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Published On: Thu, Sep 28th, 2017

Yashwant Sinha As ‘Job Applicant At 80’ : Arun Jaitley

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arunjaitley-k1YC-621x414@LiveMintNEW DELHI :  Responding to a barrage of criticism over the state of the economy from BJP veteran Yashwant Sinha, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday brushed aside criticism that the economy was in a slowdown. Calling Mr Sinha “a job applicant at 80”, Mr Jaitley said that he did not “have the luxury as yet of being a former finance minister”.
He accused Mr Sinha of acting in tandem with senior Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram, forgetting the harsh words the two had used for each other. Speaking at a book launch, Mr Jaitley refrained from taking Mr Sinha’s name but said he does not have the “luxury as yet of being a former finance minister” nor does he have “the luxury of being a former finance minister who has turned a columnist”.
The first reference was seen as for Mr Sinha and the second one for Mr Chidambaram, who rode on the BJP leader’s criticism to assail Mr Jaitley and the government’s handling of the economy post demonetisation and impact caused by the Goods and Services Tax or GST.

Being a former finance minister “I can conveniently forget a policy paralysis (during Congress’s term at the centre). I can conveniently forget the 15 per cent NPAs of 1998 and 2002 (during Mr Sinha’s term as finance minister). I can conveniently forget the $4 billion reserve left in 1991 and I can switch over and change the narrative,” he said. “Acting in tandem itself won’t change the facts,” he said.

“Probably, a more appropriate title for the book would have been ‘India @70, Modi @3.5 and a job applicant @ 80,” he said, at the release of book titled ‘India @70 Modi @3.5’. Mr Sinha, 84, in article for the Indian Express headlined “I need to speak up now” criticised Mr Jaitley over the “mess the finance minister has made of the economy” and went on to slam the government over decisions like notes ban and the GST, the new universal tax regime.
Yashwant Sinha indicted Arun Jaitley for making a ‘mess’ of the economy (File)
In an interview to NDTV today, Mr Sinha said that the government appears to be in denial about the stalled economy which hits its three-year low in June, registering growth of 5.7 per cent. Mr Sinha said “the buck stops with the Finance Minister”, refusing criticism that he has shielded Prime Minister Narendra Modi from responsibility for the downturn.

The government has said that the last quarter’s sluggishness is temporary and that the introduction of the GST or national sales tax which came months after the PM’s shock decision to outlaw high-denomination notes will deliver far-reaching gains. Mr Sinha argues that the timing of both reforms was faulty and that the economy will further slump over the next few months.

Mr Jaitley said while he had some very distinguished predecessors including a former President (Pranab Mukherjee) and a former Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh), a few others had “decided to act in concert”.”Because speaking on persons and then bypassing the issues is something which is very easily done,” he said. Arun Jaitley accused Yashwant Sinha of acting in tandem with senior Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram.
The Finance Minister said he has done a little research to pull out what Mr Sinha and Mr Chidambaram had to say about each other in the past. “One said of the other: ‘Chidambaram will have to be born again to match my record as finance minister’. He then linked Finance Minister Chidambaram to an incompetent doctor for failing to curb India’s alarming fiscal deficit. And then went on and said ‘I accuse him of running the economy down to the ground,” he said in reference to comments made by Mr Sinha.

Mr Chidambaram, on the other hand, he said, called Mr Sinha’s tenure during the Vajpayee government as the “worst years since liberalisation”.”‘I thought Shri Sinha would be happy to remain a distant memory for the people of India. However, since he seems determined to stay relevant in his party, I am obliged to recall his record during his four years as finance minister. I may point out the 2000-2001 and 2002-2003 were the worst years since liberalisation in terms of growth and Prime Minister Vajpayee had then to force him out and replace him’,” he said.
(With inputs from PTI)

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