The BJP came to power with a renewed and strong mandate.

But instead of addressing core issues that concerns the people, the government has spent the first seven months on issues that are far removed from the minds of the people to push the RSS’ agenda of Hindu Rashtra, said senior Congress leader and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram.

The government should have set out a clear agenda on addressing issues like growth, attracting investment, generating employment, improving rural wages/welfare and improving consumption. Instead, they took up issues such as criminalisation of Triple Talaq; the NRC exercise in Assam; the repeal of Article 370 and now the rushed enactment of the Citizenship Amendment Act.

“Are these the most pressing concerns? They may be concerns but far lower than the priority,” he said, adding “Indian politics is more fractious today than it was a year ago. Political stability is weaker and vulnerable than what it was a year ago.”

The former Finance Minister was speaking on “The Current National Situation — Where are we headed ?” organised by the Chennai International Centre. N Ram, Chairman, THG Publishing Private Ltd, moderated the talk.

As the year 2019 draws to a close, there is bad news every day on the economic front. Manufacturing output has shrunk; exports, imports, credit growth and investment are all down, he said.

Quoting from a research paper co-authored by former Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian with Josh Felman, former head of the International Monetary Fund’s India office, Chidambaram said, “This is not an ordinary slowdown but India’s great slowdown where the economy is headed to the Intensive Care Unit.” However, the media did not report this, he added.

In terms of economic status, India should have become a middle income country with a per capita of $4,000 and the intra-State and Inter-State issues should have been, by and large, resolved. The use or misuse of religion in politics should have been ruthlessly curbed.

Undoubtedly, there have been impressive achievements such as remaining a democracy; rise in life expectancy and literacy; reduction in poverty and acquiring significant place in international forums; like world trade and finance bodies and making a bold entry in to atomic energy and space. “However, India has failed woefully and the biggest failure has been our under performance in economic front,” he said.

Many institutions have abdicated their responsibilities. The steepest fall has been in the case of Election Commission and the Reserve Bank of India, he added.