NEW DELHI: Senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram on Sunday attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi on lack of job creation and said jobs would be a critical factor in polls over the next 16 months, including the Lok Sabha election.
In a series of tweets, the former Finance Minister said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) under Modi's leadership was not unbeatable as was proved in Delhi and Bihar and that "a strong narrative and a carefully-crafted strategy" can defeat the BJP again.
Referring to Congress President Rahul Gandhi, he said the BJP limped across the finish line in Gujarat "with a young and energised sprinter close on its heels".
"Both the BJP and the Congress were winners: the BJP scored an electoral victory, the Congress scored a political victory.
"The BJP under the leadership of Narendra Modi is not unbeatable. Delhi and Bihar were not flashes in the pan or flukes. A strong narrative and a carefully-crafted strategy can defeat the BJP.
"In Gujarat, the critical factor was not caste but mobilisation. Such mobilisation can take place around other factors as well -- joblessness or farmers' distress or growing inequality or religion," he tweeted.
Chidambaram added that Modi had to deliver on his promises of economic growth, jobs, doubling farm income, and 'sabka saath, sabka vikas'.
"The first three years of his government have returned an average growth rate of 7.5 per cent (under the new methodology)... Ultimately, it is the state of the economy in 2018-19 that will be the decisive factor in the elections over the next 16 months, including the Lok Sabha election. In 'economy', the critical factor will be 'jobs'."
He questioned Modi's claim to have created over 31 million new jobs through the Mudra scheme.
"The Prime Minister referred to the MUDRA scheme and said 'over 31 million loans have been sanctioned to entrepreneurs... Even if we assume conservatively that, on average, each enterprise creates just one sustainable job, this initiative itself amounts to 31 million new jobs'."
Chidambaram said Mudra loans are simply an aggregate of loans given by public sector banks and regional rural banks -- something that they had been doing for many years.
"As of July 28, 2017, 8.56 crore loans were sanctioned. The total amount was Rs 3.69 lakh crore. The average loan size was Rs 43,000.
"We are asked to believe that a loan of Rs 43,000 will create an additional job! If the 'new' worker is paid less-than-minimum wage of Rs 5,000 a month, the loan will evaporate in eight months! Can an investment of Rs 43,000 generate additional income of Rs 5,000 per month?"