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Note ban, GST ‘twin blow’ to economy, winds of change blowing in Gujarat: Manmohan

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Ahmedabad, Nov 7 : Former Prime Minister and leading economist, Manmohan Singh on Tuesday lashed out at the Narendra Modi-led NDA government over the “twin blow” of demonetisation and GST, which he termed a “complete disaster” for the economy and said that winds of change are blowing in Gujarat and time has come for Gujaratis to repose faith in the Congress party.

Reiterating his earlier statement when he termed demonetization an economic blunder, Manmohan Singh said that due to the effects of demonetization and the Goods and Services Tax (GST), Chinese imports have grown by a whopping 23 per cent in just one year.

In his speech campaign for the Congress party at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Memorial auditorium, Singh hit out at the NDA government for the two drastic steps taken said that November 8 was a ‘Black Day’ for the economy and democracy of the country.

“The cash in circulation after one year is close to 90 per cent of previous levels. The fact that more than 99 per cent of the demonetized currency came back into the system has punctured the government’s claims of its success.”

Addressing more than a thousand from the businessmen and traders fraternity, Singh said, “The pain of the informal sector is inadequately captured in the GDP calculations, as the 5.7 per cent under the new calculation is bound to be a gross underestimate. What is even more tragic is that none of the lessons from this monumental blunder has been learnt by the government.”

“Instead of providing relief to the poor and the marginalized farmers, traders and small and medium businesses as I had requested in the Parliament, who suffered the brunt of demonetization, the government chose to inflict on them a badly designed and hastily implemented GST.”

According to the former Prime Minister, “this twin blow was a complete disaster for our economy, breaking the back of small and medium business in India”.

“India’s imports from China stood at Rs 1.96 lakh crore in the first half of 2016-17. During the same period in 2017-18, it increased to Rs 2.41 lakh crore, an unprecedented increase of 23 per cent in imports, attributed mainly to demonetization and GST.”

“What is terrible for the country is that, the fear of tax terrorism has eroded confidence of businesses to invest. The growth in private investment is at a 25-year low. Did the Prime Minister stop to consider the wisdom of Mahatma when asking the Governor to sign on the dotted line of demonetization or while implementing GST in haste? Did he think about the impact on those who toil in informal sector whose earnings dried up because of shortage of cash? Did he think about the millions of people who lost jobs and had to return to their villages in despair? If the Prime Minister had paid attention to the Mahatma’s talisman, the poor of India would not have to suffer the way they did,” said Singh.

On the GST front, he said, “When undertaking the endeavour of One Nation, One Tax, if the Prime Minister had taken inspiration from the resolve and attention to detail of Sardar Patel, the outcome would have been different. Bravado and drama are poor substitutes for courage with conviction and the ability to execute well.”

“Today, one year after demonetization, large sections of the country feel that they have been taken for a ride by their government. Their trust has been betrayed,” said Manmohan Singh.

The former Prime Minister even criticized the ‘Bullet Train’ project. He said, “While our existing passenger rail network is lanquishing and needs a dire infusion of funds to improve both safety and speed, the ‘Bullet Train’ project was launched with much fanfare, sadly an exercise in vanity and which will neither benefit the 6.5 crore Gujaratis nor the nation. The past year saw the highest number of deaths due to derailment accidents in more than a decade, but the government’s priorities are misplaced.”

“Did the Prime Minister consider the alternative of introducing high speed rail network across India and upgrade the existing infrastructure? Instead of the Bullet Train project, the UPA government had requested the Japanese to fund the ‘Dedicated Freight Corridor’ and signed the deal in 2005. The UPA project will create a multiplier effect on the economy with upgradation of transportation technology, increase productivity and reduction in unit transportation costs,” Singh added.

Questioning the rationale behind the anti-nationalistic slur thrown on those who question Narendra Modi and the NDA, Singh asked, “By questioning the Bullet Train, does one become anti-development. By questioning the outcome of demonetization and GST, does one become a tax evader? Does questioning the drop in GDP make one an anti-national?”

“My friends, questions must be asked again and again on the soundness of policy and the lack of transparency,” he said.

