By rebutting Yashwant Sinha, son Jayant may have ensured he will stay afloat in Narendra Modi govt

On the face of it, this might appear to be a father versus son story. A day after father Yashwant Sinha came out all guns blazing at the Narendra Modi government, in particular against Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, for creating a mess out of the Indian economy, son Jayant Sinha went public rebutting his father's arguments albeit without naming him.

"I need to speak up now — the economy is on a downward spiral, is poised for a hard landing. Many in the BJP know it but do not say it out of fear," said Yashwant Sinha in an article in The Indian Express on Wednesday.

Father Yashwant and son Jayant Sinha. AFP

Father Yashwant and son Jayant Sinha. AFP

On Thursday, son Jayant Sinha chose to write his rejoinder in The Times of India. "New economy for new India: Fundamental changes put in place for an open, transparent, competitive and innovation-driven economy," he wrote. "Several articles have been written recently on the challenges facing the Indian economy. Unfortunately, these articles draw sweeping conclusions from a narrow set of facts, and quite simply miss the fundamental structural reforms that are transforming the economy."

On the other hand, Yashwant Sinha says at the start: "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."

Yashwant Sinha thinks that implementation of two back-to-back disruptive measures have "played havoc with businesses and sunk many of them and countless millions have lost their jobs with hardly any new opportunities coming the way of the new entrants to the labour market".

Jayant Sinha believes, "GST, demonetisation and digital payments are game-changing efforts to formalise India’s economy. These structural reforms are not just desirable, they are necessary to create a ‘New India’ and provide good jobs for our billion-strong workforce."

Father Yashwant concluded his piece by saying, "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."

But his son concludes, "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."

The PMO tweeted about Jayant Sinha’s article and gave the link.

No BJP leader or minister except Piyush Goel had spoken on Yashwant Sinha's article on Thursday.

Throughout his piece, Jayant Sinha keeps referring to 'New India', Yashwant does not refer to new or old India. He simply refers to the economic situation as he sees.

Does it mean that that 54-year-old Jayant Sinha sees onset of New India in the near future and current problems are only transient, something his 84-year-old father fails to see? Does it mean father and son have fallen out? Does it mean that the father, an IAS-turned-politician and accomplished administrator, is not reconciling with the present and realises that he, howsoever good and bright he may have been, is now past? He may have immense institutional knowledge as foreign affairs minister and finance minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government but the present dispensation does not consider worthy of consultation. Does it mean that son, a former IITian, business administrator cum consultant turned politician, Jayant is not recognising that his father’s wisdom is immense, he had for long been in pivotal position and can read early signs of rough weather?

Cartoon by Manjul.

Cartoon by Manjul.

However, the most important question is this: Does Yashwant Sinha not realise that by saying things against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, he may be jeopardising the political future of his son, first-time MP and minister of state in civil aviation?

Those who have seen Yashwant Sinha's politics from close quarters and the rise of Jayant Sinha say there may be disagreement of opinion over an issue between father and son but the two have the best of relationships. The father lives in Noida at a house he built ages ago; son lives in a sprawling bungalow in Lutyens Delhi. That geographical distance apart, the two are not known to be unmindful of each other's positions.

This is not the first time Sinha senior has spoken out against the policies and practices of Prime Minister Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. He has always spoken his mind, with reason and with force. But he had been silent at least since February 2016 when a "misquoted" remark about Modi's political future at a conclave in Goa was not taken well by the BJP leadership and saffron sympathisers.

After a self-imposed gag of a year-and-a-half, he has now said that he 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". Interestingly, until July last year, son Jayant was serving as junior minister of finance under Jaitley.

Sinha junior had made his impact felt in the finance ministry. He was given significant work. He was interacting with top officials and leading businessmen on various matters and was also articulating the government's position on important issues concerning the ministry. It should be noted that he was shifted to the civil aviation ministry in July 2016. At that time, he had the distinction of hitting the headlines in the Cabinet reshuffle that saw the induction of 19 new ministers, a change in the portfolios of nine Cabinet ministers and 13 ministers of state. Firstpost had then noted that no other minister of state in history had got even a fraction of the publicity he received, and the intense public debate that his transfer generated.

In the 2014 parliamentary elections, Yashwant Sinha, following an unwritten diktat from the RSS about retirement of 75-plus leaders, had voluntarily withdrawn from electoral politics and pushed for his son's candidature from Hazaribagh in Jharkhand. Jayant Sinha won elections and Modi saw in him the kind of talent he was looking for in his ministers. Jayant Sinha had all the qualities to rise in the party and in the government where the talent pool is otherwise poor.

By writing a rebuttal to his father's assessment of Indian economy, he might have done what was needed for him to stay afloat in the government and wait for a better day in the future.


Updated Date: Sep 28, 2017 20:14 PM

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