New Delhi: A day after senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha's takedown of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's handling of the economy, his son and union minister Jayant Sinha has defended the government's economic policies, stating it is undertaking structural reforms that are "necessary to create a 'New India' and provide good jobs for our billion-strong workforce."
"The new economy that is being created will be much more transparent, globally cost-competitive, and innovation driven. Importantly, the new economy will also be much more equitable thereby enabling all Indians to lead better lives," Jayant Sinha, who is minister of state for civil aviation, writes on the Edit page of today's Times of India newspaper.
His father's harsh critique was published in the Indian Express yesterday. Yashwant Sinha accused Arun Jaitley for making a "mess" of the economy and blamed it partly on what he called a hurried launch of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's shock move to ban high value currency last year. The BJP veteran, who is a former Finance Minister, has pointed to the slowdown in economic growth and warned that the economy is unlikely to recover by the next national election in 2019.
Jayant Sinha makes no direct mention of his father's assessment, but says articles that have been written on the challenges that face the economy "draw sweeping conclusions from a narrow set of facts, and quite simply miss the fundamental structural reforms that are transforming the economy."
Mr Sinha junior argues that "one or two quarters of GDP growth and other macro data are quite inadequate to evaluate the long-term impact of the structural reforms underway."
He has also praised GST and demonetisation as "game-changing efforts to formalise India's economy," listing a series of initiatives by the government that, he says, "balances a better life for all Indians with the requirements of an advanced, sophisticated 21st century economy." The government, he writes, is "creating a robust new economy that will power long-term growth and job creation for 'New India'."
Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram of the Congress, who had yesterday applauded Yashwant Sinha for "talking truth to the power," has criticised Jayant Sinha's article as reading "like a PIB release...he should know administrative changes are not structural reforms."
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is yet to comment on the controversy, but other top ministers yesterday defended the government's handling of the economy. "India's record is well known across the world. It is one of the fastest growing economies," said Home Minister Rajnath Singh. Railways Minister Piyush Goyal said, "Under the decisive leadership of PM Modi, India has become the world's fastest-growing economy for three years in a row," highlighting GST as an "unprecedented reform."
BJP sources have dismissed Yashwant Sinha's article as motivated by his frustration, and suggested that the 84-year-old leader is seeking to avenge his marginalisation by PM Modi. Mr Sinha and other senior leaders like LK Advani were sidelined in a move seen as punishment for opposing Mr Modi being named their party's presumptive prime minister before the 2014 national election.