Denouncing the BJP government’s White Paper as a ‘hatchet job’ and a ‘white-lie paper’, Congress leader P Chidambaram has launched a scathing attack on the political dispensation. He said that the aim of the White Paper is to tarnish the previous administration’s image while masking the current government’s failures.
Releasing a statement, Chidambaram, who served as Finance Minister from 2004 to 2014, lambasted the paper as a ‘political ploy’ devoid of academic integrity or scholarly research.
Chidambaram, in his critique, asserted that the White Paper failed to offer a fair and unbiased assessment, as it arbitrarily began its analysis in 2004 and abruptly ended it in 2014. This led to the omission of a comprehensive examination of the periods before and after these dates. He said that a thorough evaluation should encompass a reasonable timeframe which was beyond partisan boundaries.
The former Union Finance Minister said, “A fair and unbiased assessment of any period will not start arbitrarily with 2004 and end abruptly in 2014. It would have assessed a reasonable period before 2004 and included a reasonable period after 2014. The paper released today is not a white paper; it is a paper that is intended to whitewash the many sins and commissions of the NDA government in the last 10 years.”
Challenging the BJP’s record, furthermore, Chidambaram highlighted a series of unfulfilled promises made by the government since assuming power. According to his statement, these promises included pledges regarding the creation of two crore jobs annually, repatriation of black money stashed abroad within 100 days, doubling farmers’ incomes, significant reduction in fuel prices and establishing 100 smart cities by 2022. The Congress leader accused the BJP of reneging on these commitment while expressing no remorse, characterising them as mere “election jumlas” that were “laughed off”.
He said, “No government on assuming office had made wild promises as the Narendra Modi government and broken them without an expression of regret. In fact, the government laughed them away as election jumlas.”
Chidambaram pointed to the achievements of the UPA government, while contrasting economic performance and citing impressive GDP growth rates and fiscal discipline during its tenure. He highlighted the “golden period of growth” between 2005-06 and 2007-08, during which the Indian economy recorded GDP growth rates exceeding 9 percent, accompanied by robust fiscal indicators such as low revenue and fiscal deficits.
He observed, “The Indian economy recorded the golden period of growth in the three years between 2005-06 and 2007-08, when the GDP grew at 9 per cent or more at an average of 9.5 per cent. The Indian economy achieved its best fiscal performance in 2007-08, when the fiscal deficit was 2.5 per cent and the revenue deficit was 1.1 per cent.
Moreover, while providing statistical comparisons between the NDA and UPA governments, Chidambaram underscored the disparities in GDP growth rates, national debt, fiscal deficits, farm wages growth, household savings and non-performing assets (NPAs) of public sector banks. Citing a decline in spending on critical sectors like health and education, alongside skyrocketing fuel prices, he criticized the government’s handling of the economy.
Restating his criticism of the White Paper, in summary, Chidambaram characterised it as a deceitful effort to conceal the BJP administration’s failures while unfairly blaming its predecessors. The Congress leader urged the public to critically examine the government’s claims and offered to present further analysis in the future to debunk what he termed as the ‘white-lie paper’.