Finance Minister Arun Jaitley chided his UPA-era predecessor P Chidambaram on Congress' manifesto in his press conference on Tuesday, hours after the Congress party released their 'Hum Nibhayenge' vision document, saying 'whatever he (Chidambaram) writes - the devil will always be in the detail.'
Describing the NYAY minimum income guarantee scheme, which the Congress chief Rahul Gandhi described as the election narrative in his press conference after the release of their manifesto, Jaitley highlighted how details of the proposed scheme were emerging in a piecemeal fashion:
"The NYAY bluff that they are creating, they did two things today: See, if you suppress the truth, it is difficult to find it out. But truth has a quality, no matter how much you try to hide it, it will break all barriers, and will leak itself out. Two more things were clear after the manifesto - that only Centre is not responsible for it. It will come from the Centre as well as the states. You have 5 states. You didn’t this say on the first day. So truth is coming out slowly. This will be a joint scheme of the Centre and the states."
Pointing directly at Chidambaram, Jaitley said :
"Specially when Chidambaram sahab writes, the devil is always in the detail. And second they wrote - ‘Of the existing subsidies, merit-based subsidies will remain. Now you can call anything non-merit based’ - that fertiliser is non-merit based. And because you have dragged states into it, certain states will say that they are running such and such scheme. You will make all of them non-merit based. Then you will say that the people under the Below Poverty Line is decreasing every year, so you will deduct from those who are above BPL. So you kept a weapon ready in your hands so that you can say that fiscal burden will not be there."
He then named former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan and other eminent economists who have endorsed the Congress' NYAY, especially in terms of the impact it'll have on India's fiscal math:
"First they said nothing will be there, then they said ‘over and above.’ Dr Rajan said - ‘We will see the fiscal deficit after the election, if fiscal deficit will allow then we will do or we won't'. Abhijeet Banerjee said ‘we will increase the taxes’. Chidambaram sahab said ‘we will keep a hen, she will lay eggs and thus our financial system will expand and we will fund from it.’ And now they are saying ‘we will take a part of it from the states’. And just imagine, if the state comes and says that we are already paying so much, so we don’t agree to your suggestion.' But you can come up with these type of ideas only when you know you will never get a chance to implement them.”
Jaitley summed the promises made by the Congress party as ‘promises done out of ignorance’.