Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram referred to the white paper presented on the Indian economy in Parliament as a “white-lie paper” and a “hatchet job”.
“The White Paper put out by the government is a hatchet job. It is a white-lie paper. Even the authors will not claim that it is an academic, well-researched or scholarly paper,” Chidambaram said in a statement.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented a “white paper” on the Indian economy in Parliament on Thursday.
The document, which has been prepared by the Ministry of Finance, essentially compares the 10-year record of economic governance under the Congress-led UPA governments (between 2004-05 and 2013-14) with the 10-year record of the BJP-led NDA governments (between 2014-15 and 2023-24).
Chidambaram said that the white paper is a “political exercise” to hide the Narendra Modi government’s “broken promises”.
“It is a political exercise intended to damn the previous government and hide the present government’s broken promises, monumental failures and betrayal of the poor,” he said.
A fair and unbiased assessment of any period will not start arbitrarily with 2004 and end abruptly in 2014. It would have assessed a reasonable period before 2004 and included a reasonable period after 2014, Chidambaram said.
The former Finance Minister said that the “white paper” is intended to “whitewash” the sins and commissions of the Narendra Modi government in the past 10 years.
“The paper released today is not a white paper; it is a paper that is intended to whitewash the many sins and commissions of the NDA government in the last 10 years,” Chidambaram said.
Hitting out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, the Finance Minister said, “The appropriate answer to the so-called white paper is the hard-hitting document titled ’10 Saal, Anyay Kaal, 2014-2024′.”
Speaking about the promises made by the BJP as part of their election campaigns, Chidambaram referred to them as “election jumlas”.
“No government on assuming office had made wild promises as the Narendra Modi government and broken them without an expression of regret. In fact, the government laughed them away as election jumlas,” he said.
Listing out some of these “election jumlas” Chidambaram said, “two crore jobs a year; bring back black money stashed abroad in 100 days; Rs 15 lakh to every citizen in his or her bank account; petrol, diesel at Rs 35 a litre; farmers’ incomes will be doubled; achieve USD 5 trillion economy by 2023-24; house to every family by 2022; 100 smart cities by 2022.”
Speaking about the NDA government that was in power before 2004, when the Congress-led UPA government was sworn in, Chidambaram said, “In 2004, the UPA government had inherited an economy that had performed at a below-average rate in the previous 6 years. Yet, the Vajpayee government called the moment ‘India Shining’. The slogan recoiled on the government. The BJP-government suffered an ignominious defeat.”
“The authors of the white-lie paper may realize that history has a way of repeating itself,” he added.
The former Finance Minister mentioned that the authors of the “white-lie” paper did not realise that every government builds on the work of predecessor governments.
“Every government stands on the shoulders of the previous government(s). For example, but for Jawaharlal Nehru and his colleagues, India would not be a parliamentary democracy. Every government builds on the work of the predecessor governments. This fundamental truth has escaped the authors of the white-lie paper,” Chidambaram said.
Pointing out at the “comparative performance” of the UPA and the NDA governments, the former Finance Minister said, “The one number that sums up the state of the economy is the GDP growth rate. Never before in a period of 5 years had India achieved a growth rate of 8 per cent as it did in 2004-2009. Never before in a period of 10 years had India achieved a growth rate of 7.5 per cent as it did in 2004-2014.”
“The Indian economy recorded the ‘golden period of growth’ in the three years between 2005-06 and 2007-08 when the GDP grew at 9 per cent or more at an average of 9.5 per cent. The Indian economy achieved its best fiscal performance in 2007-08 when the fiscal deficit was 2.5 per cent and the revenue deficit was 1.1 per cent,” he added