Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram has challenged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to put out a white paper on the state of the economy under the previous UPA regime, a week after the PM told CNN-News18 that he considered the option but desisted doing it because it would have damaged the perception about India’s prospects.
In an interview with Marya Shakil of CNN News18, Chidambaram said, “This government’s own documents show a high rate of growth before it took over. Someone who briefed PM Modi has been economical with the truth.” Chidambaram told CNN-News18 in an exclusive interview.
“My path of fiscal consolidation is being faithfully followed by my successor,” Chidamabaram said indicating that the Modi regime that came to power on promise of change was essentially following the policies of the UPA dispensation.
In an exclusive interview to CNN-News18 broadcast last Friday, the PM had said: “Today I think, before presenting the first Budget, I should have placed a White Paper in Parliament on the economic situation in the country. This thought had come to me. I had two paths. Politics told me that I should put out all the details. But the nation's interest told me that this information would increase the hopelessness. The markets would have been badly hit. It would have been a big blow to the economy and the world's view of India would have got worse. It would have been very difficult to get the economy out of that.”
“I chose to stay silent at the risk of political damage in the national interest... I didn't put these details out in public. It hurt us, we were criticized.. It was made to look like it was my fault. But I took the political damage in the country's interest… All these issues from the past have impacted private investment.”
Meanwhile, Chidambaram, asked how he perceived the economy under the Modi government, said while growth under the NDA government has been “reasonable”, inflation, exports and job creation were problem areas.
Reacting to the PM’s comment that upon taking charge he had called a meeting of top bankers to assure non-interference, Chidambaram said if the banks were in a bad shape, it was not because of political interference.
He said the economy was still “limping along”, and the Modi government shouldn’t “gloat over certificates from World Bank”, a reference to Modi’s statement that a raft of global agencies had accepted that India was growing at a fast clip.
“Ask the common man, young people, Muslims, Dalits, farmers if achhe din have come,” Chidambaram said, taking a dig at the NDA government’s campaign promise of ‘Good days to come’.
(This interview was first published in News18.com)