Yashwant Sinha the bureaucrat turned politician has held many portfolios in various governments but the one which begot him the rather unedifying sobriquet-cum-prefix ‘rollback’ was the finance ministry stewardship. In 2000 he pusillanimously rolled back the fuel prices which were just hiked and again rationalised the rollback two years later this time round of LPG price hike with a straight face. These are just two instances cited herein but there were more to warrant the sobriquet and prefix rollback before his name Sinha.
He is also known for changing with alacrity his political views. He was critical of Narendra Modi for his alleged role in Gujarat riots and was a part of the old guard that was not in favor of Modi becoming the prime minister. But he was mollified when his son Jayant Sinha was inducted in the Modi government, though in all fairness to the junior Sinha he could have made it on his own steam easily with his distinguished degrees if not pedigree and career abroad with Ivy League financial consultancy firms. He was a carping critic of BJP for its alleged communal character and lack of secular credentials before he joined it once again with a straight face without compunctions.
Arun Shourie the other disgruntled (besides being arguably distinguished) former minister in the Vajpayee government also has the habit of surfacing out of cupboard off and on and launching a diatribe against Modi. But he has had the decency to resign from BJP once he read the writing was on the wall for him correctly. Be that as it may, even on merits the senior Sinha’s charges against the Modi government smack of unwillingness to rock the boat for a good cause. Sinha and his ilk should know that a middle-class individual has to stretch himself on three important occasions in his life:
a) Marriage of his daughter;
b) Construction or purchase of a house; and
c) Sending his son or daughter abroad, especially, to the USA for higher education.
The same applies to a government when it is attempting something seminal and out of the box. Demonetisation and GST for which Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his finance minister Arun Jaitley are being pilloried belong to this genre. Only the extremely prejudiced would deny Modi the credit for using the brahmastra of demonetisation that has together with GST brought the hitherto unorganised sector into the mainstream of the economy. Like an individual grasping for breath for a couple of years after one or more of the above important events in his life, the Modi government too was destined to suffer a sustained lull in the economy after demonetisation and GST.
Of course, it needs to bestir quickly to revive the economy that has fallen into a rut for a variety of reasons including global. But it is uncharitable and disingenuous to blame the government for not ushering in tax reforms on the petroleum front because the opposition parties would never have cooperated especially in the GST Council. And the charge of ushering in GST ahead of its time is also hypocritical because GST at the end of the day is as much the opposition’s baby as it is BJP’s and time is never propitious for the weak-kneed.
The Modi government deserves credit for belling the cat. Both demonetisation and GST were warranted but no one had the boldness to soldier on unmindful of the inevitable criticism that follows bold steps. Both have served to mainstream the economy like nothing else has in the past. But the results would be visible only after a few years like the lag between investments and spurt in sales for a company. In the event, when Yashwant Sinha accuses some of the BJP heavyweights of pusillanimity, he is being economical with the truth and jaundice-eyed.
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Updated Date: Sep 27, 2017 17:55:15 IST