Arun Jaitley calls Opposition 'nawabs of negativity', says chemistry will beat arithmetic in Lok Sabha election 2019

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday called the Opposition the "nawabs of negativity" and said that any mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) will not be able to carry much credibility.

"Falsehood can never constitute a permanent narrative," the finance minister in New York told the gathering through video conference at CNBC-TV18 India Business Leaders Awards (IBLA) in Mumbai.

"Nawabs of negativity may come together but they are not going to carry much credibility. In the battle between chemistry and arithmetic, politics is something in which chemistry always succeeds," he said.

Arun Jaitley calls Opposition nawabs of negativity, says chemistry will beat arithmetic in Lok Sabha election 2019

File image of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. PTI

"The premise of the Opposition is a negative one: how to get one man out," he added.

On the issue of farm loan waivers, Jaitley, without mentioning the promise of farm loan waivers which the opposition Congress is pitching for, said "sloganised policies" never help the larger interest of the economy and it is the country's aspirations which will receive a setback in the process.

"The farm sector has been facing challenges. Farmers have hugely increased productivity. We have moved into surplus era. The management of that surplus has been constituting a challenge for us for the last several years. Food pricing is something which has actually gone down in India. And that reflects on the kind of money farmers get. Therefore, whether it is a situation like a calamity or drought, these are areas which cannot be considered any form of populist expenditure," he further said.

Jaitley also said that he was proud of his government's performance till now. "We have been too long in the game to have any nervousness. We are proud of what we have done. There are no jitters whether it's the vote on account or general elections," he said.

"If I look at the last five years, I have a lot to be satisfied with and if I look at the future, I have a lot to be impatient about. We succeeded in restoring the credibility of the decision-making process in the Indian economy," he added.

"There has been a huge transformational change in a department which was considered to be one of the most corrupt departments," said the finance minister. "While we have gone ahead with difficult economic reforms, we have been able to use the advantages of the additional revenue we got. We were able to transfer resources to infrastructure and also to the poor. In the past, the government only gave slogans to the poor," he added.

"Earlier, just about 38 percent of Indians were insured. In one go, we have been able to create the world's largest healthcare system for the poor. From 38 percent, India has now moved to a 78 percent insured society when it comes to healthcare," he said.

Jaitley also said that he doesn't think the 7-7.5 percent growth rate will suffice and India needs to cross the 8 percent barrier.

"As we get to the general elections, India needs to have a continuity of policies, stability and decisiveness," he said. "I will refrain from expressing views on any rate cut. We can't have a real rate of interest that's higher than anywhere else in the world."

Jaitley also stressed on the importance of fiscal prudence. "Fiscal prudence and discipline are things which get rewarded in the larger interest of the economy. We have seen the consequences of previous governments not sticking with fiscal prudence. Hence, the effort is to move on the glide path unless an unusual situation arises. When we came to power, we inherited a fiscal deficit of about 4.5 to 4.6 percent," he said.

Jaitley also said there is a need to elevate the political debate in the run-up to the elections and stressed that we cannot afford a "sloganised political debate" where emotional cries take over sound policy.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Jan 17, 2019 22:30:07 IST

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