Former Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha stirred up a storm on Wednesday when he wrote a hard-hitting article titled ‘I need to speak up now’ in The Indian Express. Criticising Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for the economic slowdown, the veteran BJP leader accused Mr. Jaitley of making a “mess” of the economy.
Mr. Sinha’s piece triggered sharp responses from leaders across parties. While the government rejected his accusations, the opposition leaders hailed him for “speaking truth to the power.” Here are the reactions of some of the political leaders on the issue.
Jayant Sinha, Minister of State for Civil Aviation
Jayant Sinha, the son of Yashwant Sinha, in an article that was shared on Twitter by the Prime Minister’s Office, wrote that many of the articles on the challenges faced by the Indian economy were drawing “sweeping conclusions from a narrow set of facts.” He added that one or two quarters of GDP growth and other macro data are quite inadequate to evaluate the long-term impact of the structural reforms under way.
Reacting to this, the senior Sinha told the ANI that “when we talk about ‘long run’, I am reminded of a Keynes quote – ‘In the long run, we are all dead.’”
P. Chidambaram, Congress leader and former Finance Minister
“We are happy that Yashwant Sinha has echoed our criticism,” Mr. Chidambaram said. Mr. Sinha’s views were not different from what MPs belonging to the BJP and other parties “have told us since many months privately and in soft whispers,” he added.
Rajnath Singh, Home Minister
“The whole world admits that India is the fastest growing economy in the world. No one should forget this fact. In the matter of economy, in the international arena, India’s credibility has been established,” Mr. Singh said.
Piyush Goyal, Railway Minister
Mr. Goyal, who has often articulated the government’s view on economy, said that while Mr. Sinha is entitled to his opinion, the government would not flinch due to some criticism and that it would “stay the course” as it works to transform the economy.
“There is bound to be some uncertainty when some transformative changes are made. It (economy) may take some amount of time to absorb these changes but this will pass. Challenges come but we will stay the course. The government is steadfast in its resolve to end black money and corruption. It won’t flinch due to some criticism,” he said.
Shatrughnan Sinha, BJP MP representing Bihar in Lok Sabha
Shatrughnan Sinha, in a series of tweets, extended his support to the senior BJP leader. “Mr. Sinha is a true statesman and a tried and tested man of wisdom, who has proven himself as one of the best and most successful Finance Ministers of the country,” tweeted the actor-turned-politician.
“He has shown the mirror on the economic condition of India and has hit the nail right on the head. Mr. Sinha’s utterances are always very well thought through & must always be taken seriously. It would be childish to be dismissive of or to make light of his recent observations. Our elder brother must be appreciated and applauded for coming out with this,” he added.
The Patna MP went on to praise Arun Shourie, another BJP veteran who has been critical of the current government, and said that Mr. Sinha and Mr. Shourie were extremely learned and experienced intellectuals who do not have any ulterior motives.
“Neither has any expectation or interest in being given a post (or ministership), especially with the next elections less than 2 years away,” tweeted the MP. “I am of the firm opinion that everything that has been written by Mr. Sinha is entirely in the party’s and national interest. Only recently our Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reiterated that the nation is bigger than the party, so national interest comes first.”
Stressing that we live in a democracy where intelligent exchange of ideas is welcome, Mr. Shatrughnan Sinha said that difference of opinion is natural but “you should be able to rebut someone’s views point by point, with strong & pointed arguments and not take recourse to evasive and general statements. Sadly, I am yet to hear even one point by point rebuttal.”
Rahul Gandhi, vice-president of Congress
Mr. Gandhi took to Twitter to take a dig at Mr. Jaitley. Quote-tweeting the interview, he tweeted “Ladies & Gentlemen, this is your copilot & FM speaking. Plz fasten your seat belts & take brace position. The wings have fallen off our plane”
Manish Sisodia, Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister
“Yashwant Sinha has reiterated what many leading economists have been saying in recent months — Indian economy is already a mess and it is further headed for disaster.”