Congress slams Narendra Modi's white paper as 'white lie' on economy

The party calls for focus on real issues like unemployment and border tensions and Manipur

Congress MP Jairam Ramesh (photo: IANS)
Congress MP Jairam Ramesh (photo: IANS)
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PTI

The Congress on Friday, 9 February, termed the Modi government's white paper on the economy a "white lie paper", and said it should have come out with a document on issues such as unemployment, border tensions and Manipur instead.

The government's white paper criticises the Congress-led UPA rule, saying it had turned the Indian economy into a non-performing one through indiscriminate revenue expenditure, off budget borrowings and a pile of bad debts at banks.

Terming the document a "hatchet job", senior Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram said in a statement, "It is a white-lie paper. Even the authors will not claim that it is an academic, well-researched or scholarly paper.

"It is a political exercise intended to damn the previous government and hide the present government's broken promises, monumental failures and betrayal of the poor."

He said a fair and unbiased assessment of any period will not start arbitrarily with 2004 and end abruptly in 2014.

"The paper released today is not a white paper; it is a paper that is intended to whitewash the many sins and commissions of the NDA government in the last 10 years," he said.

Chidambaram said the appropriate answer to the so-called white paper is the hard-hitting document titled "10 Saal, Anyay Kaal, 2014-2024".

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh echoed his colleague and said the the answer to the 'white lie paper' lies in the "10 Saal, Anyay Kaal..." document released by Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge.

"The black paper was a surgical strike on the white paper," he said

"The white paper (of the government) makes no mention of demonetisation, unemployment, inflation, and the rising economic disparity. The issues on which they should come out with a white paper is the border situation with China, border tensions... we have been demanding a white paper on that, they are silent on that," Ramesh told reporters outside Parliament.

He said the Congress has also been demanding a white paper on Manipur but the government had been silent on the matter.

"We had earlier asked for a white paper on demonetisation but they were silent on that also. There is no white paper on the 45-year high unemployment in the country....The white paper is yet another event. He (Modi) is an event manager as (L K) Advani ji had said," Ramesh said.

The government is "silent" on corruption and real issues like injustice to farmers, women and youth, he alleged.

"The PSUs are being sold to one or two of his friends," Ramesh alleged.

He also said ports, airports, railway, factories, oil refineries are being privatised.

Ramesh alleged that no government had made "wild promises" on assuming office as the Narendra Modi government had and then broken them without an expression of regret.

"In fact, the government laughed them away as election jumlas," he said, referring to promises, including two crore jobs a year, bringing back black money stashed abroad, Rs 15 lakh to every bank account, giving petrol, diesel at Rs 35 a litre and doubling of farmers' incomes.

In 2004, he said the UPA government had inherited an economy that had performed at a below-average rate in the previous six years.

"Yet, the Vajpayee government called the moment India Shining'. The slogan recoiled on the government. The BJP-government suffered an ignominious defeat. The authors of the white-lie paper may realise that history has a way of repeating itself," the former minister noted.

Fiscal deficit, he said, was 4.5 per cent during UPA and 5.8 per cent during NDA, while household saving as percentage of GDP was 23 per cent under UPA and 19 per cent under NDA.

The Congress had alleged on Thursday that the government's white paper on the country's economy under the UPA rule is aimed at hiding "the dark truth" and said hunger, price rise, unemployment and abject poverty are a lived reality for a vast majority of Indians under the Modi government.

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