New Delhi: A day after being released from 106 days of incarceration, former finance minister P. Chidambaram hit the ground running. He took on the government on Thursday over the state of the economy and joined his Parliament colleagues to protest against the rising price of onions.
At the AICC headquarters, he said that even after seven months, the government believed that the economic slowdown was cyclical, but the “government is wrong”.
“It is wrong because it is clueless,” he said. “It is unable to look for the obvious clues because it is stubborn and mulish in defending its catastro-phic mistakes like demo-netisation, flawed GST, tax terrorism, regulatory over-kill, and centralised decision-making.”
He asserted that the slowdown was not cyclical but structural in nature, and that the government had no solutions or reforms that would address this problem.
“I believe that the Congress and some other parties are better equipped to pull the economy out of the slowdown and push economic growth, but we have to wait for better times,” he added.
He also questioned PM Narendra Modi’s “unusual silence” on the issue adding that Mr Modi’s silence had left his ministers to indulge in “bluff and bluster”.
On a question about industrialist Rahul Bajaj’s remarks that people were scared to criticise the government, Chidambaram said: “There is fear everywhere. Media is also gripped with fear”.
The senior Congress leader is also a former home minister and said he would like to visit Kashmir if the government allowed.
He said his first thoughts upon his release were with the Kashmiri people who “have been denied their basic freedoms since August 4, 2019”.
Asked if parallels can be drawn between the government’s assurances on Kashmir and on the economy, Chidambaram said no: as far as economy is concerned “the reason is incompetence while in Kashmir it is the government’s arrogance”.
On the withdrawal of SPG cover for the Gandhis, Chidambaram said if the government believed that the Gandhi family did not require SPG protection, “then that is a cross the government has to bear”....