Surat: In a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his predecessor Manmohan Singh today said Modi failed to understand the “pains” of his note ban and GST decisions were going to unleash on the people of his own home state.
Calling demonetisation an “uninformed, half-baked crusade” and GST a “badly designed and hastily implemented” measure, Singh also lamented the “low-level rhetoric” used by the ruling party.
“I wish the prime minister would find more dignified ways of impressing upon the crowds and seeking their votes…,” he said.
“Just as you were recovering from one blow (of demonetisation), came the GST. Nobody consulted you or tried to understand how your dhandha (business) works,” he told a gathering of members of the local business community here.
“The prime minister is from Gujarat, and he claims to understand Gujarat and the poor more than anyone else. How is it that he never understood the pains his decisions will unleash on you?” Singh asked.
“Your business works on trust and relationships. Without trust in each other, Surat will collapse. You extended this trust to the prime minister and his promise of ‘acchhe din’ (good days). The hope symbolised in those dreams now lies shattered,” he said.
In Surat alone, 89,000 powerlooms were sold as scrap and it led to a loss of 31,000 jobs, Singh said. “There are countless such examples from industrial clusters and big mandis (markets) from across the country.”
On demonetisation, Singh said, “This is an uninformed, half-baked crusade on black money where he (Modi) painted everyone as a thief, while real culprits have gotten away.”
The Goods and Services Tax was “badly designed and hastily implemented”, the economist-turned-politician said.
Maintaining that demonetisation was not the solution to the problem of black money and tax evasion, Singh said the costs of demonetisation substantially exceeded its benefits, and the decision “proved to be mere bluster to reap political dividends while the real offenders have escaped”.
Demonetisation and GST have also “sown a deep-rooted fear of tax terrorism among the business community”, he said.
Singh said on every social indicator, from infant and maternal mortality rates to female literacy, Gujarat has fallen behind the best performing states, including Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu,.
He said the recent agitations by the youth cutting across different sections of the society was an indication of the deep dissatisfaction with the performance of successive BJP governments.
Later, talking to reporters, Singh strongly denied Modi’s allegation that the Congress and Congress-led governments hated Gujaratis.
Modi was “denigrating the country” when claiming that Congress party did nothing in 70 years, the former PM said.
“I wish the prime minister would find more dignified ways of impressing upon the crowds and seeking their votes without resorting to statements which denigrate our country,” he said.
“In the ten years of UPA-I and II, when I was the prime minister, we produced 7.8 per cent GDP growth on average. This includes the slow-down in the last two years of our government. When the present government took over, they said they would take growth to 8 to 10 per cent. Modi so far has produced an average of only 7.3 per cent in the first three years,” he said.