Conceding that there were some “weaknesses” in his regime, former prime minister Manmohan Singh said on Thursday that the Narendra Modi government should stop blaming the UPA for every economic crisis, as five years was sufficient time to come up with solutions.
Addressing a press conference ahead of Maharashtra elections, he was replying to a question on finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s comments in the US, where she said the banking sector passed through its worst phase during the tenures of Singh and former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan.
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The NDA government should have learnt from the UPA’s “mistakes”, and provided “credible solutions,” Singh said.
Had the NDA government learnt from the mistakes, fraud-accused jeweler Nirav Modi and other loan defaulters would not have fled with public money, or the banks’ situation would not have gone from “bad to worse”, Singh said.
“You cannot claim year after year that the fault lies with the UPA (United Progressive Alliance), you have been in office for five-and-half years and that is long enough period for a government committed to public welfare to do some credible things. Merely passing the buck to UPA regime is no solution to India’s problems,” the former PM said.
Talking about his tenure as prime minister between 2004-14, Singh said, “What happened did happen. There were some weaknesses.
“But this government has been in office for five and half years, it should have learnt from our mistakes and provided credible solutions to those problems which are still affecting our economy,” he said.
“You may score some brownie points, but you are not finding solutions to the problems of the suffering humanity of our country,” Singh added.
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Earlier, he said, “Before one can fix the economy, one needs a correct diagnosis of its ailments. The government is obsessed about somehow trying to fix blame on the opponents, in the process it is unable to find the solutions that will ensure revival of the economy.”
Singh said India is in a “vicious slowdown” and pegged the only “feasible” rate of growth that can be achieved now at 5.5-6%, much below the 8-10% essential to address India’s needs.
Welcoming the corporate tax cuts, the economist-turned -politician said the problem right now is lack of demand and suggested a cut in indirect taxes to address the issue. He blamed the Modi government for “deterioration in economic climate” of the country, adding that “double engine model” of governance has failed.
Singh said the government’s apathy and incapability are affecting the future and aspirations of millions in the midst of the slowdown.
With the growth rate declining year after year, there is no hope for the economy to reach USD 5 trillion by 2024, as promised by the government, he said. “This government believes in headline management and not concrete solutions, that is the problem,” he said. He also said the “obsession” with managing inflation has led to various troubles in the farm sector, and added that Maharashtra has become the suicide capital of the country.
Maharashtra and Mumbai have borne the brunt of the industrial slowdown, he said, and added that unfortunately the BJP governments at the Centre and in Maharashtra have been unwilling to take up people-oriented policies.
“The manufacturing growth rate of Maharashtra is declining for four consecutive years. I was told of gloom prevailing in Pune, India’s largest auto-manufacturing hub. A similar gloom prevails in other parts of Maharashtra also,” he said.
(With inputs from agencies)