New Delhi: Former finance minister P Chidambaram flayed the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP government for the sharp decline in GDP numbers. The Indian economy shrank a record-shattering 23.9 percent during the April-June quarter this year. The GDP contraction was much worse than the forecast of 18.3 percent drop. It is the biggest contraction on record as the coronavirus crisis took a big toll on the economy.
Chidambaram said all this had been anticipated and the Congress had warned the government and urged it to take preventive and preemptive measures. It will take many months before the economy turns the corner and registers positive growth, he said.
“Our pleas fell on deaf ears. The country, as a whole, is paying a heavy price, the poor and the vulnerable are in despair. It is only the Modi government that was nonchalant and uncaring. The government peddled a fake narrative, but that narrative has been exploded today by the CSO estimates,” Chidambaram said.
“Let me say with regret: it will take many months before the economy turns the corner and registers positive growth. The inaction and ineptitude of the government give us no hope that we will see light at the end of the tunnel at any time soon,” the former finance minister said.
He said the GDP in the first quarter has declined by a whopping 23.9 percent, which means about one-quarter of the gross domestic output as on June 30, 2019, has been wiped out in the last 12 months or the gross domestic output has fallen by about 20 percent since the end of 2019-20.
The Congress leader said the only sectors that had grown are Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing at 3.4 percent, and the Finance Minister, who blamed an ‘Act of God’ for the economic decline, should be grateful to the farmers and the gods who blessed the farmers.
“The estimates do not come as a surprise to us. They should be a matter of surprise to the government that was seeing ‘green shoots’ during the first quarter. It should also be a matter of shame to the government that did nothing — literally nothing — to cushion the fall by taking suitable fiscal and welfare measures, but we know that the Modi government has no shame and will not acknowledge its mistakes,” the Congress leader alleged.
Chidambaram said the economic tragedy was foretold by many close observers of the Indian economy, most recently by the RBI in its Annual Report released a few days ago.
“Of the world’s major and advanced economies, India’s economy declined more than any other country’s except the economy of the United States. What does that tell us? That Mr Modi stands second only to Mr Trump in terms of incompetent economic mismanagement,” Chidambaram said in a tweet.
India imposed one of the strictest lockdowns in the world on March 25, bringing all economic activities to a grinding halt. While businesses and economic activity have started picking up since then, India’s economy still doesn’t seem to be out of the woods.
India will be officially in recession if GDP contracts in the current quarter —July-September — too, which most experts reckon would take place.