Bharatiya Janata Party leader Yashwant Sinha on Friday said that the lack of jobs would be a major factor in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, IANS reported. “The Indian voter is worried about whether his lad has a job or not,” he said. Earlier in the day, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had said the decline in employment in India over the past few years was a “very good sign”.

Yashwant Sinha added that apart from jobs, inflation would be the second big issue the economy faced as the country moves towards the 2019 election. “That adds to the frustration,” he said. “As far as employment is concerned, it will be a major issue. Household after household will be suffering from unemployment.”

The former finance minister, who had criticised the government and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for the current state of the Indian economy, also said he was happy that the economic slowdown was being debated. “I feel vindicated [on his article in which he criticised the government],” Sinha said. “My first satisfaction is that the issue is being debated. There is quite an informed debate going on. I stand by the facts and figures I quoted. I see no signs so far of a respite for the stressed sectors of our economy.”

Sinha said that the Reserve Bank of India had not revised interest rates, and asserted that even if the Centre decided not to increase government spending, the fiscal deficit would cross its target for the 2017-’18 financial year.

He said the government had not responded to any of his criticisms so far and also took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for saying that “only some people” were spreading pessimism about the economy, NDTV reported. He said that Modi should not take notice of people like him if they are just a handful. “If we are only spreading pessimism, then why was there a cut in excise duty on fuel, and why is the Goods and Services Tax Council in a huddle today?” he asked.