New Delhi: With an eye on the 2019 general elections, the opposition Congress party on Sunday released a key document on ‘economic resolution’ that blames the government for derailing economic growth through “reckless and bizarre policies" such as demonetisation of high value currency and “hasty imposition of a flawed" goods and services tax (GST).
The document is significant because it could set the tone for party’s attacks on the economic policies of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and give a foretaste of the alternatives offered by the Congress party in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections next year.
At the final day of the Congress plenary on Sunday, both former prime minister Manmohan Singh and former finance minister P. Chidambaram launched a scathing attack on what they called the government’s “mismanagement" of the economy.
“We realise that growth in itself is not everything, we need inclusion and social justice...BJP government has messed up the economy," Singh said in his speech at the party’s 84th plenary. “If you want to double farm income, you will need 12% growth per annum at the minimum and that is unthinkable...this is therefore one more jumla from the government," Singh added.
Chidambaram too attacked the government over its economic policies, including demonetisation. “Every single promise (by the government) is being broken. Let the BJP answer which one of these promises were kept in the last four years," Chidambaram said as he moved the economic resolution.
In a significant statement, Chidambarama also said that the Congress will return to power in 2019 with “friends and allies", declaring several times, “We have done it before, we can do it again."
The economic resolution criticized the union government over a number of issues, saying it was to blame for growing inequality, a “paralysed" banking sector, an opaque and inefficient public sector, agriculture distress, languishing exports, neglect of the social sector and mounting unemployment.
“The Modi government was presented with a golden opportunity to catapult India’s economic growth to a new high through a near perfect alignment of stars—an upswing in the economy, macro-economic stability after the upheaval of the 2008 global financial crisis, low oil prices (from over $100 to under $40 per barrel), robust global economic growth and an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha. Sadly, the government has squandered a golden opportunity," the document read.
The economic resolution said that the five big challenges being faced right now include generating jobs, providing basic facilities like education, health and a safety net, evolving a balanced labour policy, implementation of equal work equal pay and managing agrarian crisis.
The resolution added that a Congress government would focus on prosperity for all through equal economic opportunities, the poor and middle class, large investments in public services like education, health, etc boosting business confidence as well as focusing on developing human and economic indicators.
“Sustained economic growth is the path toward becoming a middle-income developed country. It is the path to lifting the poor out of poverty. It is the path toward creating a large, vibrant and productive middle class," the resolution added.