NEWS
05/05/2019 4:46 PM IST | Updated 05/05/2019 7:41 PM IST

India Headed For Slowdown; Modi Govt Left Economy In Dire Straits: Ex-PM Manmohan Singh

The former Prime Minister also claimed in an exclusive interview with PTI that demonetisation was the "biggest scam" in independent India.

Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Former Prime Minister (standing), President Ramnath Kovind (Left), Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Middle) and BJP President Amit Shah (Right) in a file photo. 

NEW DELHI―Former prime minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday said India is headed for an economic slowdown and accused the Modi government of leaving the economy in dire straits due to its “lack of economic vision”.

Citing the latest economic growth figures to suggest an impending slowdown, the senior Congress leader also said the Indian economy is “over-regulated” and the government controls and interferences are aplenty with even regulators having “morphed into controllers”. 

He also rued the “growing interference” of courts in the economic policies, and said the Congress would have handled the economy differently.

In an interview to PTI, the two-time prime minister, who is credited with spearheading India’s economic reform process, alleged that the lack of any vision or understanding of the country’s dynamics of economy by the Narendra Modi-led government has led to “disruptive” decisions like demonetisation.

“Finance Ministry’s latest monthly report now reflects that the country is headed for a slowdown and it has revised the GDP growth figures for this quarter (January April) to just 6.5 per cent,” Singh said.

He said the declining growth of private consumption, tepid increase in fixed investment and muted exports are the key factors which have led to this situation.

“I have no qualms in saying that the Modi government has left our economy in dire straits,” he said.

Singh said the demonetisation was perhaps “the biggest scam” of independent India, dealt a blow on the country’s economy and decimated the informal and unorganised sectors with crores of people turning jobless.

“This was nothing but a criminal act of betrayal for those people who elected this government with such a brute majority,” he said. 

“The current government boasts of getting investment, but the reality is that the FDI growth is at a five-year low. Core (indrastructure) sector growth is at a two-year low. Rupee has become Asia’s worst-performing currency. All these are a cause of serious concern,” he said.

Singh said had the Modi government followed the path shown by the previous governments of high economic growth and rapid development, the country could have eliminated poverty in the last five years. 

“Instead, they inflicted disruptive and unnecessary decisions like demonetisation on the economy. This is borne out of a lack of economic vision or understanding the dynamics of our economy,” he said. 

“Given the extraordinary majority the Modi government enjoyed in Parliament, they could have used their political capital to reap benefits for India on the economic front. Unfortunately they have fallen flat,” he said.

In a bid to counter the BJP’s focus on the issues of nationalism and terrorism in this election, the former prime minister sought to question Modi’s commitment. 

He said it was “distressing” to note that Modi was “filming movies” in the Jim Corbett National Park instead of chairing any meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) in the immediate aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.

He claimed the “gross intelligence failure” in Pulwama speaks volumes about this government’s preparedness to tackle terror.

Let’s not forget that Narendra Modi’s slipshod policy on Pakistan has been marred by a series of flip-flops- from going to Pakistan uninvited to inviting the rogue ISI to investigate the Pathankot Air Base terror attack. Does it not speak volumes about the strategic failures of Modi Government on national security front: Manmohan Singh

“Let’s not forget that Narendra Modi’s slipshod policy on Pakistan has been marred by a series of flip-flops- from going to Pakistan uninvited to inviting the rogue ISI to investigate the Pathankot Air Base terror attack. Does it not speak volumes about the strategic failures of Modi Government on national security front,” he asked.

Singh said the Modi government’s record on national security is “dismal” as incidents of terrorism have seen a quantum jump.

“A lie spoken a hundred times does not become the truth,” he said on Modi’s plank of nationalism, adding that terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir alone have gone up by 176 per cent and ceasefire violations at the border with Pakistan up 1,000 per cent in the past five years.

He said that division and hate have become synonymous with the BJP and it thrives on societal fissures.

“A government which does not believe in inclusive growth and is only worried about its political existence at the altar of disharmony should be immediately shown the exit door,” he noted.

He alleged that in the past five years the stench of corruption has peaked to “unimaginable proportions” and “there is a definite collusion of people holding political positions and scamsters who fled the country after defrauding banks”.

Singh said the BJP’s “political distress” emanates from its “failed track record” and claimed the party is searching for new narratives everyday. “This reflects the bankruptcy of a national security vision for the country.” 

Five years of Modi Government is a sad story of governance and accountability failure. In the year 2014, Modiji came to power on the promise of ‘acche din’. His five years rule has ended up being the most traumatic and devastating for India’s youth, farmers, traders, businesses and every democratic institution: Manmohan Singh

“Five years of Modi Government is a sad story of governance and accountability failure. In the year 2014, Modiji came to power on the promise of ‘acche din’. His five years rule has ended up being the most traumatic and devastating for India’s youth, farmers, traders, businesses and every democratic institution,” he said.

“Our socio-political ambience has lost cohesiveness. People are fed up with the daily loud rhetoric of cosmetic change. There is a sense of deep despair and disillusionment amongst the masses. People have made up their minds to reject the Modi Government and the BJP so that the future of India is safe and secure,” Singh said.

The former Prime Minister said one man would not do any justice to the aspirations and hopes of the people by imposing the thought process and will of ‘one person’ on a diverse country like India. 

“Representation in India is very important. A single man can neither represent all the desires of 130 crore people of India and can also not solve the variety of problems faced by them. The idea of ‘one man as the monolith of knowledge’ cannot be applied to India,” he said on whether a presidential form of election is good for democracy.

On foreign policy, he said India has always been guided by national interests and not for “image building of any individual”.

Foreign policy entails “gravitas”, a sense of diplomacy and restraint, sensitivity towards the concerns of the host nation and ultimately furthering the interests of India, but “regrettably, this government’s foreign policy is founded upon anything but a mature comprehension of diplomacy”, he said.