Dear Dr Manmohan Singh,
It was pleasant seeing you speak in Ahmedabad. After all, for 10 years you kept people at the edge of their seats just in anticipation to hear one word from their Prime Minister. As your long-drawn silence has ended, I must say, however, that it has only further degraded your image, as even today, you haven’t escaped the clutches of 10 Janpath.
This isn’t about us expecting you to be right, but about you – a well-educated man who’s still revered by many as the ‘liberator’ of the Indian economy – pandering to the distorted, selfish, and completely rejected viewpoints of a handful of corrupt people presiding in the upper echelons of your party. Our expectation was only that when you do speak on the economy, you’ll use your wisdom of decades and not reiterate the hollow arguments that are also propagated by abusive trolls of your party on social media. It would’ve been nice had you kept that distinction alive. But alas.
In Ahmedabad, you spoke on GST, but your particularemphasis was on demonetisation and its effects. If I go on to say that you should have kept quiet, then your party people and some of your cohorts in the media will level their trademark allegation of me trying to encroach on your freedom of speech. So, all I wish to do is counter some of the points you made in your speech with facts, and raise some questions for you to answer (if you need someone’s permission to answer them, please do so).
The catchiest of the statements from your speech was – “I repeat what I said in parliament, this (demonetisation) was organised loot and legalised plunder.” May I – an ordinary Indian who doesn’t have even 1% of the economic expertise and judgment that you possess – take the risk of explaining to you what ‘organised loot’ is?
• Coal Scam – Loss to exchequer was of Rs 1.86 lakh crore which was in fact more than 10 lakh crore if not for the CAG keeping out PSUs from its report.
• 2G Spectrum Scam – Loss to exchequer was of Rs 1.76 lakh crore.
• Commonwealth Scam – A conservative figure states this scam resulted in a loss of Rs 90 crore to the exchequer.
• Cash-for-Vote Scam
• Adarsh Scam
• Augusta Westland Scam
As you well know, I could have gone on. What’s striking is your silence during the time such organised loot to fill the coffers of a few was going on despite you being the Prime Minister of the country, a position with unprecedented powers. So, when you call demonetisation, a move made with the right intentions as ‘organised loot’, it doesn’t sound rich, it sounds downright despicable.
You said that suggestions to recall large currency notes to curb tax evasion and black money had been suggested to earlier governments too, but you never took such a drastic measure as the cost of demonetisation would exceed its benefits very substantially. To quote, you further said: “Nowhere in the world has any democracy undertaken such a coercive move (of) withdrawing 86 per cent of legal tender in one single (stroke). Neither would anyone advise bringing out even more high currency notes of Rs. 2,000 after elimination of 500 and 1,000-rupee notes.”
I truly feel embarrassed at having to explain to you why the 2,000-rupee note was launched; it was for immediate and short to middle-term ease as such a huge economy couldn’t have sustained on just low-denomination notes such as the 100 and 50-rupee ones. Plus, the printing of the 100-rupee note would have to have been at an unprecedented scale to make up for even a little of the currency that was being flushed out of the system. Your statement implying how can we do something that no one has doesn’t surprise me. It is how you ran your government (or did you?) – in a meek and subservient way allowing the evils of the system to get the better of the common man. Extravagant measures are just not your style.
Your focus on thrashing demonetisation was determined and frankly commendable. Despite not there being an iota of humanly expression on your face, you seemed like a man high on some potion that compelled you to twist every little innocuous notion of the 8November move into something that was an inch away from bringing the economy down.
You then shifted your focus to GST, and how it was ‘ill designed’ and with ‘loopholes’ and how you’ll ‘revamp it when you come to power in 2019’. First of all, GST was the UPA’s initiative as was loudly claimed by many of your top leaders. Secondly, weren’t your chief ministers a part of the GST Council that decided upon the nuts and bolts of the taxation reform? Don’t you think that it is rather audacious of you to preach on this matter when your party was a part of it all?
“GST benefitted China.” Your party – including you as the prime minister – is responsible for blatantly compromising India’s security to the benefit of both Pakistan and China. Jawaharlal Nehru’s Panchsheel and Indus Water Treaty; his accepting a ceasefire in the 1947 war just when the Indian Army had started taking back territory from Pakistan; his not allowing the IAF to participate in the 1962 Indo-China War that ended in the slaughter of our soldiers; his gifting the UNSC seat to China; your government’s moves to handover Sir Creek to Pakistan; your agreeing to talks on Kashmir with Pakistan at the UNGA just a few days after its army beheaded a few of our soldiers; your silence and inaction after the Mumbai terror attack…you and your predecessors have a glorious history – that could be lauded in the ornate confines of 10 Janpath but certainly not in the streets of India – of bending over to our adversaries.
Another one of your jibes was you calling the bullet train project an ‘an exercise in vanity’. This exposes how there’s absolutely no coordination in your party, and how from being a spineless man you’ve descended to being a hypocritical one as well. When Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Abe inaugurated the project in Ahmedabad, your party’s Twitter handles were going gaga over how it was your idea to bring the bullet train to India. So, wasyour own idea to start with, useless? Also, had your government not looted the country so much, then we would have had the resources to undertake four maybe five such bullet train projects.
My last point concerns how you claimed that Prime Minster Modi, when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, never met you to talk of the Sardar Sarovar Dam. The truth, however, is that he met you in June 2009 to discuss the matter and wrote to you asking for 90% assistance from the centre for the project.
In a very short span of time, you’ve completed the journey in the eyes of people from being a servile man to someone who has untapped potential for hypocrisy and lies.
To end with, I’d say that the lastperson who has any moral right to question the functioning of the current government is you. You were at the helm of the most corrupt and inefficient government in our history, you did nothing to tackle the menace of black money or to ease business-doing, and you sent out to the world an impression of a feeble and decrepit India that makes me hang my head in shame. Please go about your business of acting as a lackey to Sonia Gandhi, but stop – and I plead with folded hands – making a mockery of India and its people.