27/05/2015 2:14 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

Manmohan Singh: I Have Not Used My Public Office To Enrich Myself


NEW DELHI -- Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday lashed out against the Modi government and denied allegations that he had used his public office to further personal interests.

He also said that institutions of democracy were under threat and the entire edifice of the welfare state was now being dismantled, alluding to the policies of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party under the leadership of Narendra Modi.

"I can say in all humility that I have not used my public office to enrich myself, my family, or my friends," Singh said. "BJP keeps harping on corruption to divert people's attention to non-issues."

He said that institutions of democracy are "under threat." "The entire edifice of the welfare state is now being dismantled in the guise of promoting faster economic growth, whereas they are two sides of the same coin," he said on Wednesday.

He was speaking at the National Students' Union of India (NSUI)'s national convention. NSUI is Congress' student activism wing. Yesterday, Singh had come under fire after former TRAI chairman Pradip Baijal alleged in his self-published book that the former PM had asked for his cooperation in the 2G spectrum case, even warning him of harm if he refused. Singh has also been named as one of the accused in the coal block allocation scam.

Singh denied that there was a policy paralysis in the previous UPA government, calling it "totally untrue." He claimed that at the end of Congress' decade-long administration, India's economy grew at an average annual rate of 8.5 percent.

"This is an all-time record," he said. "We were the fastest growing economy after China."

Alleging that the BJP government has had to "manufacture and modify some statistical data" to show that India's economic growth hasn't been poor, Singh claimed that BJP's own people say that the recovery has been "very fragile", referring to Arvind Subramanian, the government's chief economic adviser, and Raghuram Rajan, governor of Reserve Bank of India.

Singh, who is a talented economist and has held key economic positions in the union government, said on Wednesday that "all is not well with the state of our economy." Referring to farmers' distress, stagnant investment growth and decline in agricultural production and exports, Singh said these were big indicators of poor economy.

"Throughout the country, there is acute distress in rural areas, where 65 percent of our people live," he said. "If they are dissatisfied, fed up in one year, then things cannot be that good."

BJP was quick to react to Singh's allegations, saying that despite him being an eminent economist, he had not done much to help the country's growth. "What you see as fragility of the economy is in fact a restructuring of a broken economy," said Sambit Patra, BJP's national spokesperson. "We are fixing what you have already broken," Patra said.

Singh also attacked Modi's big push for "Make In India", calling it a "carbon copy" of what the UPA government had chalked out, pledging at the time of their governance that the manufacturing sector would raise 25 percent of the GDP. He claimed that the UPA government was proud of its achievements, claiming they had revitalised and expanded educational facilities, and significantly contributed to health services both in the rural and urban areas.

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