NEW DELHI: Some of the pronouncements of Congress leaders are to the “left of Karl Marx” and the top leaders of the party appear to be opposing legislation without being aware of their content, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said.
Some Congress leaders are towards more left of Marx: FM Arun Jaitley
Expressing disappointment over the delay in passing the legislation establishing a goods &services tax (GST), the finance minister said in an interview that Congress’ stand was “disappointing for the country” as the Bill had first been brought by UPA and the former ruling party was well aware the path-breaking reform of indirect taxes may face difficulties in meeting a April 1, 2016, deadline.
Reacting to criticism by a section of industry that the government was not moving fast enough and that it was difficult to access top leaders, Jaitley said some industrialists might be discomfited as “transparent systems have replaced discretions, rent-seeking and crony capitalism”. Among the government’s biggest achievements, as it approaches its first anniversary, was putting the economy back on track and the absence of corruption.
Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi has mounted a series of attacks on the Modi administration in which he has sought to position the principal opposition party as the defender of farmers, workers and fishermen, who are allegedly bearing the brunt of probusiness policies.
Notably, he has coined the phrase “suit-boot ki sarkar” to describe the Modi regime’s alleged pro-corporate proclivities. In the interview, Jaitley dismissed the Congress critique, terming the party “anti-development”.
“If I closely watch and analyse some of their speeches, some are towards left of Marx. Something which has become completely anachronistic and hostile to growth,” Jaitley said.
“Congress is positioning itself as anti-development and antigrowth,” Jaitley added. Without naming any individual, the finance minister claimed the top leadership of Congress seemed to be unaware of the content or background of key legislation such as GST and the Real Estate Bill. As a result, the party’s stand was driven by the “mood” of its leader, Jaitley claimed.
“I get an uneasy feeling that the top leadership of Congress doesn’t go into the fine print either of the Bills, or its history, which is associated with them. They go by momentary mood of their leader, which is obstructionism,” he said.
The government’s policies towards business were not to favour anyone. The general thrust of policy, Jaitley said, was to make it easier to do business. That might make companies who received spectrum or mines for free during the UPA era unhappy, but that was merely the difference between “market liberalisation and crony capitalism”.