The Hindu Business Line

The Congress manifesto is silent on the middle class: Jaitley

- SHISHIR SINHA/RICHA MISHRA

The chapter which is missing in the Congress manifesto is on strengthen­ing the middle class, which is today a dominant section of the voter base, said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Handling the task of countering the Congress manifesto, Jaitley said both the media and political parties should not undermine the intellect of the voter. Talking to BusinessLi­ne, a day after the Congress released its manifesto and the crucial Supreme Court verdict on

RBI’s February 12, 2018 circular on resolution of If you look at the whole history of the Congress rule, I think it was always guided by either obsolete ideas or populism. The Congress was always behind the curve, when it came to visionary thinking. See this whole suggestion on Tuesday about wealth and welfare, compare it with what I have been saying for five years — market economy with social consciousn­ess.

You have to increase resources, use it for further economic developmen­t, infrastruc­ture, etc. Use a large part of the resource to bring down poverty. That is the model we followed in the last five years.

Now Manmohan Singh says that ‘2030 main garibi kum karegey (in 2030 we will bring down poverty) which means it took them 69 years to implement Indira Gandhi’s idea from 1971. This is the confession of non- performanc­e. Other countries in the world have done it much faster by adopting the right policies. Therefore, if you see the economic agenda, I don't think they knew the basics also.

OBut, how do you see some of their suggestion­s. Spend on education and health...

I can understand if they say State and Central Government­s, municipali­ties, panchayats, private sector, all together will try to spend 6 per cent on education and 3 per cent on healthcare. Rahul Gandhi ko toh size of GDP aur size of Budget ke beech ka difference nahi pata (Rahul Gandhi doesn’t know the difference between the size of the GDP and size of the Budget).

He said 6 per cent of the GDP to be spent on education and 3 per cent on health. Iska matlab yeh hua ki ₹27 lakh crore ke Budget main ₹18.9 lakh crore kewal in dono per kaharch kar denge (In the ₹27-lakh crore Budget, ₹18.9-lakh crore will be spent on these two alone). And if you see the liberalism in this manifesto, it is only when it comes to subversion — AFSA, dilute Army presence and bail is the rule for sedition.

Is NYAY a concern for the BJP?

Abhi tak sach nahi bol rahe (They are still not telling the truth). If you put all the States and the Central subsidies under Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) it is targeted distributi­on and it will only be merit. In their scheme, the monthly cheque will be in most cases more than ₹12,000. Now they say it will be over and above other subsidies.

So the issue is how will you do it? Economist Abhijit Banerjee spoke the truth (P Chaidmbara­m says they consulted him) they will raise taxes. For the last five years, we have reduced taxes, we didn't raise a single tax.

only chapter which is missing in this manifesto, is on strengthen­ing the middle class, that is today a dominant section of your voter.

So you are saying NYAY will be funded by raising taxes...

I am not saying this, the truth was leaked out by Abhijit’s statement. Secondly, the devil lies in detail. What is the qualificat­ion, who will get it? Take Telangana — I give example of Telangana as it is the highest subsidy State — Kisiko ₹15,000 har mahine mil jata hai (assuming food is also put on), toh yeh jo ₹6,000 dengey will that ₹15,000 be taken into considerat­ion to determine eligibilit­y or not? (Someone gets ₹15,000 per month, and added to this is ₹6,000. So will the ₹15,000 be considered for eligibilit­y determinat­ion or not), (If yes) then there is no NYAY in Telangana. Then everybody gets it and if it is over and above, the one working will get ₹21,000 and your minimum wage will be from ₹9,500 to ₹15,500 . So, you are actually disincenti­vising workers.

So there are two drafting catches — it will no longer be a Central scheme, Rahul Gandhi’s gift, it will be a CentreStat­e scheme The manifesto also said that it (NYAY) will be fiscally neutral and it will only allow merit subsidies to continue. Now let’s see the demerits — there are a total 950 subsidies, of which you will call 20-30 merit and the remaining demerit.

How do you read freedom from indebtedne­ss?

Freedom from indebtedne­ss is only possible if the economy is moving faster and resources are being transferre­d to the poor. In 2011, the BPL was 21.9 per cent, I'm assuming it should be around 17 per cent today. These are hard realities that we must keep in mind. In a fast moving economy, we should deplete this faster by transferri­ng more resources. DBT is the best mechanism. You can even enlarge the scope of DBT by increasing some of those amounts. Let's be very clear. P Chidambara­m’s explanatio­n for impleThe menting NYAY is like the man who went to buy a hen. Who ek anda degi, aur phir ek hazaar ande ho jayenge, phir main poultry farm ka owner ho januga, phir millionair­e bunn jaayega phir saab khuch kar lunga. (Will lay one egg, then will lay 1,000 eggs, and then the poultry farmer will become a millionair­e and this will help me achieve my goal).

He says the GDP will expand. But, how will you do it in year one? How will you do it in year two? Even at 7.5 per cent expansion each year, it will take time for the GDP to grow much faster.

The GDP numbers are maintained by the CSO. India’s Opposition and the Left has been in shambles all these years. I have analysed this list of 108 economists who had questioned the data. Seventy are those who have signed multiple political memorandum­s against the government. IMF accepts our data. The country accepts it. And my last submission is such expanded economic activity is creating jobs. We have the details sector-wise. The main issue here is if there were no jobs there will be a lot of social sector tension. Do you see it?

 ?? ZY ARUN JAITLEY Finance Minister ?? stressed assets, Jaitley said, “The voter is cleverer than both politician­s and journalist­s. Therefore, he proves us wrong every time.” The results that come are neither what one has said nor what one has predicted, Jaitley said. Excerpts: Freedom from indebtedne­ss is only possible if the economy is moving faster and resources are being transferre­d to the poor.
ZY ARUN JAITLEY Finance Minister stressed assets, Jaitley said, “The voter is cleverer than both politician­s and journalist­s. Therefore, he proves us wrong every time.” The results that come are neither what one has said nor what one has predicted, Jaitley said. Excerpts: Freedom from indebtedne­ss is only possible if the economy is moving faster and resources are being transferre­d to the poor.

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