need for taking corrective action without delay assumes importance.
In the prevailing circumstances it does not make any sense in pitting minister of state in the Modi government Jayant Sinha against his father Yashwant Sinha. The discriminating in the Modi government and outside concur with Yashwant Sinha’s contentions that the Centre urgently needs to take corrective measures rather than launch a frontal attack against him as evidenced by Union Finance minister Arun Jaitley.
Claiming that the NDA government had taken decisive measures for stimulating the economy, Jaitley said while demonetisation had a short-term slowdown impact it would prove to be beneficial in the long term.
At least two others in S Gurumurthy and Subramanian Swamy have expressed doubts about the demonetisation unleashed on November eighth last year having the desired impact. It had caused immense hardship to the people in withdrawing their own money from the ATMs. The serpentine lines in front of banks resulted in tension and avoidable harassment leading to no less than a 100 avoidable deaths.
Yashwant Sinha has questioned the ability of the Modi government to take good economic decisions. In a subsequent interview to the Indian Express, Yashwant Sinha explained the government did not admit there “is a problem. Month after month, quarter after quarter they kept singing praises of their own performance, kept patting their own backs while the problems kept building up. And they were not attending to the problems which got accumulated over time. It was clearly a lack of application of mind to the tasks at hand”, he emphasised.
The former Union Finance minister’s observations were preceded by criticism on the economic slowdown by the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh and the Swadeshi Jagran Manch as well.
(The views of author are personal.)