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Govt ‘incompetent’ manager of economy: Chidambaram
New Delhi, Dec 5 (IANS) Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Thursday hit out at the Modi government over the economic slowdown and said it is an "incompetent" manager of the economy and described the disinvestment of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) as a "scandal".
Chidambaram also said that the Congress will oppose the Citizenship Amendment Bill and that he supports the protests of the Jawaharlal Nehru University students, IIMC and other institutions over the proposed fee hike.
Addressing a press conference at the Congress headquarters, a day after he was released from Tihar jail after 106 days, Chidambaram said, "The government is an incompetent manager of the economy."
Hitting out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his silence on the economic slowdown, the senior Congress leader said, "The Prime Minister has been unusually silent on the economy. He has left it to his ministers to indulge in bluff and bluster."
He also said that the government is making mistakes.
"It is wrong. Let me repeat, the government is wrong and they are wrong because they are clueless," the Congress leader said.
He said every number pointed in the direction of a floundering economy. The economy can be brought out of the slowdown but this government was incapable of doing that.
"We will be lucky to end the year if growth touches 5 per cent. Please remember Arvind Subramanian’s caution that 5 per cent under this government, because of suspect methodology, is not really 5 per cent but less by about 1.5 per cent," Chidambaram said.
"It (Government) is unable to look for the obvious clues, because it is stubborn in defending its catastrophic mistakes," he said.
To a question over the government’s plans to disinvest many Public Sector Units (PSUs) like BPCL, Chidambaram said, "BPCL is a scandal. My colleague Jairam Ramesh pointed it out some months ago. By asking one PSU to buy another PSU is accounting manoeuvring. Government coffers are full and it doesn’t make any difference to me, the organisation or the company or the economy. Let us see who buys BPCL, that will give a clue where the scandal lies."
He also attacked Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman over her remarks on onions and said, "This shows the mindset of the government."
Chidambaram was referring to Sitharaman’s remarks in Parliament on Wednesday where she said that "I don’t eat onions and garlic."
He also lamented the delay in procuring onions and said, "They should have planned in advance. What’s the point of importing now?"
Chidambaram also said that the party will oppose the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB).
The former Finance Minister also said that he support students of JNU and IIMC over fee hike and said, "I support their protest against the steep hike in their hostel and educational fees."
To a question over the government removing Special Protection Group (SPG) protection to the Gandhi family, Chidambaram said, "That is a cost government has to bear. The Gandhis were extremely graceful over the decision and said ‘it’s fine its your decision’."
Chidambaram was released from Tihar jail on Wednesday evening after spending 106 days in connection with INX Media case. He was arrested on August 21 by the CBI after 24-hour drama from his residence. He was also arrested by the ED in connection with the money laundering probe.