Yeshwant Sinha’s concerns deserve attention

By Santosh Bhartiya

This is the second father-son story of our time. Yashwant Sinha handed his Hazaribagh Lok Sabha seat to his son Jayant Sinha with the hope to see him firmly established in politics in his life-time. Yashwant Sinha continued to be in touch with the people of Hazaribagh. He is a big name in Jharkhand politics, though he is even a bigger leader at the national level. I was due to Yashwant Sinha’s stature that his son, Jayant Sinha, came to the Lok Sabha and Prime Minister Modi handed him the rein of Ministry of State for Finance. In the last cabinet reshuffle, he got Ministry of State for Civil Aviation.

Yashwant Sinha is one of Chandrashekhar’s most trusted lieutenants. Janata Dal could not have been seen the light the day without his and Kamal Morarka’s efforts. It was due to their farsightedness Janata Dal was formed and the merger of Chandrasekhar ji’s Janata Party took place. During his prime ministership, Chandrashekhar has handed Yashwant Sinha the responsibility of the finance ministry. He discharged his duties as Finance Minister with grace and utmost dexterity. It was during his tenure that “balance of payment” crisis had emerged and to deal with that crisis we had to pledge our gold reserve. At that time, the BJP and the Congress had created a lot of brouhaha over it, but Prime Minister Chandrasekhar stood his ground and took this tough decision on the advice of Yashwant Sinha. It was this decision that saved our credibility and salvage deteriorating financial condition of the country. During his tenure there was a huge financial burden on the country. Moreover, the first Iraq war had started and we were facing severe consequences of that war.

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Yashwant Sinha has always been such a student of politics, who never compromises on the questions of national interests. When he joined the BJP, he joined it in consultation with Chandrasekhar ji. Atal Bihari Vajpayee also reposed faith in him and given the responsibility of the Finance Ministry. He discharged his duties with such deftness that he soon became the one of close confidants of Atal ji’s, despite having non-BJP, non-RSS background. Atal ji evaluated, appreciated and rewarded his hard work by including him amongst his trusted people. He also won the favour of Advaniji through his hard work and performance.

Yashwant Sinha is disturbed by the country’s current economic situation. He made several suggestions, publically as well as personally, to the government as to how to get out of current slump. But now it seems that he must have been run out of patience with the government’s indifference to his suggestions that he had to write an article in a newspaper, underlining many shortcomings of the government. The other reason behind his going public with his remarks perhaps is that the party’s prominent personalities like L.K. Advani, Murali Manohar Joshi, and elected MPs or MPs of the Rajya Sabha have no dialogues with the Prime Minister. Hence, their concerns about the country do not reach to the Prime Minister. However, in his article Yashwant Sinha pointed out the following: poor decisions making vis-à-vis demonetization and the GST, fall in GDP growth rate at alarming speed, the lack of decision making by the Finance Minister and his inability to take tough decisions. Yashwant Sinha got all round applaud for what he said in his article.

Taking dig at Arun Jaitley he said he has become like a Superman, whom the prime minister has entrusted with the responsibilities of four ministries, while enormity of work of only finance ministry is such that it require more than twenty-four hours of work. It is impossible even if he does not take a nap to apprise the prime minister with challenges associated with development, job creation, etc., of such a vast country and perform the duties of other ministries as well. Coming out with an article in public might be his method to get the answer from Arun Jaitley as to whether his concerns are wrong or right.

The concerns raised by Yashwant Sinha’s vis-à-vis the economy and the Modi government are not baseless, as we all see them happening around us. Arun Jaitley is not an expert of financial matters. He is a good lawyer but he is not a financial expert. This is why the country’s economy is in such state. Perhaps that’s why a full-time finance minister is needed in the finance ministry – the country thinks so, political parties think so and maybe the BJP too thinks so. All of my acquaintances in the BJP, whether they are from RSS background or non-RSS background, or MPs of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, they all say that Arun Jaitley is a very good man, and he one of the most trusted people of the Prime Minister. Then it would be better if he steps down from all ministries and becomes a minister without portfolio, and logically elucidate the report of all ministries to the Prime Minister. Perhaps this may be most important role for him. During his tenure as Defence Minister, the country would have been at the receiving end had there been a war with some other country. The companies would have faced reverses had ignored them as minister in charge. Arun Jaitley’s favorite subject is the corporate world of India, of which he is darling and blue-eyed boy. But the finance ministry has to suffer a lot because of Arun Jaitley’s ignorance and the Prime Minister’s decision to make him minister in charge. Perhaps this is the concern that Yashwant Sinha has raised.

The ministers of the government have started responding Yashwant Sinha in the same manner as they used to respond Rahul Gandhi’s foreign speech. Nineteen ministers took on Rahul Gandhi for 24 hours. Piyush Goyal and Rajnath Singh were the first to launch attack on Yashwant Sinha. When the government or for that matter the prime minister realized that their attack on Yashwant Sinha was not yielding desired results, then they brought in Yashwant Sinha’s son Jayant Sinha to defend the government.  What was his defence? “Economics policy cannot be measured through old methods; new methods should be applied for that.” Perhaps Jayant Sinha or the government understands this. But one thing is understandable to everyone that the power is such a corruptible thing that one forgets his relationship too, even if that is father-son relationship!

Jayant Sinha is currently holding the responsibility of the Ministry of Civil Aviation. Why he came out to respond to a matter related to finance ministry in the first place? Perhaps he was asked to do so, but it was a stupid decision. Arun Jaitely or the minister of state for finance should have responded Yashwant Sinha’s questions. However, these questions were posed by the same Yashwant Sinha whose work in Kashmir was not appreciated the prime minister, while was seeking time to time to meet the prime minister. Perhaps in this backdrop answering his question by Arun Jaitley might have been seen by the government as an entrapment. Hence, Jayant Sinha was brought in the scene.

The circle of Yashwant Sinha’s admirers has been expanded. He also got the favour of a small section of his party. Shatrughan Sinha was the first to openly call him a great leader and supported him. As per my information, Murli Manohar Joshi and L.K. Advani also agreed with him and it would not be surprising if during the next session of parliament when all MPs would be in Delhi, there would be serious discussion on questions raised by Yashwant Sinha, and few interesting developments could emerge from within the party.

Although the government will not do it, but we expect the government to take the questions whether raised by the newspapers, by the television channels, by the politicians or by the most responsible people of their party, Yashwant Sinha is one of them. What’s wrong in responding to them and addressing the concerns raise therein? Having one’s own independent point of view is what we call healthy politics. Healthy politics is quintessential aspect of a healthy democracy. If you turn blind eyes to it and take it to lowest level that answering any question is not necessary for you, then it is not a democracy; it may be classed as dictatorship. But the question is whether this country is in favor of accepting dictatorship right now. Set the social media aside, because a large number of hired sycophants are sitting there, and the country cannot run by sycophancy. Responsible people run the country. Here again we urge Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take up the work of the Finance Ministry, brought all the economists of the country, who do not have allegiance with the left or the RSS, but who are associated with the country and discuss ways and means to improve the current perilous situation. We have full faith that if the Prime Minister takes this task into his own hands, the solution will also come out and we will be able to arrest economic slowdown. Will the prime minister really perform his duty towards the country, in which he can spend his time in trying to find out solution of the financial slow down?  It is in fact the need of the hour and it our humble request to the Prime Minister.

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