From Yashwant Sinha to Rajeev Chandrasekhar: Politicians fight a pitched battle over economy via newspaper articles

With the economic slowdown becoming a shocking reality, various party leaders are taking the newspaper route to express their views in front of the public.

All began with senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha's scathing criticism of finance minister Arun Jaitley in an article in The Indian Express.

"I shall be failing in my national duty if I did not speak up even now against the mess the finance minister has made of the economy. I am also convinced that what I am going to say reflects the sentiments of a large number of people in the BJP and elsewhere who are not speaking up out of fear," the former finance minister wrote. He also listed out various failures of the finance ministry, and warned of a hard landing for the economy ahead of the next elections in 2019.

"The oil bonanza has been wasted and the legacy problems have not only been allowed to persist, they have become worse," he said terming demonetisation an "unmitigated economic disaster" and GST a "badly conceived and poorly implemented" reform.

"The prime minister claims that he has seen poverty from close quarters. His finance minister is working over-time to make sure that all Indians also see it from equally close quarters," he said in conclusion.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The government sprang to Jaitley's defence with railways minister Piyush Goyal and home minister Rajnath Singh reiterating the economy is doing well and that the country is the fastest growing.

However, it was Jayant Sinha, Yashwant Sinha's son and Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation, who attempted at the most spirited defence of the government, again through a newspaper.

In the article in The Times o India, he wrote that the structural reforms unleashed by the Narendra Modi government since 2014 constitute the third generation of reforms, and will usher in the new India.


"GST, demonetisation and digital payments are game-changing efforts to formalise India's economy," he has said in the article.

He also listed out various initiatives taken by the government to reform the economy. These include Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile scheme to drive financial inclusion, rural electrification, infrastructure building, and startup policies.

"Virtually every Indian will now have a basic safety net guaranteeing food, electricity , some employment, housing, a bank account, toilets, gas-based cooking, insurance coverage, micro-loans, and an all-weather road. In parallel small and large enterprises will be able to flourish in a transparent, rule-based environment that provides necessary facilities and financing. We are creating a robust new economy that will power long-term growth and job creation for `New India'," he said in the article.

He also listed out various initiatives taken by the government to reform the economy. These include Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile scheme to drive financial inclusion, rural electrification, infrastructure building, and startup policies.

"Virtually every Indian will now have a basic safety net guaranteeing food, electricity , some employment, housing, a bank account, toilets, gas-based cooking, insurance coverage, micro-loans, and an all-weather road. In parallel small and large enterprises will be able to flourish in a transparent, rule-based environment that provides necessary facilities and financing. We are creating a robust new economy that will power long-term growth and job creation for `New India'," he said in the article.

In response, senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal has on Friday written an article in The Indian Express listing out the problems with the economy and wondering what is the New India that is being promised.


On demonetisation, he has said the prime minister's push for cashless economy has rendered the poor cashless, breaking their back. A flawed and ill-timed GST rollout has been lethal for the informal sector. Agriculture sector is in distress, as is evident from the number of farmer suicides. Real estate, telecom and banking are all in a mess, he points out.

"Three and a half years have gone by. The economic situation is getting messier by the day. Let us await what New India has in store for us since the PM no longer talks of achhe din," he says.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Rajya Sabha MP and vice-chairman of NDA in Kerala, has written another article in The Indian Express criticising Yashwant Sinha's comments.

"I have served with Sinha in the parliamentary committee on finance and so I wish his economic analysis was factual and not dictated by his antipathy to the government," he has said in an article titles 'I too need to speak up'.

However, he has listed out the various ills that the economy was suffering from when the NDA government took over.

"This government inherited such an economy and has steadily built it back over the last three years to one where the GDP has grown, per capita income has increased, foreign direct investments are at a historic high of almost $160 billion, foreign exchange reserves are at the record level of almost $400 billion, inflation has moderated, and government finances are following a roadmap of fiscal discipline after years of reckless profligacy," he has said.

He also took a dig at the seeming camaraderie between P Chidambaram and Yashwant Sinha.

"In 2014, Sinha had famously charged Chidambaram of committing fraud with his budgets. Politics, in this case, has created the unlikeliest of combines, where two people are bound only by their personal/political dislike of the present government," he has said.

"Sinha is off the mark in his assessment of where we are today — perhaps a case of personal dislikes overcoming facts and reality," he has said in conclusion.

As the war of words between the political leaders escalates, the debate seems to have deviated from economics. The charges and counter charges are now more personal and political.


Published Date: Sep 29, 2017 01:48 pm | Updated Date: Sep 29, 2017 02:15 pm



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