Coming to the issues faced by Gujarat state, which has been dubbed as the model state in the country by the BJP, Singh said, “While across India, the title deeds to the forest dwellers and tribal have been disposed of at the rate of 87 per cent, Gujarat lagged behind with a poor 44 per cent. On every social indicator like infant mortality rate, maternal mortality rate, female literacy, Gujarat has fallen behind the best performing states like Himachal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka.”

On the numerous agitations among the youth of different sections of society in Gujarat, Singh said, “The winds of change are blowing in Gujarat. The agitations are an indication of the deep dissatisfaction with the performance of successive BJP governments in Gujarat. The Congress will ensure the voice of every Gujarati, regardless of caste, creed, gender or class will be heard.”

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‘Clown prince’ vs ‘court jester’: BJP-Congress spat gets uglier

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New Delhi, Sep 20 (IANS) The war of words between the BJP and the Congress over the Rafale deal and bank NPAs got uglier on Thursday with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley calling Congress President a “clown prince” and in turn getting dubbed a “court jester” by the grand old party.

Countering Congress’ relentless attack on the Narendra Modi government over the France-made jets and bad loans of banks, Jaitley took to the social media to accuse Gandhi of “concocting lies” on the twin issues and blamed him for “polluting” public discourse.

“His strategy is simple, concoct a lie and repeat it as many times as possible,” said Jaitley dismissing as false Gandhi’s claims of Prime Minister Modi waiving off Rs 250,000 crore of 15 industrialists.

“The world’s largest democracy must seriously introspect whether public discourse should be allowed to be polluted by the falsehood of a ‘clown prince’,” he wrote.

Jaitley said the amount referred to by Gandhi was lent by the banks prior to 2014 during the UPA regime, which then “kept rolling over the loans to conceal them (as) loans despite the default”.

“The truth is that your government allowed the banks to be looted,” alleged Jaitley.

The Congress lost no time in getting back at the Finance Minister.

“Jaitley is desperate in his attempt to stay relevant as a court jester to Modi Sultanate. Abuse, diversion and deception are the desperate tools of a ‘Lying -Jait-LIE’,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said in a statement.

The Congress demanded Jaitley to coherently answer politically-relevant issues instead of “hiding behind the cloak of expletives for the opposition”.

It posed 10 questions to Jaitley on the “Rafale scam” that include as to why Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) was “superseded” for Rs 30,000-crore contract to benefit cronies, why transfer of technology was “sacrificed” and why “national security was compromised” by reducing the number of aircraft from 126 to 36.

“Since your answers to the 10 questions are zero, cuss words are your only refuge,” said the party which has been gunning for the Modi government over the Rafale deal which according to the party has caused “loss” to the exchequer and “endangered” national security.

Besides approaching Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) Rajiv Mehrishi for a special and forensic audit and demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the deal, the Congress has also sought the resignation of Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman over the issue.

Alleging Modi government’s “collusion with bank looters”, the Congress also posed five questions on the issue of surging bank NPAs (non-performing assets).

Countering Jaitley assertions of NPAs being a UPA legacy, the Congress pointed to Finance Ministry’s July 2018 reply in Parliament claiming “NPA’s stood at Rs 2,51,054 crore when demitted power and they have increased to a whopping Rs 9,61,962 crore by March 2018. NPA’s now stand at Rs 12,00,000 crore”.

Wondering if Jaitley lied in his blogpost or in Parliament, the Congress dared him to publicly state the amount of loans given in the last 52 months of the Modi government along with details as to how much of those loans have become NPAs.

“How much worth of loans were ever-greened and restructured. How much worth of loans became defaults and wilful defaults. How many wilful defaulters escaped from India and with how much amount of money during 52 months of Modi government?” the party said.

“How many economic offenders, defaulters and looters did you bring back to India and jailed?” the party said yet again attacking Jaitley over his “meeting” with now fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya.

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Now Congress calls Arun Jaitley ‘court jester’

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Randdeep Surjewala

New Delhi, Sep 20: Hitting back at Arun Jaitley, the Congress on Thursday dubbed the Finance Minister a “court jester” who is “desperate to stay relevant”.

