New Delhi: Arun Shourie, former union minister, was categorical today in blaming the economic slowdown on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's shock outlawing of high-denomination notes a year ago. "It was the largest money-laundering scheme ever, conceived and implemented entirely by the government," Mr Shourie told NDTV today. It was an "idiotic jolt" he continued, "everyone who had black converted it into white." The RBI has said that nearly 99 per cent of the banned currency has been returned to banks, which suggests that black or untaxed money was not destroyed by the giant move.
- Notes ban an "idiotic jolt" says Arun Shourie, adds GST badly implemented
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- Agree with Yashwant Sinha that others in BJP share our concerns
He was quick to add the new national sales tax -- the GST -- to the list of the government's misdeeds, stating that though it was an important reform, it had been poorly implemented. "The rules have been amended seven times within three months," said the former BJP member in support of his claim, adding that what makes it worse is the "event management of the GST -- imagine! A tax reform is being compared to the independence of India" he said about the special midnight session of parliament held to introduce the new tax in July.
Mr Shourie's relentless criticism of the government's economic mismanagement comes days after former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha, who was his colleague in the cabinet of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, said that the economy is a mess and that it will not recover, despite the government's claims, by the next general election in 2019. The BJP responded by dismissing Mr Sinha and Mr Shourie as frustrated politicians who are avenging their sidelining by the party by publicly dissing its leadership.
"This is their Standard Operating Procedure," Mr Shourie said of the BJP's response, adding "they should publish a list in advance of frustrated persons" as a pre-emptive strike against disagreement.
He said major economic policies are being decided in "a sealed echo chamber" of "2.5 persons" whom he listed as "Amit Shah, PM Modi, and an in-house lawyer." His derision of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley echoes that of Mr Sinha, who said the buck stops with Mr Jaitley for the economy plummeting to 5.7 per cent growth in the last quarter, marking a three-year low.
Mr Shourie said that he agrees with Mr Sinha's assessment that others in the BJP share their concern over the government's economic policies but are either prevented from or scared to raise questions.