The Opposition on Tuesday criticised the government’s latest financial package and called them “cosmetic announcements”, reported PTI. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday announced LTC cash vouchers and special festival advance schemes for government employees to boost demand.

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Tuesday said the package was just another “sly attempt” to impress people with “exaggerated numbers”. “After carefully reading the statement of the finance minister on the so-called stimulus package, I am reminded of the Hindi proverb ‘Khoda Pahaad, Nikla Chuha’ or loosely translated, it means ‘dig a mountain and find a mouse’,” he said during a virtual media briefing.

“The grand announcement yesterday was no stimulus package to push economic growth, it was another sly attempt to dazzle the people with exaggerated numbers and lead them to believe that the government is hands-on and responsive to the needs of the people and the economy.”

— P Chidambaram

Chidambaram said that the announcement of the latest package was a testimony that the earlier Rs 20 lakh crore stimulus package was a failure. “It was a failure because it was a hoax,” he added. The former finance minister cited economists to claim that the value of the stimulus was merely 0.1% of the GDP.

The Congress leader also criticised the government for its condescending attitude. “Just as the BJP has been telling people what to eat, what to wear, what language to speak, who to love, who to marry etc., it is now trying to control people on their spending preferences,” he alleged. “This is another piece of retrograde interference in people’s lives.”

The former Union minister once again spoke about direct cash transfers. “The government stubbornly refuses to make a cash transfer to their accounts as recommended by dozens of economists and as demanded by the Congress and other political parties,” he added. “I am sure they are watching the government’s pitiful efforts to revive the economy that will register a de-growth of 10% in 2020-21.”

The Communist Party of India, on the other hand, called the announcement of the package “a move to hoodwink people” to show its concerns before the Bihar Assembly elections. It added that the package was meant to divert the attention of the people from the government’s failures.

“CPI terms the announcement of a set of measures by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on October 12 for reviving consumption and investment activity in the economy as nothing but a move to hoodwink the people from the real problems facing the people and country.

The party in a statement said the package will not really boost the economy. “The economy is in a shambles and any piecemeal approach to boost consumer sentiments is in fact aimed at hoodwinking the total failures of the Modi government in solving the burning problems of the people and country,” it added. “The finance minister has again come out with some cosmetic announcements,” the statement said.

It said the cash voucher scheme was not equivalent to “putting money into the hands of the people and is only fooling people”.

“The party is of the view that on the eve of Bihar assembly elections, the government only wants to show that it is concerned. In fact, it is doing nothing to arrest the rising inflation, create more jobs and put money into the hands of the people.”  

— Communist Party of India

The Centre’s announcements came ahead of the festival season. 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.