P Chidambaram attacks Centre over economic slowdown, says NDA has pushed millions of people below poverty line

New Delhi: Congress leader P Chidambaram mounted an unprecedented attack on the Centre on Thursday over the economic slowdown and questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “unusual silence” on the issue. 

Chidambaram, who was released on bail on Wednesday after spending 106 days in jail, said the Bharatiya Janata Party government believed that the problems faced by the economy were cyclical even after seven months into the current financial year. 

“The government is wrong. It is wrong because it is clueless,” he said. 

Govt is defending its catastrophic mistakes: “It is unable to look for the obvious clues because it is stubborn and mulish in defending its catastrophic mistakes like demonetisation, flawed GST, tax terrorism, regulatory overkill, protectionism, and centralised control of decision-making in the Prime Minister’s Office.”

According to the Congress leader, the previous UPA dispensation had lifted 14 crore people out of poverty between 2004 and 2014, while the NDA had pushed millions of people below the poverty line since 2016. 

“The economy can be brought out of the slowdown, but this government is incapable of doing that,” he said. “I believe that Congress and some other parties are better equipped to pull the economy out of the slowdown and push economic growth, but we have to wait for better times.” 

‘There is fear everywhere’: Asked about industrialist Rahul Bajaj, who had asked Union Home Minister Amit Shah if people were scared to criticise the government, Chidambaram said: “There is fear everywhere. Media also gripped with fear.” 

He said if the government believed that the Gandhi family did not require SPG protection, “then that is a cross the government has to bear”. 

The government had recently withdrawn the Special Protection Group security cover given to Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

‘Kashmiri people have been denied their basic freedoms’: At the beginning of his press conference, Chidambaram said his first thoughts upon his release were with the Kashmiri people who “have been denied their basic freedoms since August 4, 2019.” 

Chidambaram violated bail conditions, says BJP: Later, the BJP accused Chidambaram of violating bail conditions by claiming to have a very clear record as a minister, saying the case against him is essentially about corruption he was allegedly involved in as the finance minister.

Union minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters that the claim of Chidambaram amounted to “self- certification”.

The Supreme Court had asked the Congress leader not to speak about the case against him while ordering his release on bail. What he said is in violation of this condition, the BJP leader said.