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Country is under undeclared emergency: Yashwant Sinha

Source: PTI
May 09, 2018 23:21 IST
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Sinha said the data on economic growth put out by the Central government cannot be trusted.

Launching another scathing attack on the Modi government, former finance minister Yashwant Sinha on Wednesday said "tax terrorism" has become the "order of the day" under the current government and that the country was under an "undeclared emergency".

He said the emergency imposed by the then prime minister Indira Gandhi of the Congress in 1975 was political in nature, contrary to the "current emergency" which is an undeclared one.


"...When we were in the opposition, we used to accuse the then UPA (government) of being involved in a tax terrorism. We had promised that if voted to power we will finish it," Sinha said while addressing a group of intellectuals, Citizens for Democracy, on the topic 'Indian economy and challenges before democracy'.

Sinha had last month announced that he was severing all ties with the BJP and preparing to launch a nationwide campaign to save democracy.

He said "tax terrorism" has become the "order of the day" in the current government.

"After demonetisation (in 2016), there are 20 lakh cases filed seeking explanation about the money deposited with banks during that period," Sinha said.

He said the GST (Goods and Services Tax) regime, introduced by the current government, has landed lakhs of traders into trouble.

"Since the introduction of GST on July 1, 2017, there are 357 amendments made. This is a joke with the tax system in the country and everyone is troubled. The traders who are from the villages where there is no electricity are being told to file their tax online. How can he do that?" he asked.

Sinha said the country is currently going through an "emergency-like situation", which is different from the emergency clamped in 1975 by the then prime minister Indira Gandhi.

"Indira Gandhi's Emergency was different from today's emergency. One fine day, she announced emergency across the country and the people who were in opposition were jailed and media was censored. The step taken by her was a political one," he said.

"The emergency which we witness currently is an undeclared one. It is a slow poison which is being injected into the body politic of this country," Sinha added.

Sinha, who held finance and external affairs portfolios in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, walked out of the BJP on a bitter note.

He has been publicly opposing the Modi government's economic policies and style of functioning.

In a newspaper article, Sinha had criticised Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley over what he called the "mess the finance minister has made of the economy" after which Jaitley hit back calling him "a job applicant at 80 years" who has forgotten his record as a finance minister.

He had also said that demonetisation had proved to be an "unmitigated economic disaster" and that the GST was "badly conceived and poorly implemented." He had also deprecated the Centre's handling of Kashmir.

Sinha said the data on economic growth put out by the Central government cannot be trusted.

He also questionned the government's claims about GDP growth and generation of employment.

"We cannot trust the figures put out by the Central government. Indian economy itself is a challenge for our democracy..This is a huge crisis of confidence," Sinha said.

"Sometimes in early 2015 when the present government took over, they changed two things: formula for calculating GDP and base years. The base years are changed from time to time, but both (changing of the GDP and the base year) happened simultenously.

"In 2013-14, which was the last year of the UPA, the growth rate was 4.7 per cent. After application of the new formula, the same growth rate in 2014-15 went up to 6.5 per cent," he said.

"For the fiscal2014-15 and subsequently we do not have comparative figures of growth according to the new and old formulas. At least for five years, the government should have released both the figures so that people could have understood the difference between earlier and present figures," he said.

On the government's claim of employment generation, Sinha said the Centre has been playing with the figures to show that jobs are created in large numbers.

"Everyone was speaking about employment generation. So, the government decided to ask some sarakari economists to write long learned articles and in these articles they said that the real figure is the employees provident fund organization figures," Sinha claimed.

He said there is a group of eminent economists which says the EPFO figures are not the real figures.

"The employment generation figures collected by the Union government's Labour Bureau were disappointing. What the government doing now is that they have told the labour bureau that don't collect the figures on employment generation," Sinha claimed.

Sinha, who has severed ties with the BJP, said, "the growth rate and employment are the two areas where we have not been told the truth and we don't know what is the real situation".

Sinha, who had launched 'Rashtra Manch to run a movement against the policies of the Central government, termed as "serious" the "prevailing agrarian distress" in the country.

"In all, 110 farmers organisations have come together to launch a 'Village bandh' and from June 1-10, the farmers are not going to send their produce to the cities.

"So you are not going to get your supply of fruits, vegetables, milk, and grains. Farmers have also decided not to visit the cities. So it would be a complete divide between villages and cities," he said.

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