Interacting with the business community, professionals and media in Mumbai, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, on Thursday, said that Maharashtra has been facing an economic decline for four consecutive years and that in the past five years the state has seen the maximum factory shutdowns.
Lashing out the Narendra Modi-led BJP government on the state of current Indian economic scenario and rural distress, Dr Manmohan Singh said that passing the buck to Congress does not work.
"Industrial slowdown has impacted by rising Chinese imports. In five years, imports have risen by more than Rs 1.22 lakh crores. Chemicals, fertilisers, electronic goods & automobiles manufactured in Maharashtra have seen rising import," he said.
"Maharashtra was once number one in attracting investment, now it tops in farmer suicides," he said.
He pointed out that every third person in the state is unemployed. He said that it is no surprise that the youth are opting for low paying jobs.
"The government talks about a lot of things...two crore jobs will be provided....exactly the opposite is happening. People are losing jobs. The government believes in headline management and not taking concrete steps to solve problems," he said.
"Distress prevailing in our rural areas will add to the unemployment problems as migration increases. As water shortages approach, the situation will worsen if not addressed soon," he said.
"As demand and production have contracted due to economic mismanagement, business sentiments are down across the state & many firms face closure. The industrial slowdown is coming in India’s way to optimally utilise its demographic dividend," he said.
He said the BJP's model of governance has utterly failed as it is obsessed with trying to fix blame on opponents and unable to find a solution for strengthening the banking system.
He said, "Much advertised double engine model of governance on which BJP seeks votes has utterly failed. Maharashtra has faced some of the worst effects of the economic slowdown. Manufacturing growth rate of Maharashtra has been declining for 4th consecutive years."
"The current government should have learned and provided credible solution to solve problems of the Indian economy. Five-and-a-half years is enough time to solve issues. Passing the buck to Congress for India's problem does not work," Dr Singh said in Mumbai.
Reaching the goal of 5 trillion dollar economy in 2024 requires a 10%-12% GDP growth, he said, adding that under the BJP government growth rate is declining year after year.
Dr Singh, an internationally-acclaimed economist, said a growth rate of 5.5-6% economic problems will not be solved.
BJP's goals of reaching double-digit targets will turn out to be hollowed, he said.
About the ongoing PMC Bank crisis, the former PM said, "I expect the government of India, RBI and the govt of Maharashtra to put their head together and provide a credible, pragmatic and effective solution to this case where 16 lakh depositors are trying for justice."
To a question on the BJP Maharashtra unit's proposal for a Bharat Ratna to Veer Savarkar, he said: "Indira Gandhi had issued a postal stamp to commemorate Veer Savarkar. We are not against Veer Savarkar....we do not agree with his ideology."
On the issue of nationalism, the former PM said: "Nobody is more patriotic than the Congress party. Our role in the fight for the independence of India is well known. BJP's presence in the freedom struggle was non-existent. Congress doesn't need a certificate of nationalism from anybody."
The Congress opposition to scrapping of Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir, he said: "The high handedness manner in which removal of article 370 was implemented is what we were opposed to."