Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Centre on Monday, saying that demonetisation and the hasty implementation of the Goods and Services Tax were two of its major blunders. Singh was addressing a press conference in Bengaluru, ahead of the Karnataka elections, which will be held on May 12.

“The losses the economy suffered due to these blunders have severely hurt our micro, small and medium enterprises sector, and resulted in loss of tens of thousands of jobs,” Singh claimed.

“Our farmers are facing an acute crisis, our aspirational youth are not finding opportunities, and the economy is growing below its potential,” Singh said. “The unfortunate truth is that each of these crises was entirely avoidable.”

Singh said that while the economy grew at an average of 7.8% during the rule of the United Progressive Alliance despite poor global conditions, the National Democratic Alliance’s four years in power have seen a lower growth rate though there is a favourable international climate and oil prices are low.

“Through constant increase in taxes and at the cost of the common man, the BJP
government is projected to have earned over Rs 10 lakh crore,” Singh claimed. “India must demand answers as to what use this money was put to?”

Singh alleged that the Centre’s economic “mismanagement” had caused the people’s faith in the banking sector to erode. “Recent events which resulted in shortage of cash in many states were preventable,” he said. “[But] instead of taking prompt corrective action, the government has been busy providing excuses and peddling conspiracy theories as to what led to the problem.”

The former prime minister said petrol and diesel prices were at a historic high despite low crude oil prices globally. “This is because the Modi government chooses to levy excessive excise taxes,” he added.

Singh also criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for blaming all the ills of the country on several decades of Congress rule. He said that the Congress had ushered in the Green Revolution, introduced economic liberalisation, and passed the Right to Information Act among other things. The former prime minister said the UPA’s policies had lifted 14 crore people above the poverty line in 10 years.

Singh also accused Modi of trying to polarise the society ahead of the Karnataka Assembly elections. Singh said the things prime minister has been saying against his opponents, is not good for the country.

‘Narendra Modi has stooped so low’

“It is all the more shocking that the prime minister of India stoops so low and uses language which is unbecoming of a prime minister, particularly when he’s in a state where elections are taking place,” Singh told reporters, according to PTI. “No prime minister has used these election times to say things in a manner that Modi is trying to. I sincerely hope he will now learn the lesson and not seek to polarise our society, the way he is doing day in and day out.”

Don’t retaliate when our workers are killed, Modi tells BJP

Meanwhile, Modi said on Monday that BJP members should not take “vengeance” even if they lose their workers to political violence, ANI reported. Modi was interacting with the Karnataka BJP’s Yuva Morcha workers through the Narendra Modi app.

“Violence in any form should not be allowed by any political party or ideology in democracy,” Modi said. “In Karnataka, several BJP workers have lost their lives. There should be space for political debates but one must not indulge in violence. I appeal to the BJP’s youth workers not to act in vengeance.”

The prime minister also attacked the Opposition for complaining about “every other matter”. “The Opposition is protesting against every other issue, from usage of Aadhaar to tampering of electronic voting machines,” he said. “However, the BJP is promoting the use of technology.”

Modi claimed that if the BJP government was elected to power in Karnataka, it would create 60 state-of-the-art Namma Business Process Outsourcing complexes, and set up a corpus of Rs 250 crore to enable local entrepreneurs to set up these enterprises. He added that five world class sports centres would also be established in Karnataka.