Arun Jaitley calls Yashwant Sinha job applicant at 80

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Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday struck back at Yashwant Sinha, a former finance minister and a BJP party leader, by calling him a job applicant at the age of 80 who has forgotten his own record while heading the critical ministry.

He also charged Sinha with acting in tandem with a fellow former FM and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, saying the two seemed to have forgotten the barbs they have used for each other.

Jaitley, however, refrained from naming Sinha while speaking at an event of release of a book titled 'India @70 Modi @3.5' in the national capital, instead choosing to take an indirect swipe.

"Acting in tandem itself won't change the facts...Probably, a more appropriate title for the book would have been 'India @70, Modi @3.5 and a job applicant @ 80," he said.

"I must confess that I do not have the luxury as yet of being a former finance minister nor do I have the luxury of being a former finance minister who has turned a columnist," he said in a barely-concealed jibe at Sinha and Chidambaram, respectively.

Jaitley also invoked both his predecessors' records, saying "I can conveniently forget a policy paralysis (during UPA-II).

I can conveniently forget the 15 per cent NPAs of 1998 and 2002 (during Sinha's term as finance minister). I can conveniently forget the $4 billion reserve left in 1991 and I can switch over and change the narrative."

Sinha in an article on Wednesday criticised Jaitley over the "mess the finance minister has made of the economy" and went on to slam the government over decisions like note ban and the GST, the new universal tax regime.

Recalling Sinha and Chidambaram's running down of each other, Jaitley said "One said of the other 'Chidambaram will have to be born again to match my record as finance minister'. He then linked Finance Minister

Chidambaram to an incompetent doctor for failing to curb India's alarming fiscal deficit."

Sinha, Jaitley recounted, had also accused Chidambaram of running the economy into the ground, and of bugging his phones.

In the same vein, he also recounted how Chidambaram had called Sinha's tenure during the Vajpayee government as the "worst years since liberalisation".

In defence of the current National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, Jaitley said it is making incremental changes in the economy.

"Changing the old normal of black money and shadow economy was never the agenda of those who are criticising government's economic policies. Our government took decisive steps and we changed the normal with demonetisation. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a very strong agenda on creating a new normal as far as India shadow economy was concerned," he said.

"A new ideological polarisation is taking place in the country," Jaitley asserted, adding that "Demonetization was intended to make sure that this anonymous tender (money) get identified to its owner. Shadow economy was playing under the old normal and those who opposed it were the ones under whom shadow economy was operating," the minister said.
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Arun Jaitley


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