NEW DELHI - Having assailed Finance Minister Arun Jaitley over the "mess" in the economy, BJP veteran leader Yashwant Sinha attacked the government on the Kashmir imbroglio, insisting "India has lost people of the valley emotionally".
In an interview to 'The Wire' recorded on Friday, the former Union minister answered questions from journalist Karan Thapar on him being criticised for an article he wrote in a leading English daily on the state of economy that left the BJP embarrassed.
Sinha termed as "exaggerated claims" the success of the various reforms and schemes undertaken by the government like the Mudra Bank.
"I am looking at the alienation of the masses of people in Jammu and Kashmir. That is something which bothers me the most… We have lost the people emotionally… You just have to visit the valley to realise that they have lost faith in us," Sinha said.
Sinha leads a civil society organisation -- Concerned Citizens Group (CCG) -- which has visited the troubled Valley several times and interacted with various stakeholders to explore the possibility of finding a lasting solution to the seven-decades-old problem.
The group comprises eminent people from different walks of life like Justice (retd) A P Shah, former Mumbai police commissioner J F Ribeiro, Wajahat Habibullah, A S Dulat, Aruna Roy and Ramchandra Guha.
Sinha claimed he has sought an appointment with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss the issue 10 months ago and was "hurt" as it did not materialise.
"I am hurt. I am absolutely hurt. That you ask for time, 10 months has gone by…Let me tell you, ever since I have been in public life, no prime minister of India, starting with Rajiv Gandhi, has ever said no to a meeting I have sought… no prime minister has said to Yashwant Sinha, ‘I don't have time for you.'
"And this is my own prime minister who has treated me like this. So if somebody rings me and says please come talk to me—sorry, the time has passed… I have been treated shabbily," he said.
Sinha also took on Jaitley for suggesting that his shifting from the finance to external affairs ministry when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister was a "demotion".
"How can [Jaitley] say that shifting from the ministry of finance to external affairs was a demotion for me? … If Mr Jaitley with the same stroke wants to say that Sushma Swaraj, the external affairs minister of today, is handling a totally insignificant portfolio, nobody is going to believe it."
He debunked claims by several BJP leaders and ministers, including his own son Jayant, Minister of State for Civil Aviation, that the government has made massive structural changes which will help the economy in the long run.
Sinha claimed Mudra scheme set up to provide funding to non-corporate, non-farm sector income generating activities of micro and small enterprises, was another name for the Pradhan Mantri Swarozgar Yojana launched by the Vajpayee government.
He said the average loan in these accounts was a meagre Rs 11,000.
"And you tell me, in today's day and age, what kind of business can be set up with Rs 25,000 rupees, Rs 50,000. The party president said that all these 80 million people today are self-employed which means we have created 80 million job opportunities. This is absolutely untenable," he said. — PTI