Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday accused the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance government of weakening democracy with a “careful, well-thought-out calibrated effort”, PTI reported. “The country has witnessed credibility of institutions like Parliament and the Central Bureau of Investigation systematically denigrated,” he said at a press conference in Indore in Madhya Pradesh. “There is a careful, well-thought-out calibrated effort to weaken democracy.”
“The rule of law is under attack,” he said. “History shall never forgive our present generation if the situation is not changed.”
Madhya Pradesh will have its Assembly elections on November 28.
The Congress leader last month had said that the environment in Indian universities and institutions like the CBI was being vitiated under the current government. The party has been vocal in its protests against the Centre’s decision last month to send the CBI’s top two officials – Director Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana – on leave.
Singh described demonetisation as “organised loot and legalised plunder”. “It [demonetisation] is a done act and can’t be reverted,” he said. “It is up to the people to get rid of the government which brought them on this disastrous path.”
On the second anniversary of the note ban earlier this month, Singh had called the decision “ill-fated and ill-thought” and said November 8 was when Indians need to remember that “economic policymaking should be handled with thought and care”.
The government is attempting to prevail over big institutions and this is damaging to democracy and law of the land, said Singh.
Regarding the Rafale defence deal, Singh said that a Joint Parliamentary Committee should be set up to thoroughly examine the government’s procurement of 36 fighter jets from French company Dassault Aviation, Dainik Bhaskar reported. “Modi is not ready to constitute the JPC, which gives an impression that something is wrong,” he said.
Singh also brought up the rift between the central bank and government. “The relationship between the Reserve Bank of India and the finance ministry has hit a low,” he said. The tussle went public when RBI Deputy Governor Viral Acharya during a speech on October 26 said governments that do not respect a central bank’s independence incur the wrath of financial markets. Three days later, Reuters reported that the Centre was upset with the RBI for publicly talking about their differences.
Singh added that the RBI governor and finance minister share a “delicate relationship” and need to work together. “Even though the job of running the country rests with the government, specific responsibility is given to the RBI governor by the RBI Act,” he said. “There is a need to recognise inter-dependence of the two entities and work in harmony.”
Singh said he was happy with the reconciliation efforts after the RBI’s board of directors on Monday decided that a joint expert panel of the government and the central bank will examine the economic capital framework to decide on matters related to the bank’s surplus reserves.