Amid the relentless trading of charges between the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the Rafale deal, Jaitley on the day took to social media to accuse Gandhi of “concocting lies” on the deal for the France made fighter jets and the bad loans of banks.

He said the Congress leader was “polluting” public discourse.

Hitting back, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala, in a tweet, called the BJP leader a “court jester” and demanded answers on the Rs 41,000 crore Rafale “scam”.

“And yes ‘Jait-LIE’ ji (sic), the desperate quest to stay relevant of a ‘court jester’ by wasteful blogs continues.

“Please reply: Why hide behind abuse when trapped in Rafale maze? Why supersede HAL for Rs 30,000 crore contract? Why no answer on Rs 41,000 crore loss in Rafale Scam,” said Surjewala in his response to Jaitley’s tweets.

The Congress has been gunning for the Narendra Modi-led government over the Rafale deal. Besides approaching Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) Rajiv Mehrishi for a special and forensic audit and demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the deal, the party has also sought the resignation of Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman over the issue.

The Modi-led government and the BJP have been dismissive of all the charges by the Congress.

IANS

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Rahul Gandhi concocting lies on Rafale, NPAs: Arun Jaitley

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Arun Jaitley

New Delhi, Sep 20: Calling him a “clown prince”, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday accused Congress President Rahul Gandhi of “concocting lies” on the Rafale fighter jets deal and the bad loans of banks. The Congress leader was “polluting” public discourse, Jaitley said.

In a Facebook post, he said Gandhi first “lied” on the Rafale deal and was now lying on the non-performing assets (NPAs) claiming that the BJP government had waived loans of 15 industrialists amounting to Rs 2.5 lakh crore. Not a single rupee of any debtor had been waived, he said.

“His (Gandhi’s) strategy is simple, concoct a lie and repeat it as many times” as possible, Jaitley said and wondered whether a person with a “temperament to concoct facts” deserved to be a part of the public discourse.

“The world’s largest democracy must seriously introspect whether public discourse should be allowed to be polluted by the falsehood of a ‘clown prince’,” he added.

Referring to Gandhi winking at his party men after hugging Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the parliament, the BJP leader said the public discourse was a serious activity, not a laughter challenge, and that it could not be reduced to a “hug, a wink or repetition of falsehood”.

“In mature democracies those who rely on falsehood are considered unfit for public life. Many have been banished from political activity because they were caught lying. But this rule obviously can’t apply to a dynastic organisation like Congress party,” he said.

“If the Rafale concoctions were the first big lie, the second one stated repeatedly is that Modi waived of Rs 2.5 lakh crore of 15 industrialists. Every word of that sentence repeatedly uttered by Rahul Gandhi is false,” he added.

Jaitley said the amount being referred to by Gandhi were lent by the banks prior to 2014 when the UPA government was in power, which then “kept rolling over the loans to conceal them (as) loans despite the default”.

“The truth, Mr. Rahul Gandhi, is that your government allowed the banks to be looted. The loans were inadequately securitized. Your government was in complicity… By repeating a lie on several occasions, you can’t change that reality,” he said.

The Finance Minister said while the UPA leaders claimed that when they went out of power, the NPAs were only Rs 2.5 lakh crore. The truth was that NPAs were actually Rs 8.96 lakh crore and were hidden under the carpet as revealed by an asset quality review conducted by the Reserve Bank of India.

He said no effective steps were taken by the UPA to recover or reduce the NPAs and post 2014-15, they increased not because more money was lent but because interest was mounting on the overdue amounts.

“The only effective move which has taken place in this regard is the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC). It has changed the debtor-creditor relationship in India.”

He said the Reserve Bank of India had identified the twelve major defaulters who jointly owed about Rs 3 lakh crore to various banks.

“The banks under UPA took no steps to recover these loans. They did not prosecute a single major debtor who had siphoned off money. It is the NDA government which through IBC, changed the debtor-creditor relationship and enabled the banks to effectively pursue the recovery,” Jaitley said.

IANS

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