UPA 'elevated' poverty; task cut out for new govt: Jaitley

11 June 2014

In his maiden speech as leader of the Rajya Sabha, finance minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday said the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government had left the economy in a shamble, but with the new Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government in place, investors around the world ''have started looking at India once again''.

Jaitley, while intervening in the thanksgiving motion to the President's address, pointed out that the UPA had inherited an economy that was growing at 8.5 per cent; but it was now down to under 5 per cent. This current rate of growth would have occurred even without a government at the centre, he said.

"What people want is governance, not social combinations as substitutes," Jaitely said. "We gained because of anti-incumbency against our opponents. After decades I saw return of massive crowds at rallies."

Aiming his remarks at the opposition benches, he said, "Are you aware of what state you have left the country in? For the last two years, India has grown at less than 5 per cent. You have left the country with low growth rates, high inflation, high fiscal deficits.

''There has been no poverty alleviation, but you have elevated poverty instead," he added on a punning note.

He said that as former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did not have any political authority, he did not have the last word on decision-making and did not take corrective measures on the 2G and coal block allocation scams as well as retrospective taxation issues. ''The enthusiasm in the Indian economy was shattered. Domestic investors were moving out. If there is no investment, there is no jobs,'' he said.

Saying that one must not be arrogant in victory or bitter in defeat, he admitted that his party had got a larger mandate than it expected, but added that the voters' expectations from the new government were also correspondingly high.

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