Nirmala Sitharaman: Did not expect this from you: Nirmala Sitharaman on Manmohan Singh’s criticism of Modi government

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Hitting back at former prime minister Manmohan Singh for his criticism of the Modi government’s handling of economy, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday said he is more remembered for having brought India to “fragile five” and rampant inflation during his term.

She also referred to recent revelations about former NSE chief Chitra Ramkrishna having taken guidance of a ‘Himalayan Yogi’ in running the country’s biggest stock exchange and said Singh was not even aware how the bourse was being run for so long when he was in power.

“I have great regards for you (Singh). I did not expect this from you. And I am hurt,” Sitharaman said, wondering if he is suddenly speaking about economy because of “electoral consideration” of the Punjab assembly polls.

She compared data on export, FDI and inflation during the Modi government with the Singh’s dispensation to assert that economic indicators are much better now.

He is better remembered as a prime minister under whose term inflation remained in double digit for 22 months straight and who saw capital fly out of the country, the minister said.

She also accused those attacking the Modi government over inflation for spreading confusion over the issue.

The BJP dispensation takes immediate measures to control prices of essential items, and that is why inflation figures have been much better under its term than the Congress-led UPA government.

The Reserve Bank of India had on February 10 said inflation based on consumer price index (CPI) is expected to come well below its upper tolerance level, at 4.5 per cent, in the next fiscal year beginning April 2022, helped by fresh crop arrivals, supply-side interventions, as well as prospects of a good monsoon.

Noting that inflation has reached levels in developed economies of the US and Europe not seen in decades, the finance minister said India is also impacted by global scenario.

But our government takes immediate measures to curb rise in prices, she said, adding that the UPA government was hit by “policy paralysis” with a then senior minister like Pranab Mukherjee spearheading 33 Group of Ministers.

She also faulted the methodology of a Oxfam report, which claimed that inequality and poverty figures had worsened in India, and said it does not take into account various welfare initiatives of the government.

The formula used by Oxfam is wrong as it should be on grounds that are truly substantial, she said.

In a scathing attack on the government, Singh said on Thursday that the short-sighted policies of the central government, have caused people to suffer from falling economy, rising inflation and unemployment.

Targeting the central government on a host of issues, including the farmers’ agitation, foreign policy, price rise and unemployment, Singh said ahead of the Punjab elections on February 20 that the BJP’s nationalism was “fake” and was based on the British policy of “divide and rule”.

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