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Never used office to enrich myself, family or friends:Manmohan


New Delhi:  Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today hit out at the Modi government saying it was “harping” on corruption to divert people’s attention to non-issues and asserted that he never used public office to “enrich” himself, family or friends.

In a scathing attack, Singh said that institutions of democracy are under threat and the entire edifice of the welfare state is now being dismantled in the guise of promoting faster economic growth.

“As far as I am concerned, I can say in all humility that I have not used my public office to enrich myself, to enrich my family or my friends. And still the BJP government keeps on harping on this theme of corruption because it wants to distract the attention of the people to non-issues,” he said in a hard-hitting speech at an event here.

His comments came in the wake of former TRAI Chairman Pradip Baijal’s allegations that Singh had warned him of harm if he did not cooperate on 2G telecom licenses. Baijal, who was probed for several years in connection with the 2G spectrum allocation scam case, also claimed that the CBI wanted him to “implicate” Arun Shourie and Ratan Tata in the case.

Asserting that many of UPA’s programmes were being repackaged and marketed as initiatives of the BJP government, Singh said, “What the BJP had opposed when we were in power are now being sold as its contribution”.

Rejecting criticism of “policy paralysis” in the UPA, he said when his government left, India was the second fastest growing economy in the world and noted there was a “fragileness” in economic recovery under the current dispensation.

“The past is continuously being rewritten to promote a highly biased and communal view. Dissent is being suppressed,” Singh said.

“Institutions of democracy are under threat. The entire edifice of the welfare state is now being dismantled in the guise of promoting faster economic growth, whereas they are two sides of the same coin,” he said.

The Congress party has tried hard to ensure that India flourishes as an open pluralistic, liberal secular democracy proud of its composite heritage, he said.

“This very idea of India is now under systemic assault. We must understand how this assault is being mounted and then come up with out response,” Singh said.

Singh said there have been two “constant themes” of the BJP leadership — one is corruption in UPA and the other is policy paralysis — and both were “untrue”.

“I want to assure you that we have been fighting corruption. We continue to fight corruption,” he said.

Talking about farmers issue, Singh said there is acute distress in rural areas and if people there are “fed up” with the Modi government in one year, then things cannot be good.

On the economy, Singh said investments are not going up and exports are on the decline.

“Look at what is happening to investment. Investment is not going up. Look at what is happening to agricultural production. Agricultural production is declining. Our farmers are in distress. Look at exports. Exports are declining.

“Throughout the country, there is an acute distress in rural areas. 65 per cent of our people live in rural areas. If they are dissatisfied, if they are fed up with this present regime in one year. Then, obviously things cannot be that good,” he said.

The former PM said it was an obligation on the part of the Congress to give “correct” information to people about what was wrong with the BJP government and the “false talk” about the weaknesses of the UPA government.

“The Chief Economic Advisor of the Ministry of Finance and the RBI Governor are of the view that recovery is fragile and indeed if you look at the harsh reality you will find all is not well with the state of our economy under the BJP dispensation,” he said.

The former Prime Minister also called the Make in India programme of Modi government a “carbon copy” of UPA’s initiative.

“Look at the issue of Make in India…. This is a carbon copy of a programme that our government had chalked out and the New Manufacturing Policy. We had pledged that we will raise the share of manufacturing in GDP,” Singh said.

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