Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram on Friday said the BJP government cannot just blame “external factors” for price rise.
On the government’s argument that the rupee’s fall, the slowing GDP growth, and inflation are due to the war in Ukraine, he said, “Does the government, therefore, throw up its hands? Could I in 2013 (as minister then) have said, ‘This is all because of the tantrums of the US Fed’? Could somebody say in 2008 that it was all because of the international financial crisis?”
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“Why are you in government? You have to deal with external shocks as well as internal problems,” he said.
He warned that if on inflation no steps are taken then India’s growth forecast “will be slashed further”.
‘Only govt happy with economy’
“The only one who seems to be happy about the economy is the government. I call it whistling in the dark” he jibed, adding, “Everybody else has predicted serious headwinds.”
On the falling rupee value against the US dollar — it touched another record low beyond 82 today — he responded to the government’s defence that it’s better than other currencies. “What kind of satisfaction is that?” he remarked, and said such comparisons must also see that India’s per-capita income is not equal to other countries.
“On many parameters (other than currency rate), we are weaker, we are poorer; we have great difficulties — for example in poverty, maternal (and) infant mortality rate,” he pointed out.
‘Make an effort’
The question, he said, is: “What are you doing? I’m not saying you would succeed… but you have to make an effort.”
He said in under the Congress-led UPA rule in 2012 and 2013, “the rupee had fallen precipitously”: “But by the time we demitted office (in 2014), we had brought it back to 58.4. We took a number of steps.”
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The former finance minister suggested steps such as attracting more investment.