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regular-article-logo Thursday, 18 April 2024

White vs Black paper war erupts as BJP and Congress unveil documents and cross swords

Hours before Nirmala Sitharaman tabled copy of 'White Paper on the Indian economy', Mallikarjun Kharge released 'Black Paper' to target Narendra Modi government

Our Special Correspondent New Delhi Published 09.02.24, 11:06 AM
Nirmala Sitharaman

Nirmala Sitharaman File picture

A 'White Paper' versus 'Black Paper' battle erupted on Thursday as the BJP and the Congress unveiled documents and crossed swords over the handling of the Indian economy during the nearly 10 years of the BJP-led NDA rule and the previous 10-year tenure of the Congress-led UPA government.

Hours before finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman tabled a copy of the "White Paper on the Indian economy" in the Lok Sabha on the economic performance during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government's 10-year tenure, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge released a "Black Paper" to target the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led central government.

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The BJP said it faced a "hydra-headed challenge" in fixing the Indian economy and "restoring its fundamentals to sound health", noting it received one of the world's more fragile economies. "... now, we are among the 'top five' (and) making the third highest contribution to global growth...".

"In 2014 when we formed the government, the economy was in a fragile state, public finances were in bad shape, there was economic mismanagement and financial indiscipline, and there was widespread corruption. It was a crisis," the White Paper claimed.

The tone and tenor of the paper portray Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a messiah riding on a white horse bringing about economic transformation from the brink of collapse, rekindling the “India Shining” campaign of the BJP before the 2004 Lok Sabha polls.

However, the Black Paper released by the Congress party, on the other hand, alleges that the Modi government's 10 years in power have devastated the country's economy, aggravated unemployment, destroyed the country's agricultural sector, abetted crimes against women and committed grave injustices against minorities in the country.

The 54-page Black Paper said the highest rate of unemployment in 45 years, going from 1 crore in 2012 to 4 crore in 2022, 10 lakh sanctioned central government posts still unfilled, despite the high unemployment, 33 per cent unemployed amongst graduates and postgraduates and 2 employed persons dying by suicide every hour.

The 59-page White Paper said we have turned the economy to having a "twin balance sheet advantage" for companies as well as the banking sector with ample capacity to ramp up investments and credit and generate employment.

On inflation, the Congress put out data that claimed steep increases in the price of essential commodities from 2014 to 2024: 120 per cent increase in the cost of LPG; 37 per cent for petrol and 64 per cent for diesel; 59 per cent for mustard oil, 59 per cent for atta (whole-wheat flour) and 71 per cent for milk.

On the other hand, the BJP said “Then, we had double-digit inflation; now, inflation has been brought down to little over 5 per cent”.

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