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‘Stronger’ Chidambaram says Centre has no plans to lift economy

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on December 05, 2019 Published on December 05, 2019

P Chidambaram   -  Prashant Waydande

Released on bail after spending 106 days in the custody of investigating agencies and in Tihar Jail, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram told reporters at the AICC headquarters here on Thursday that he is a stronger person now.

“I was always strong in spirit, I am now stronger, I think but I have also become stronger bodily. Let me give you a hint — sleeping on a wooden board without a pillow strengthens your neck and spine and back. My spine is stronger, my neck is stronger and my head is stronger,” he said.

In his first press briefing after the release, the Congress leader also launched a scathing attack on the way economy is being run by the BJP Government at the Centre.

He said the Union government has offered no solutions, plans or reforms that would address the “structural problems” of the economy.

PSU divestments

He termed the strategic disinvestments of PSUs by the Centre a desperate move.

“The Government is going to face the huge fiscal deficit. It will be so huge that all of us would be astounded. The only way they can fill the gap is either to sell so-called strategic assets or to raid the RBI once again. They have already raided the RBI once and they got away with about ₹ 1.60 lakh crore — whether they can raid the RBI once again this year, I don’t know. So, the only alternative they have, is the so-called strategic sale, it is the fire sale, it is the distress sale, this is the desperate sale,” he said.

Painting a grim picture of the economy, he said the Centre’s assessment that the problem is cycilical is wrong. He said the Centre is clueless as it is “stubborn and mulish in defending its catastrophic mistakes like demonetisation, flawed GST, tax terrorism, regulatory overkill, protectionism, and centralised control of decision-making in the PMO”.

Slowdown

“Rural wages are down. Producer prices are down, especially for farmers. Daily wage earners get work for no more than 15 days a month. Demand for MGNREGA is up. FMCG — both durable and non-durable — are selling less. Wholesale prices are up. CPI is going up. Onions sell at ₹100 a kg. Of course, the finance minister does not eat onions. What do these points to? There is less demand among the people because they have less money and less appetite to consume due to uncertainty and fear,” he said.

The former Home Minister said there is complete fear everywhere.

“Every institution is gripped by fear and the media is no exception – I am sorry to say that – the media is no exception. You are gripped by fear – please shed fear. Please speak truth to the power. That is the least the people of India expect. We buy your newspaper, we subscribe to your channel, and we want you to speak truth to power,” he added.

Published on December 05, 2019
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