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Friday, July 3, 2015

Yashwant Sinha takes dig at PM Narendra Modi for neglecting veterans07-03

Yashwant Sinha takes dig at PM Narendra Modi for neglecting veterans 




"All those who are above the age of 75 were declared brain dead on May 26, 2014," senior BJP leaderYashwant Sinha has said, taking a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for setting the cut off age of 75 years for induction of ministers.
The caustic take from Sinha, who held finance and external affairs portfolios in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Chandra Shekhar governments, on the neglect of BJP veterans came at an industry event yeterday where he was asked about the difference between the Narendra Modi andManmohan Singh dispensations.
Sinha also targeted Modi over his pet 'Make in India' initiative, saying "make India first" and the rest will follow.
"I am among those brain dead," Sinha, whose son Jayant is Union Minister of State for Finance, said.
The octogenarian leader from Jharkhand is among top BJP leaders like L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, who have been sulking after not been inducted into the Modi government. Advani and Joshi have been made members of BJP's 'Margdarshak Mandal" to mentor the party. Joshi had recently targeted Modi's 'Namami Gange' project for cleaning the Ganga, claiming it will never be successful.
Recalling his days as Finance Minister to take a swipe at the 'Make in India' initiative, Sinha said he had lowered duty on heavy equipment used for building roads. That, he said, accelerated construction of highways and helped the economy.
"'Make India' and 'Make in India' will follow," he said.
Before Yashwant Sinha, Modi had come in for criticism for fixing the cut off age for ministers from another party senior-- actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha.
Shatrughan Sinha, who had also served as Union minister under Vajpayee, insisted on "merit and mental alertness" being the criteria for choosing ministers.
"Instead of age, the criteria shall be mental alertness and health. Even at an age of 87 L K Advani has a sharp memory and energy like a 40-year-old man. Who can question the mental alertness and physical activities of Advani or Murli Manohar Joshi?" Shatrughan, who calls Advani his "guru", had said some time back.
Speaking at an industry meet in Mumbai on Wednesday, former finance minister Yashwant Sinha questioned the government’s claims of economic recovery to be more “statistical” than real.

“We have recovered from the slowdown, at least statistically, if not really, because we have changed the norms,” Sinha said, calling for a debate on the issue and comparable figures of economic growth from previous years which can validate the claims of recovery.

“It cannot be that you prepare one year’s figures and say now you’re doing 7.4 per cent or eight per cent or 20 per cent,” Sinha said. “What are the new norms (of computation)? Even the Chief Economic Advisor of the government of India does not understand this. And we’ve put the same culprits (who initiated the change) to sit in judgement over this change.”

There are “serious issues” in the economy, which have to be addressed and the government can never say it has tackled all the pressing concerns, he said.

Sinha ridiculed the BJP’s decision to sideline those of its leaders who were above 75 years of age. Sinha said the government’s Make in India campaign was insufficient without better infrastructure. He  criticised the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for keeping interest rates high and called for a better “working alliance” between the finance ministry and the central bank.

But the former civil servant was denied a Lok Sabha ticket in the 2014 elections from Hazaribagh, which went to his son, present Minister of State for Finance Jayant. Neither has he been inducted in any policy-making role in the one year of the new government.

Apart from Sinha, leaders like Murli Manohar Joshi and L K Advani have also felt marginalised in the new scheme of things. Some others like Kalyan Singh have been given gubernatorial assignments. The BJP had then claimed this to be part of the process of generational change in its leadership.

Recently, Joshi had said the ‘Clean Ganga’ campaign of the Modi government was unlikely to be successful. Last week, Advani spoke at length about the possibility of a repeat of the Emergency, which opposition parties interpreted as his criticism of Prime Minister Modi.

Sinha also took a jibe at the government’s flagship ‘Make in India’ campaign, saying energies should be first focused on making the country a better place and all the other things will fall in place. To buttress his point, Sinha cited his decision to lower the duties on heavy road building equipment when he was the finance minister, which ensured that the highway work kick-started, which, he claimed, in turn helped the economy. “Make India and Make in India  will follow,” he said.

Earlier this year, the government had adopted a change in the system of growth computation, which put the country’s economic growth to be among the fastest in the world, even ahead of China. The country grew 7.4 per cent in FY15 under the new system — as against the five per cent levels under the older system in FY14 — and is expected to close in on the 8 per cent mark for FY16.

Sinha also criticised the stance of the RBI in keeping interest rates high, blaming its “measly” cuts for the banks’ reluctance to pass on the benefits of the cumulative 0.75 per cent cut.