Economy being treated by incompetent doctors, waiting outside ICU: Chidambaram

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Former Union minister P Chidambaram.

Former Union minister P Chidambaram on Monday launched an all-out attack on the Narendra Modi-led government over the state of the economy, saying the "patient, which is being treated by incompetent doctors, is waiting to be pushed into the ICU".

The senior Congress leader, who was speaking in the Rajya Sabha during the Budget Session of Parliament, said, "I say the economy is not in ICU, but it is waiting to be pushed into the ICU. It is being kept outside and looked after by incompetent doctors."

Referring to former RBI chief Raghuram Rajan and former chief economic advisor Arvind Subramanian's warning on the economy, he said, "You made sure Raghuram Rajan and Arvind Subramanian left. Even Arvind Panagariya couldn't stay longer. You need to get rid of your doctors but who are your doctors?"

"Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee said the economy is in bad shape and central ministers started pouncing on him," he added.

Taking a jibe at the ruling party's slogan 'sabka saath, sabka vikas', Chidambaram said, "What is the purpose of standing around the patient and chanting 'sabka saath sabka vikas' when the patient is dead?"

The Congress leader also said that the government is "living in denial" and is unwilling to admit its mistakes.

"We have an economy perilously close to collapse and must be treated by very competent doctors. We are living in denial and ignoring the two big elephants in the room: one is rising unemployment and falling," he said.

On the recently announced budget, Chidambaram said the government made no announcements to revive demand. "You can do this only by giving the money to the masses. However, you chose to give it to the 200 corporates by giving them a tax-cut rate. We had warned you that it will not translate against investment and that is exactly what has happened," he said.

"Today, there is no money in the hands of the people. There are no incentives for anyone. Under this fear, no one will invest in India," he added.

Taking potshots at Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, he said, "I am happy that the finance minister did not mention in her speech 'ache din aane wale hain' (the good days are going to come). Its good that they have forgotten that empty slogan."

"But she did mention a new slogan 'sabka sath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwas'. Tomorrow, we will know whether this slogan is acceptable to the people, at least from one part of India," he said, in an indirect reference to the impending Delhi Assembly Election results.

He also slammed the finance minister for "not picking a single idea from the Economic Survey" while preparing the budget. "Not even a single idea was discussed in Parliament," he said.