UPA govt left the economy in shambles and "elevated" poverty: Jaitley
New Delhi: Government on Tuesday said the previous UPA had left the country in "shambles" with low growth and "elevated" poverty and asserted the strong leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi will help correct the situation as per people's expectations.
Intervening during a debate in Rajya Sabha on motion of thanks on the President's address, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said a lesson of last Lok Sabha polls was "perform or perish" and the people's aspirations had put the additional burden on NDA government.
Terming UPA rule as an era of "missed opportunity", he referred to some specific sectors and said railways had hardly seen any improvement and so was the case with highways, rural infrastructure, ports and airports.
He said UPA rule, instead of alleviating poverty as was tom-tommed by it, had "elevated" poverty and the election results were the reflection of public anguish as for the first time since 1984 a single party had got absolute majority.
"The enthusiasm in Indian economy was shattered. Domestic investors were moving out. If there is no investment, there is no job. You have left the country, in your own words, not at poverty alleviation, but at elevated poverty," Jaitley said.
Slamming the Manmohan Singh-led government, he said, the country's growth rate had been disappointing for the last two years at "less than five per cent" despite the fact that it had inherited a healthy 8.5 per cent rate of growth 10 years ago.
"In 2004, when you came to power, you had inherited 8.5 per cent growth from NDA. What did we inherit? For the last two years, India's growth has been less than five per cent. It is a disappointing figure...You left the country with low economic growth," Jaitley said.
It was not just subdued GDP growth, he said, the economy was also plagued by a host of issues like high inflation and fiscal deficit and low tax collection. The performance of the manufacturing sector too was also in the negative terrain for the last two years, he added.
Jaitley suggested the current situation in the country was mostly because the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was not "tough" when the situation had so warranted including on 2G spectrum and coal block allocation issues. He also accused the UPA government of not paying heed to the sentiments of common people and being arrogant.
"We have major challenges...Reviving the national economy. Manufacturing growth gone into negative...Where are jobs?," he said, adding this was the last opportunity to make India a low-cost manufacturing hub.
However, he said as NDA has come to power riding on "high expectations" of people, this has put a greater "burden" on the government to perform.
Jaitley assured the new government will push growth taking along all stakeholders.
"Election results itself have become an important political statement. Once again, domestic and foreign investors have started looking at India. Therefore, for us, who are the repository of public confidence, the onus is on us whether we can convert this into opportunity or not," he said.
In a veiled attack on Congress, Jaitley said those who thought that political leaders did not grow on merit but only within families and relied on dynasties as the only instrument of leadership creation by and large suffered a serious setback in this election.
Similar treatment were meted out to those who thought minorities were not equal citizens but merely a vote bank and relied on consolidation only to be disappointed and those who had indulged in political opportunitism such as switching alliances, he said.
"What do all these facts indicate? That Indian democracy now is evolving...People don't want political instability. They want government to govern well and that dynasty and caste will not be substitute for governance," he said.
The results were reflections of people's helplessness and anguish and thus, the verdict was about an anti-incumbency and an expression of hope in another party or government at the same time.