Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday said the Congress mastered the art of ruining accomplishments of the previous government as they did while managing inflation during the 10-year UPA regime. She also said there was mismanagement of the economy during 2004-2014 by the Congress-led UPA government.
Making these assertions during her reply to a short duration discussion on ‘White Paper on Indian Economy’ in the Rajya Sabha, Sitharaman said the Modi-led government toiled for 10 years to bring the economy back on track, taking India from ‘Fragile Five’ to 5th largest economy of the world. She said India is soon going to become the world’s third largest economy.
Opposition parties walked out of the Rajya Sabha opposing the BJP government’s white paper on the economy, with the CPI(M) also refusing to participate in the discussion on the Ram temple in the House.
Sitharaman said the inflation rate was below 4 per cent in the last year of Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, but it remained significantly high during the 10-year UPA regime. “Gur ko gobar karna inki mastery hai (Congress has mastery of ruining something that has been accomplished),” she said.
Giving reasons for coming out with the White Paper now, Sitharaman said a similar exercise earlier would have impacted the confidence of institutions, investors, as well as the people.
As an elected government, she said it is imperative to inform the public and Parliament about the true picture of the economy during the UPA regime and efforts taken by the Modi government to revive the economy.
In an apparent jibe at the erstwhile National Advisory Council headed by Sonia Gandhi, the finance minister said India needs a clean and accountable governance, and not governance through extra-constitutional body.
Sitharaman highlighted various measures taken by the Modi government to restore the economy back on track. She also said unemployment rate for graduates declined from 17.3 per cent in 2017 to 13.4 per cent in 2023.
Members of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) were among those who walked out over the white paper brought by the government in Parliament to compare the state of the economy during the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regimes.
Participating in the discussion on the white paper in the Rajya Sabha, CPI(M) member John Brittas said, “Protesting against the discrimination shown to Kerala, we are walking out. “We are also not party to communalise the political situation,” he said on the discussion on the Ram temple, held after that on the white paper.
“This is not a white paper. This is an election paper. Selective amnesia and cherry picking. Finance minister (Nirmala Sitharaman) has said 2004-2009 was a good period but she gave the credit to the previous (NDA) government. Strange enough,” the leader of the Left party said.
When he was talking about reduction in devolution of funds for Kerala, Finance Minister Sitharaman intervened and said, “I would like to speak out of turn because you are going away. You won’t be here to listen to my reply.”
“I would like to say now...That many of the things he is saying are sprucing up his speech but words which I have not used. So, I still take this liberty in my reply when the honourable member will not be here. But I am sorry he is taking liberty with my words,” she said.
On this, Brittas said, “She can make a reply and I can go to the record and see. I will see the video.”
Tiruchi Siva(DMK) claimed that 700 farmers had died during the agitation against the farm laws that were later withdrawn by the government. Hundreds of people died in front of banks standing in queues to change notes during the demonetisation period, he claimed.
He also brought to the notice of the House the poor state of migrant workers during the Covid lockdown.
Saket Gokhale(TMC)said, “On behalf of my party, Trinamool Congress, we reject this white paper which not only insults the collective intelligence of Parliament but also seeks to cheat and fool the people of India.” Amar Patnaik(BJD)also participated in the discussion demand more devolution of funds for Odisha.
The Congress said the White Paper on the economy was brought by the government to hide the “dark truths” of this country and divert attention from the burning issues of unemployment, price rise, farmers’ stress and the state of the economy.
Stating this, Congress leader K C Venugopal alleged that the government has used this as a defence for itself by diverting from the issues before the country.
He also accused the government of using the Bharat Ratna award for political purposes, even though he welcomed the award to former prime ministers Narasimha Rao and Chaudhary Charan Singh and agriculture scientist M S Swaminathan.
Venugopal asked why the finance ministry did not even mention the impact of demonetisation in the White Paper and why it does not make any mention of unemployment rate, poverty and rupee value in the White Paper on the Indian economy.
Senior BJP leader in Rajya Sabha Sushil Modi termed the previous UPA government as the most corrupt regime India has ever seen but the opposition hit back saying common people experience corruption everyday but the current government refuses to see it.
Initiating the discussion on ‘White Paper on Indian Economy’ in the Upper House, Sushil Modi attacked the Congress for economic mismanagement and scams during the 10 years of the UPA rule.
He listed out the achievements of the Narendra Modi-led government and reeled out data comparing the progress made during 2014-2024 with that of the UPA regime. Fauzia Khan (NCP) said,”More than calling it a white paper on the Indian economy, I would call it a white paper on the upcoming elections.”