The Shiv Sena on Friday attacked the Narendra Modi government, saying it is responsible for the economic crisis in India. The party asked the Centre to take loan from the World Bank as states need more money to shield their economy from the coronavirus pandemic-induced disruptions to businesses and livelihoods.

An editorial in the Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamana said the government is trying to “wash its hands of the crisis”. It said the Centre should firmly stand with the states and blamed demonetisation and “mishandling” of the pandemic for the current situation.

“On March 13, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said there was no health emergency in the country, while on March 22, the prime minister imposed a one-day ‘janata curfew’ and on March 24 announced a 21-day lockdown with just four-hour notice,” the newspaper said. “The chaos and uncertainty which began that day continues even now.”

The article said that five states Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Delhi have been the worst-affected due to the pandemic and suffered losses worth Rs 14.4 lakh crore. The Centre owes the Uddhav Thackeray-led government in Maharashtra a compensation of Rs 23,000 crore for the shortfall in Goods and Services Tax collection, it added.

The Saamana article claimed the ruling government also stopped supply of medical equipment to Maharashtra this month, which will lead to Rs 300 crore burden on the state exchequer.

“The [Congress-led] UPA government had extended all assistance to the government of Gujarat [ruled by BJP],” it said. “It is the job of the Centre. At least 22% of revenue in the Centre’s exchequer comes from Mumbai. But the Centre is not ready to help states...Since the Centre is responsible for the economic crisis, it should take loan from the World Bank and help states.”

On Tuesday, Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur told Parliament that the World Bank had provided India three loans amounting to $2.5 billion (Rs 18,386 crore approximately) to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

The Indian economy saw its worst contraction in decades, with Gross Domestic Product shrinking by a record 23.9% in the April to June quarter and reflected the severe impact of the coronavirus-induced lockdown.

Since the pandemic shut businesses in March, unemployment in the country has also surged sharply. On August 18, a report by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy said nearly 50 lakh salaried persons lost their jobs in July as a result of a partial lockdown.

Several global rating agencies have made gloomy predictions for the Indian economy. The Asian Development Bank has said that India’s economy will contract by 9% in the 2020-’21 financial year. On September 8, American credit rating agency Fitch Ratings sharply lowered its growth forecast for India, saying that the country’s Gross Domestic Product for the financial year 2020-’21 is expected to contract by 10.5%, instead of its earlier estimate of a 5% contraction.