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Put cash in people's hands to revive demands, says Chidambaram

PTI     February 8, 2020

Alleging that the BJP-led Union government was in a state of denial about the economic slowdown, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Friday advocated putting cash in people's hands to revive demand. He also sought to debunk prime minister's assertion that rejection of duly passed laws will lead to anarchy, saying that unjust laws must be opposed.

Taking potshots at the Union budget presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Chidambaram said that after 160 minutes, it sounded like "Satyanarayan Pooja". The senior Congress leader was here to deliver a lecture on "CAA-NPR-NRC and Union Budget".

For the last six quarters the growth rate has declined, and this has never happened in India before, the former finance minister said. In her Budget speech, Sitharaman "did not utter a word about demonetization but it all started with demonetization in November 2016," he said.

Every number presented in the Budget was suspect, Chidambaram alleged. The Goods and Services Tax was a good idea but it was implemented by bad "implementors", he said. "The problem with Indian economy is that there is no demand because people do not have money. There is no investment.

"Answer to (problems of) India's economy is very simple. First admit the state of the patient. We have a patient who has to be wheeled to the ICU. But Prime Minister and FM are keeping the patient outside the ICU saying it is alright and there is no need to go to ICU, while the world says alright you keep him outside the ICU, but at least you can not have these incompetent doctors treat him," he said.

"So we have a very sick patient and a very incompetent managers and I don't think India deserves it," he added. "The classic solution to India's economic situation is to put the money into the hands of poor. In economy language, put the money into the hands of masses and not classes," he said.

"But this government will not do that because this government is `suit boot ki Sarkar' (government of the rich)," he said. The government gave Rs 1.44 lakh crore to 200 companies through corporate tax cuts, the Congress leader claimed.

"They have money to (give to) the classes but the companies did not invest, instead they spent money in paying their loans," he said. Investors shy away when economy is declining, and also when there is social disharmony, the Congress leader said. "Today we are hit by both negative factors. There are protests and there are morchas and there is a sliding economy," he added.

Hitting out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chidambaram said, "PM comes out with a theory that if you are protesting, it will lead to anarchy. He should have been born then and told this to Mahatma Gandhi. He (Modi) said that you can not protest the law that is made by Parliament, but Rowlatt's Act was also made by (British) Parliament," he said.

Quoting Gandhi, Chidambaram said unjust laws must be disobeyed and opposed. "Satyagraha and disobedience is the DNA of India given by Mahatma Gandhi," he said.

Also read: Chidambaram rates Modi govt's Budget 2020 'zero'; raises questions over $5 trillion economy target

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