Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Friday the Modi government had not engaged the Congress seriously to break the logjam over the GST, as he underlined that the ruling dispensation needed to improve relations with the biggest Opposition party.
“There is today a crisis of confidence in the government,” he said.
Singh, the first PM to run two successive coalition governments, said people did not believe the NDA government. In an interview with India Today, the former PM said he and Modi had spoken once or twice.
“I have had the opportunity to talk to the PM once or twice and I have told him that he has to reach out to the Opposition much more effectively than has been the case. There has been no serious discussion with the Congress, whether it is on foreign policy or domestic policy, and even on the GST,” Singh said.
The comment refuted the government’s claims that it had pulled out all the stops to reach out to the Congress to pass the GST bill, pending before Parliament since 2011. For the upcoming budget session too, the passage of the bill is “top priority” for the government.
Singh revealed that at the first meeting between the PM and Congress president Sonia Gandhi (where he was also present), it was finance minister Arun Jaitley who did all the talking and the PM kept quiet.
“He (the PM) had invited me earlier as well. At that time too I told him that if you really want to improve relations with the Congress, it’s much more essential than ever before for you to establish contact with the Congress leadership, particularly with Soniaji and Rahul Gandhi. I told him that this is not a task on which I can deliver. They are the two most important leaders of our party, and unless and until the government establishes some rapport with Soniaji and Rahul, the Congress party cannot be taken for granted. You cannot have a situation where you foist cases like the National Herald and then expect…”
Singh, an eminent economist, felt the economy could have been in better shape and that the government was unable to “get its act together to persuade the business community to take advantage of these fortuitous circumstances to step up the rate of investment at home”.