To say that former finance minister Yashwant Sinha has opened a can of worms by penning a scathing critique of the Modi government’s economic policies will be an understatement, as the article not only exposes the ruling dispensation’s ostrich approach to problem solving but also the internal power dynamics of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
As Yashwant Sinha’s article I need to speak up now went viral, the BJP countered it with a two-pronged strategy. First was to dismiss its own party leader as disgruntled and frustrated and second was to make his son Jayant Sinha, who is a union minister, to write a counter. Jayant, who was junior finance minister before he was shifted to civil aviation, explained how the economy is being misread and elaborated the structural reforms undertaken by the Modi government. But the father’s message travelled longer than the son’s. The Congress party, which had been struggling to find a chink in Modi’s armour, discovered the huge crack and trumpeted Sinha to prove that the economy was in a mess. Sinha is no ordinary BJP leader and he is not someone who is known to mince words.
As spokesperson for the BJP before 2014, he would come up with stinging criticism of the UPA government in Parliament. Expanding on his article, Sinha in his subsequent interview also hinted at the internal dynamics of the BJP. The former finance minister explained how he had been waiting in vain to meet the prime minister for the last 10 months to give feedback on his back-channel efforts in Jammu and Kashmir.
It clearly shows that former stalwarts of the party have been slowly nudged out of the equation. Sinha is the second senior minister of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee dispensation to have turned a critic of the Modi government. Earlier, journalist-turned-politician Arun Shourie had raised the red flag about the Modi government’s policies on a number of occasions. Even Shourie was dismissed by the BJP as a disgruntled soul who made a noise, apparently for not getting a cabinet berth. But it will be a simplistic way of looking at the words of caution by senior leaders who occupied prime positions in Vajpayee-led NDA.
The economic indicators are certainly pointing to a larger crisis in the waiting and any denial by the government about the situation on the ground will spell doom. A revival package is eagerly awaited and the government can no longer hide behind the argument of economy hitting speed breaker because of the structural reforms undertaken to expand its formalisation.