Opposition on Thursday attacked Finance Minister P Chidambaram for blaming his predecessor for the ills facing the economy and told the government to get out if it cannot rescue the country from the "irretrievable" situation created by its "incompetence and corruption".
Initiating a discussion in the Lok Sabha on the Supplementary Demands for Grants (General), BJP leader Ananth Kumar dubbed Chidambaram as 'anartha shastri' (expert in creating chaos) and held him responsible for the current economic situation which was "irretrievable".
"If they are not capable of leading...govern or get out. The people's dreams of a robust and prosperous economy have been ruined by the incompetence and corruption of this government," he said.
While the economy is in a "mess" with high inflation, fiscal deficit and current account deficit, the government has been blaming the opposition, the BJP, as also outside supporters like SP and BSP, apart from the UPA constituents.
"The UPA had earlier created jobless growth. Now there is no job, no growth. It is in fact negative growth," he said.
The Finance Minister had recently blamed his predecessor for the problems in the economy, Kumar lamented, saying Chidambaram "owes an explanation to the country for his comments. ... People have now started calling him 'anartha shastri'".
Chidambaram's predecessor was Pranab Mukherjee, who is now the President.
The BJP MP attributed the problems facing the economy to the stimulus package announced by Chidambaram in his earlier tenure as Finance Minister in 2008-o9, which started "the beginning of the fall of the Indian economy."
He also made a strong plea to lower the income tax rate from ten to five per cent to give relief to 3.5 crore households who earned less than Rs five lakh per annum and have been hit hard by rising prices.
Kumar hit out at the UPA government over rising unemployment and farmers' suicides and said prices of all essential commodities had risen by 30-40 per cent "only between March and July this year."
The BJP leader also blamed the ruling coalition for the "series of scams" like CWG, 2G spectrum and coal scams.
Madhu Goud Yaskhi (Cong) accused the opposition party of indulging in corruption in states like Karnataka, and during the earlier NDA rule.
"On one hand, they oppose FDI, on the other they express concern and ask why foreign investment is not coming. Such is the irresponsible attitude of the main opposition," he said, recounting "people-friendly" measures like food and land bills and RTI law taken by the Congress-led government.
Shailendra Kumar (SP) supported the Demands for Grants but asked the government to take urgent steps to check inflation, restore confidence of investors, create jobs and check the falling value of the rupee.
Maintaining that the Congress would "go to polls on the planks of Telangana, food and land acquisition bills," he asked the ruling party to think what long-term impact these decisions will have on the economy and the people.
The SP member also drew the attention of the House over the devastation caused by floods in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and said large tracts of arable land have been inundated and standing crop destroyed.
"Think of its impact on future foodgrain availability," Kumar said, asking whether the Centre would help the states in meeting this devastation.
He also demanded an assistance of Rs 900 crore for Uttar Pradesh, which is under his party's rule, to meet the flood situation.
Sharad Yadav (JD-U) said the government should have focused on increasing agricultural growth to 4 per cent and felt that had this happened the country would be in a different league.
Yadav said he suspects the government will tamper with the minimum support price of foodgrains to deal with the huge expenditure it will incur due to the Food Security Act.
Other issues flagged by him were the hit taken by the weavers due to curbs on the industry in the name of controlling child labour, the problems being faced by farmers in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar due to floods and drought.
Yadav lamented that government is not doing enough for bringing back Indian black money kept in European nations. He also suggested that just as former Prime Minister Morarji Desai's government had ordered gold control, the UPA regime should take steps.
Baliram (BSP) said the economic situation in the country has deteriorated and the government feels one of the ways of improving it is FDI but foreign investors are apprehensive about investing here.
He sought to know how the government intends to recover the expenditure to be incurred by legislations on Food Security and Land Acquisition.
Saugata Roy (TMC) said India is giving Rs 1830 crore to the IMF but is soon likely to go to the same body to borrow money. He also took dig at the new RBI Governor and said he has talked about reviving growth in the economy rather than about controlling inflation.
Minister Jaipal Reddy intervened when Roy charged that the RBI Governor (Raghuram Rajan) was one of the economists from Chicago School who advised the US government and how this led to the economic crisis there in 2008. Reddy said this was not true and Rajan was one of those who anticipated the crisis.
Roy said the Food Security Act will add to inflation and quoted ratings agency Moody's which has predicted that this will worsen the situation.
"The whole country is in a genuine crisis... I think the government is in an economic mess," Roy said, adding prices of essential commodities have gone up.
P Karunakaran (CPI-M) said there has been severe decline in construction and mining sectors in the country. He rued that the prices of essential commodities have shot up and the Current Account Deficit is growing.
B Mahtab (BJD) said the Prime Minister is hopeful of reviving the economy and is relying on will power to take it to 8 per cent. He also suggested that the government should cut its fuel expenses as this will go a long way in improving the economy. He also said tax evasion should be checked and the rising number of tax litigations should be brought down.