A day after Finance Minister P Chidambaram taunted him for presiding over "worst years" of Indian economy since liberalisation, BJP leader Yashwant Sinha today hit back saying Chidambaram has always "played fraud" in the Budget, including the interim one for the current fiscal.
"I may have been the worst finance minister after 1991, but I did not commit fraud. Chidambaram has been the cleverest finance minister since 1991 and has played fraud on the budget not only this year but always," Sinha said in a statement.
Rubbishing Chidambaram's assertions of containing fiscal deficit, he said the numbers have been dressed up by postponing payment of subsidies and whopping Rs 80,000 crore cut in plan expenditure.
"I...add that he had played fraud in the interim Budget and that the next government should come out with a white paper to expose his lies," said Sinha, a former Finance Minister.
Quoting a published article, he said that in the 1997-98 Budget Chidambaram had targeted a fiscal deficit of 4.5 per cent of GDP. When the next government presented the Budget for 1998-99, the deficit had ballooned to 5.8 per cent.
"Instead of challenging me on facts, Chidambaram has decided to attack me personally. Let me remind him that it is not my tenure in the Finance Ministry, which ended 12 years ago, which is in question. It is the performance of Chidambaram and Manmohan Singh on the economic front which is under question in this election," he said.
Sinha also accused Chidambaram for non-passage of Direct Taxes Code (DTC) and Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill.
Sinha said: "To put the record straight, I had submitted the report of the Parliamentary Standing on Finance on the DTC Bill to the Speaker, Lok Sabha on March 9, 2011. If the UPA government failed to finalise its views the fault lies with it and not with me.
"Similarly, the report of the Standing Committee on the GST Constitutional Amendment Bill was presented on August 7, 2013. If Chidambaram had done his homework, he could have brought the bill for passing to Parliament in the winter session of 2013. He cannot now blame the state governments of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat for delaying the bill." Yesterday, Chidambaram had accused the BJP-ruled states of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh of stalling progress on the GST regime for indirect taxes.
On the Insurance Bill, Sinha said it was Congress which had insisted at restricting FDI ceiling of 26 per cent in the sector in 1999.
Subsequently, the Standing Committee on Finance examined the bill and came to the definite conclusion that given the global financial uncertainties, FDI in the insurance sector should be restricted to 26 per cent only, he said.
"I have stood by the recommendations of the Standing Committee as its chairman and the view taken by the parliamentary party of the BJP was unanimous; there was no difference between the two leaders of opposition and me on this issue," Sinha said.
"Chidambaram's failure as far as passage of financial sector legislations is concerned was not merely restricted to these three bills. He could not get any important bill passed despite receiving the report of the Standing Committee in good time," he added.