NEW DELHI: Virtually daring the Prime Minister, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram today said the government should publish the contemplated White Paper on the economic situation in the country before the Narendra Modi dispensation presented its first budget in 2014.
"Govt should publish the contemplated White Paper. Before they withdraw the Economic Survey of 2014-15." "Also withdraw RBI Annual Report and CSO Report for 2014-15. They will be non-White Papers!", the senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP said in a series of tweets.
The response of Chidambaram, who was the Finance Minister when the UPA went out of power in May 2014, came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said in an interview that he wanted to bring a White Paper before his government presented its first budget but opted against it in the national interest, even at the risk of political damage.
"...I think, before presenting the first budget, I should have placed a White Paper in Parliament on the economic situation in the country. This thought had come to me," Modi said an interview to CNN News18.
Senior Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma also sought to dismiss the Prime Minister's claim. He had yesterday said the Prime Minister had participated in an interview the questions and answers of which appeared to be "prepared by the PMO."
Accusing the Prime Minister of "misleading" the nation by targeting previous government on the economic situation, he told reporters "UPA had left a stable economy. Forex reserves were USD 300 billion. National income grew three-fold. Nearly 14 crore people came out of poverty".
Taking a dig at the Prime Minister, he said Modi knows "very little" about the economic situation in India. "Indeed, it seems that people are circumspect to give him the real picture."
Seeking to puncture government's claims, he said the fact is that the economy is in a "worrying situation" with key parameters like National Saving Rate and National Investment Rate having fallen.
"After being in power for 27 months, these excuses are not expected. Instead of making comments on the previous Government, Modiji should instead talk about all of his electoral promises which have remained unfulfilled," Sharma said insisting that during the UPA term, GDP increased four-fold in 10 years.
He challenged the government to come out with a White Paper to tell the country about falling investment rate, falling manufacturing, non creation of new capacities, gross capital formation falling in double digits, job loss and fall in exports.