Congress leader P Chidambaram rejected on Monday the NDA government’s charge that the Opposition was stonewalling key bills, while he rated the Narendra Modi administration a zero on 10 for its “failure” to create jobs and push through big-ticket reforms despite a comfortable majority in the Lok Sabha.
The former finance minister downplayed the year-old government’s avowed achievements, saying the new administration cleverly repackaged its predecessor’s policies and benefited from a sharp dip in global crude prices.
“Why did you put Direct Taxes Code on the back burner? Why did you ditch the Public Debt Management Agency (PDMA)? Why are you not implementing the legislative proposals of Financial Sector Legislation Reforms Commission?” he said at a press conference in the Capital following finance minister Arun Jaitley’s media briefing last week marking the NDA government’s one year in power. “These are completely puzzling. These are absolutely necessary. Why have all of these been put on the back burner when you have 282 members in the Lok Sabha?”
Jaitley highlighted his government’s accomplishments, saying the past year restored the credibility, dignity and stature of the Prime Minister’s Office, while the administration initiated financial inclusion with its insurance as well as pension schemes and brought inflation under control.
The Congress leader who joined Twitter on Monday also picked holes in the government’s development narrative, saying there hadn’t been significant economic growth in the past 12 months and while retail inflation had come down, prices of essential items continued to needle the common man.
“When the credit growth is the lowest in many years, when aggregate demand is sluggish, when 585 private sector projects are stalled, how will an investor come in? I do not see any creation of jobs,” he said. “What has one year brought in terms of jobs? In terms of jobs, I will give this government a zero. But if you will ask a big industrialist who was promised Rs 5,000 crore from State Bank of India, he will of course give 10 out of 10.”
Chidambaram also said the term “tax terrorism”, which Jaitley had coined to attack the UPA government, had come back to haunt him in the backdrop of tax notices to FIIs regarding Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT).