Hours after former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh renewed his criticism of the NDA government’s sudden ban on high value notes that he has called “organised loot”, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley delivered a stinging rebuttal. Mr Jaitley said an exercise backed by “an ethical and moral rationale” was being described as loot, before going on to refer to the 2G and commonwealth games scam that took place during the UPA regime. That, he said, “is loot”.
Mr Jaitley suggested it was understandable that Congress and the BJP could not agree on what loot was.
“Their primary objective to serve one family, ours to serve the nation… so even on these preliminary points we may not be able to agree,” the minister said in a takedown of Dr Singh’s attack ahead of the first anniversary of the demonetisation decision.
The Congress had fielded Dr Manmohan Singh in PM Narendra Modi’s home state Gujarat earlier today where the party vice president Raul Gandhi is leading a high-pitch campaign against the BJP that is focused on economic and demographic issues.
A respected economist, the former Prime Minister’s meeting with traders was aimed at getting him to validate the Congress charge that PM Modi had slipped up.
The rejoinder that Mr Jaitley – who had earlier in the day written a blog to argue how demonetisation had helped people – delivered from the BJP headquarters in Delhi also attempted to take sheen off Dr Singh’s performance in the country’s top post.
“All that Dr Singh has to do to is compare relative credibility of Indian economy in the pre-2014 era and post-2014,” he said, pointing that the Indian economy was widely seen during the decade that he was the Prime Minister as one impacted by policy paralysis.
“Today, there isn’t an international agency that doesn’t eulogise the structural reforms carried out… one after another,” he added, by way of comparison.
In a Facebook post earlier today, Mr Jaitley had insisted the country had moved on to a much cleaner, transparent and honest financial system since the notes ban, which he described as a “watershed moment” in the history of India’s economy.
“The next generation will view post November, 2016 national economic development with a great sense of pride as it has provided them a fair and honest system to live in.”