In a recent interview to Sawrajya magazine, Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed that upon his ascension to power, he noticed some suspicious figures in the 2014 Budget presented by the UPA government. However, he decided not to reveal the correct picture since it would’ve delivered a hard blow to the Indian economy, which was already in shambles.
“We all knew that the economy was in the doldrums but since we were not in government, we naturally did not have the complete details of the state of the economy. But, what we saw when we formed the government left us shocked! The state of the economy was much worse than expected. Things were terrible. Even the budget figures were suspicious,” said the PM.
According to Modi, the ground reality of the Indian economy was “unbelievable”. The information was so sensitive that had he disclosed it, it would’ve caused a major economic crisis. “When all of this came to light, we had two options – to be driven by Rajneeti (political considerations) or be guided by Rashtraneeti (putting the interests of India First),” said Modi.
Explaining his purview of politics, the Indian PM said, “Rajneeti, or playing politics on the state of the economy in 2014, would have been extremely simple as well as politically advantageous for us. We had just won a historic election, so obviously the frenzy was at a different level. The Congress Party and their allies were in big trouble. Even for the media, it would have made news for months on end.”
He continued, “On the other hand, there was Rashtraneeti, where more than politics and one-upmanship, reform was needed. Needless to say, we preferred to think of ‘India First’ instead of putting politics first. We did not want to push the issues under the carpet, but we were more interested in addressing the issue. We focused on reforming, strengthening and transforming the Indian economy.”
In order to save the country’s economy from a reputational crisis, the PM and his government decided not to publish a white paper on the condition in which the Indian economy was left by the previous UPA government.
“In 2014, industry was leaving India. India was in the Fragile Five. Experts believed that the ‘I’ in BRICS would collapse. Public sentiment was that of disappointment and pessimism. Now, in the midst of this, imagine a White Paper coming out giving intricate details of the extent of damage. Instead of being a mollifier, it would be a multiplier of the distress,” said the PM.