New Delhi, Sep 29: Finally, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is talking about "business" (yes, the saffron party's politics over cow and Hindutva seem to have taken a backstage), albeit the notes are ominous as it's about country's ailing economy.
All the noises emanating in the last two days from the corridors of BJP parivar (family) are too incoherent for the public (voters) to understand whether the party leaders really mean "business" and serious about conducting a surgical strike (remember surgical strike is one of the BJP's favourite words) to recover the nation's economy from a state of comatose or they are too busy washing dirty linen of each other in full public view.
On the one hand is senior BJP leader and former finance minister, Yashwant Sinha. After the suave and articulate leader, who like other BJP veterans, LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, have been "benched" by the Narendra Modi government, decided to "break his silence" and rip apart finance minister Arun Jaitley over the "mess" he has created in the last three years, the saffron party entrusted Sinha's son and Union minister Jayant Sinha to counter the criticism over a failed economy accelerated by twin blows of demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
So, a day after senior Sinha's "targeted missile" attack solely against Jaitley (yes, the former FM did not hold Modi responsible for any of our financial woes, except for one line accusing the PM of making Indians poor) over the deceleration in economic growth in a scathing article in the popular English daily, The Indian Express, on Wednesday, his son wrote a rebuttal in another English daily, The Economic Times, totally contradicting all the economic concerns raised by his father on Thursday.
As the father-son duo fight over divergent views on India's current economic status, one thing comes out clear how well the BJP can use even a son against his father to keep the image of some of its most powerful men (read Modi and Jaitley) clean.
This is a systematic trend in the Indian political space, as our rulers, irrespective of political parties, only know to take credit over "good" things, but whenever something goes wrong they duck for cover and try to save their skin from any criticism.
But the BJP's calculation to pit father and son against each other failed miserably, as senior Sinha proved to be a better and nuanced financial analyst than his son, who seems to be in a denial about the reality like his party.
"So, what is the picture of the Indian economy today? Private investment has shrunk as never before in two decades, industrial production has all but collapsed, agriculture is in distress, construction industry, a big employer of the work force, is in the doldrums, the rest of the service sector is also in the slow lane, exports have dwindled, sector after sector of the economy is in distress, demonetisation has proved to be an unmitigated economic disaster, a badly conceived and poorly implemented GST has played havoc with businesses and sunk many of them and countless millions have lost their jobs with hardly any new opportunities coming the way of the new entrants to the labour market.
"For quarter after quarter, the growth rate of the economy has been declining until it reached the low of 5.7 per cent in the first quarter of the current fiscal, the lowest in three years. The spokespersons of the government say that demonetisation is not responsible for this deceleration. They are right. The deceleration had started much earlier. Demonetisation only added fuel to fire," wrote the former FM.
In reply to his father's attack on Jaitley, junior Sinha wrote, "GST, demonetisation and digital payments are game-changing efforts to formalise India's economy. Transactions that were taking place outside of the tax net and in the informal sector are now being brought into the formal sector.
"In the long term, formalisation will mean (a) tax collections go up and more resources are available to the state; (b) friction in the economy is reduced and GDP goes up; and (c) citizens are able to establish credit more effectively as transaction records are digitised."
In an analysis of the father-son's fight, Firstpost wrote, "Sinha's (Jayant) piece largely repeats the government's line of listing out the positives and potential gains of policy moves, as against Yashwant Sinha's pointed criticism on the faulty management of economy by the government."
It is not just junior Sinha who decided to go against his father (a practice totally divergent from the sanskari BJP which follows India's tradition where a son hardly speaks against his father), but incumbent and angry finance minister Jaitley decided to personally attack his predecessor for showing "courage" to speak truth to power (as he has nothing to lose at the ripe age of 84 and has long left electoral politics).
On Thursday, Jaitley hit out at senior Sinha by suggesting that the former FM is eyeing his chair and a "job applicant at 80" and thus he lambasted him over the "failed" economy.
Jaitley, looking desperate to save his chair (although nowhere in the article the former FM asked the incumbent FM to resign), defended his track record and repeatedly claimed that the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has been taking decisive steps, in contrast to the former United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government's "policy paralysis".
A fearless senior Sinha, who is hell-bent to expose the rot in the economy, told The Indian Express that "Jaitley wouldn't be there if I had been a job applicant." The former bureaucrat-turned-politician told NDTV that it was a "cheap trick" if son Jayant was told to write the rebuttal.
In the midst of all these pari'war', it is the Congress leaders like former FM P Chidambaram and of course a few disgruntled BJP leaders like actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha who looked the "happiest" over the infighting and came out in defence of senior Sinha, who has been dubbed as a "frustrated man".
Now, if you want to know what the most powerful man in India, who is holding the reigns of the country, has to say about the doldrums in economy, courtesy the much-publicised demonetisation and GST, expect total "silence" and nothing else.
Yes, this is what PM Modi's stand has been in regard to all the country's problems, the growing economic crisis is no different.