Mumbai: The BJP’s Maharashtra ally Shiv Sena has slammed the Modi government over its handling of the economy and has called on the administration to pay heed to former prime minister Manmohan Singh rather than making fun of him.
In an editorial in its mouthpiece Saamana, the party said the government’s decisions such as demonetisation and the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on the back of each other has dented the economy “as rightly pointed out by Singh”.
“On the economy, irrespective of what the bhakts may say, the truth is loud and clear and the usually silent Dr Manmohan Singh has spoken about this truth in gentle words,” the editorial reads. “For the last few years, the economy has only been seen in relation to party funds, horse-trading and winning elections, and the country’s administration is suffering as a result.”
The former PM had Sunday released a video statement, in which he said the state of the economy was “deeply worrying” and called on the Modi government “to put aside vendetta politics and reach out to all sane voices and thinking minds, to steer our economy out of this man-made crisis”.
The Saamana editorial dwelt on this aspect of the statement.
“Manmohan Singh has called for not politicising the economy and taking the advice of experts to stabilise the country,” it said. “The country will benefit if his words are taken seriously.”
The editorial, however, has praised the Modi government for scrapping Article 370 in J&K. “Modi has decided to teach Pakistan a lesson and we have no doubt that he will walk the talk on it, but the question of country’s economy and people’s livelihoods is just as grave,” the Sena said.
‘Manmohan had foreseen today’s situation’
The Saamana editorial also pointed out that Singh had warned about today’s situation four years ago, but was made fun of by the political administrators then. It said even Prime Minister Narendra Modi mocked Singh, saying he wears a raincoat under the shower.
“In short, the new political administrators painted Singh as someone who understands nothing about the economy,” the editorial said. “But whether Manmohan Singh wears a raincoat under the shower or uses an umbrella while jumping into ponds, we do not hesitate in accepting that he understands the country’s economy. The country also believes that.
“Manmohan Singh has been associated with the country’s economy for 35 years and has steered it in bad times. So if he finds a fault in today’s economic administration he has the right to speak out,” the party said, adding it is shocking to hear Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman still compare India’s economic development with that of China’s and America’s.
Political message behind the Shiv Sena’s stand
The Shiv Sena’s stand on the economy is yet another example of the party attempting to emphasise its identity as being separate from that of the BJP-led government despite being a part of it.
The Shiv Sena has been showing that it will not toe the line on everything that the BJP says or does. It consistently and bitterly criticised the Narendra Modi-led government in its first term over its policies despite being a constituent of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
There was a clear power tussle between the two parties but the Sena would defend its criticism of its own government saying it is first accountable to people, then the government, and can take on the latter in the interest of the former.
The parties buried the hatchet ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, deciding to contest the poll and the upcoming assembly election as an alliance. The relations between them have improved since then.
Praising the government on its action in Kashmir while criticising it on its economic policies on the same page is a way of showing that the party has not changed its stance despite its reconciliation with the BJP, and it will continue to play the role of a watchdog within the government.