Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday reeled out the UPA government’s economic record, promised more reforms to reverse the slowdown and asked political rivals to avoid focussing only on one bad year in their quest to attract television eyeballs.
“Our political critics focus on the experience of one bad year. This makes for good television, but it is a very distorted picture,” Singh told business leaders during the annual session of industry body Assocham.
In a speech seen as laying down the broad arguments for the Congress-led regime’s re-election in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Singh peppered his address with evidence that sought to demonstrate how people’s social and economic well-being have moved many notches for the better over the last nine years.
“The percentage of population below the poverty line declined at 0.75 percentage points per year before our government came to office in 2004-05. It has fallen more than two percentage points per year between 2004-05 and 2011-12,” Singh said.
“I think this is a record that any government can be proud of,” he said.
India’s economy grew 5% in 2012-13, the lowest since the drought year of 2002-03.
Singh said that it was one bad year. India’s economy has grown at an average of 8.2% since the UPA came to power in 2004-05, “much better than 5.7%” growth of the previous eight years, he said.
Rural per capita spending, driven by a vastly improved farm economy, grew at 2.9% a year between 2004-05 and 20011-12, compared with 1% between 1993-94 and 2004-05, he said. Likewise, rural real wages have also risen faster –6.8% per year during the 11th plan ( 2007-12) compared to 1.1% per year in the preceding 10 years, Singh said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) described Singh’s arguments as “intellectually dishonest.”
“It is the usual trick of intellectually dishonest people to compare or dress up figures. The Prime Minister is not talking of the 5% growth rate which we have recorded last year, but he is (instead) talking about an average of the last eight years.”
“It has been a very promising government and a very promising Prime Minister because they have been always making promises, which have not been fulfilled,” Sinha said.