Former BJP leader Yashwant Sinha on November 17 accused Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman of “fudging” budget numbers to conceal the real fiscal deficit.
Speaking at the Mumbai Lit Fest, Sinha, a former finance minister himself, alleged that Sitharaman relied on estimates used in the interim budget of February 1, though the CAG had later provided revised estimates till July 5, when the annual budget was presented.
The finance minister, in response to similar objections earlier, had claimed that every figure in the Budget was authentic.
“She used revised estimates….because the revenue receipts had declined so considerably that she wouldn’t have claimed that fiscal deficit would be only 3.3 per cent or whatever that claim was,” Sinha said.
“She fudged the figures and it was so blatantly obvious that the figures were fudged,” he alleged.
He had called up a few MPs highlighting the discrepancy, but none of them took it up in the House, he said.
The bureaucrat-turned-politician said the country was in a “mess”, which was far more serious than what was imagined six months ago, and extended beyond the economy.
He also hit out at the Narendra Modi government for revoking the Overseas Citizen of India status of writer Atish Taseer, comparing the situation to Emergency, and added that an era of “personal vendetta” had begun.
Taseer’s OCI status was withdrawn for allegedly not disclosing that his father was a Pakistani national. The Government had denied that it had anything to do with his unflattering article about Modi in the Time magazine.
Referring to jailed former finance minister P Chidambaram, Sinha alleged that the Modi government had also scrutinised all the decisions taken by him (Sinha) in the last four decades.
He had, still, chosen to speak his mind, he added.
The current “undeclared emergency” is far more pernicious than a declared emergency, the former BJP leader said.
He also alleged that his son Jayant Sinha, who was a minister of state for finance in the first Modi government, suffered because of Sinha’s criticism of the BJP.
Jayant was shifted to an “insignificant ministry” (civil aviation) and in 2019, despite retaining his Bhagalpur seat with a bigger margin, was dropped from the government, Sinha said.
“He got his reward thanks to me,” Sinha added.