Manmohan Singh in Gujarat slams Modi govt over GST, demonetization, bullet train and more

Ahmedabad: Former Prime Minister and senior Congress leader today termed the demonetization as the largest organized loot and legalized plunder and said that the note-scrapping drive along with hastily implemented GST has ‘blown’ the small and medium businesses and benefited China from where import to India has increased by 23% or over Rs 45 thousand crores.

He also claimed that PM Narendra Modi never met him during his tenure as Prime Minister on the issues pertaining to Narmada project.

Singh also said that the wind of change was blowing in poll bound Gujarat this time around.

During his first visit to Gujarat before December elections, Singh first addressed a meeting of traders and businessmen at the Sardar Patel Memorial auditorium in Shahibaug here and late also addressed a PC at the GPCC headquarter at Rajiv Bhavan in Paldi.

Singh said that the GDP growth rate has fallen to 5.7% after demonetization and GST. Every single percent of drop in monetary terms amounted to Rs 1.5 lakh crores and it did not include the sufferings of the small traders of unorganized sectors and other commoners. Modi government hastily implemented GST without learning lesson from the failure of demonetization.

’60 thousand looms in Surat of Gujarat alone were shut after July this year owing to GST. Small and medium industries and entrepreneurs across the country be it ceramics in Morbi or other industries in Rajkot or Vapi were badly affected. China on the other hand benefited largely from the situation. Such businesses were compelled to look towards China at the cost of India jobs. The import from China has increased from Rs 1.96 lakh crores of last year to 2.41 lakh crores,’ he said.

He said that November 8, last year when the demonetization was implemented without any advice and which caused over 100 deaths, was a black day for both the Indian economy as well as democracy. After the passage of one year since the day people of the country were now feeling betrayed as non of its said objectives have been fulfilled. Even during earlier governments advice about demonetization as one of the measures to curb black money were given but no sensible government could implement it. The cost of demonetization was always more than its benefits. Never in the world such a large scale scrapping of legal tender (currency notes) had taken place. Modi government in just one shot declared over 86 % of the legal tender of that time as scrapped. More than 99% of the notes came bank in the banking system. After around one year around 90% of the cash is also back in circulation. Richer people laundered their black money through demonetization while poor people suffered heavily. The government scrapped Rs 500 and 1000 notes but brought bigger denomination notes of Rs 2000.

He said that after that the hastily implemented GST and unending notifications and changing rules returned the endless and needless chaos and confusion of demonetization period. It has sown the deep rooted fear of tax terrorism among business community. Modi government has transformed the GST in to complicated mess and its compliance requirements have become a nightmare for the small businessmen. Private investment has fallen to a level which was lowest in last 25 years.

Singh said that good governance involves both head and heart but the union government has failed. He alleged that the Modi government forgot the Gandhiji’s talisman about good of the poorest while implementing the demonetization which has made millions jobless and dried up their income forcing them to return their native places. It has also failed to follow Sardar Patel who unified the country in implementing the one nation one tax regime of GST. Had it followed him the result would have been different.

Singh said that he had ealier said in Parliament and was again repeating that Demonetizaiotn was the biggest organized loot and legalized plunder in the country.

He also attacked the Ahmedabad Mumbai Bullet Train project claiming that it was neither beneficial to 6.5 crore Gujaratis nor to the country. He termed its recent inauguration in Ahmedabad with much fanfare as a misplaced priority of the government. India will have to return the Rs 88 thousand crores soft loan for the project to Japan one day. He said that government should rather focus on improving the safety and speed of the existing rail network. Last year the derailment accident deaths in the country were highest in last one decade.

He said that the government should not term those questioning its policies and steps as traitors and thieves.

‘I don’t become anti-development by merely raising question about the efficacy of Bullet train project. Those asking GST and demonetization were not tax evaders and those questioning the fall in GDP was not an anti-national. This attitude was not correct to see every one questioning its policies as a thief or traitor. During the 10 years of UPA regime we pulled out 14.9 million people out of poverty but now after demonetization and GST the half of them were again vulnerable to fall back to poverty,’ he said.

The fomer PM also said that PM Modi as the then CM of Gujarat had never met him during his tenure as PM on the Narmada issue. ‘Rather I as Finance Minister had ensured central funding for it when the world back had cut it. The project foundation was led by former PM Nehru ji and the Congress governments later also worked for it. The work of past brings fruits in future. The water in the main Narmada canal started flowing in the year the current PM (Modi) first become the CM of Gujarat,’ he said.

He also said that there was disconent among various communities in Gujarat and there was a wind of change blowing in the state. He appealed the people to repose faith in Congress which on formation of government would deal equally with every Gujarati irrespective of community, caste or creed and sex.

Singh also claimed that BJP lagged behind from other states in distribution of forest land rights to the tribal community as per the related act of 2008 and also with respect to various other parameters of development like low infant and woman mortality rate and literacy rate was behind non-BJP ruled states like Himachal Paradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamilanadu.
He also alleged that Gujarat government has amended the land acquisition bill in favour of Industrialists. Farmers were aggrieved at it. It has also allowed Industrialist to aquire tribal land in four districts. He also lamented at the rampant privatization of education in the state.


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