Shortly after official data showed India's gross domestic product (GDP) slowing to 4.5 per cent in the July-September quarter, the lowest recorded in six years, the Congress today accused the BJP-led central government of pushing the country's economy into a coma through its "divisive" policies.
"India's GDP has collapsed to an abysmal 4.5%, and we are in a virtual free-fall. But why is the BJP celebrating when this is the lowest our GDP has sunk in six years? That's because GDP means Godse Divisive Politics to them, and by that measure, India can be seen to have achieved double-digit growth. It's all about perspective," Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said sarcastically in a press conference held soon after the figures were released.
The reference to Nathuram Godse comes from a comment allegedly made about Mahatma Gandhi's assassin by BJP MP Pragya Thakur in Parliament yesterday. The Congress claims that she referred to Nathuram Godse as a "patriot", an allegation denied by Ms Thakur.
Mr Surjewala went on to claim that investments of all kinds - private or public - were at an all-time low under the BJP government, as was the employment rate. "Even in the last year of Congress rule, the GDP growth was above 6%. Let the nation compare it with the BJP's decimation of the economy," he said, adding that the government suffers from an utter "bankruptcy of economic vision".
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also declared the GDP's sharp decline as "worrisome", and expressed hope that the latest figures would wake the government from its slumber.
Among the measures taken by the central government over the last few months in a bid to spur investment and revive growth are the withdrawal of higher taxes on foreign investors; reduction in corporate taxes; a mega merger of state-run banks; a special window for the real estate sector; and a massive disinvestment plan. However, some economists believe that the room left for authorities to stimulate growth has become too limited.
India lost its position as the world's fastest growing major economy last year. Global credit rating agency Moody's also lowered its economic growth forecast for India to 5.6 per cent for the current financial year, dealing another blow to the government's target of making India a $5-trillion economy by 2024.