New Delhi: The Congress on Sunday defended the record of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) on the basis of recently published back series data on gross domestic product (GDP). At a press conference today, former finance minister P. Chidambaram said that the data established that both terms of the UPA delivered the highest decadal growth (8.13% at factor cost) since India acquired independence and that it handed over an Indian economy on the upswing in 2014.
The opposition party’s attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is significant because the Congress has been repeatedly raising the issue of “mismanagement of the economy" and is keen on driving home the point in the campaign leading up to 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
“You will recall that the Congress had repeatedly pointed out that, when the base year was changed, the government should follow the healthy international practice and revise the numbers for the previous years," Chidambaram told reporters, adding that there was a “determined effort to run down" the UPA’s ten-year track record.
“The back series data is now available. The numbers prove the dictum that truth cannot be suppressed forever and truth has a way of emerging amidst a torrent of lies and distortions," he added.
According to back series calculations by a committee appointed by the National Statistical Commission, reported last week, the Indian economy grew in double digits twice—10.23% in 2007-08 and 10.78% in 2010-11—during the UPA regime under prime minister Manmohan Singh.
Chidambaram on Sunday took the opportunity to explain that when the UPA’s tenure ended, economic growth had recovered to 6.39% at market prices in 2013-14, the fiscal deficit was reduced to 4.48% and the current account deficit had been contained at 1.7%.
“Unfortunately, after the first two years, the (NDA) government stumbled and the momentum was lost. The main reasons were demonetisation, flawed implementation of the GST (goods and services tax) and tax terrorism," he added.
Chidambaram said that another reason for this had been “sluggish credit growth", which was 14% during 2013-14 but the average of which has been 8.27% in the four year of NDA’s rule.