Highlighting that the global financial crisis in 2008 pales in comparison to the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman emphasized that the Congress-led UPA government of the time should have addressed it with sincerity and transparency.
The White Paper, which assesses the alleged economic management during the ten years of the Congress-led UPA government, draws comparisons with the claimed positive outcomes of the BJP-ruled dispensation over a decade.
Congress’s NK Premachandran and TMC’s Saugata Roy presented substitute motions expressing disapproval of the White Paper under rule 342. Sitharaman, in her address, asserted, “The comparison shown in this paper clearly says how, if the government handles it with true sincerity, transparency, and putting the nation first, the results are there for everybody to see.” She pointed out the consequences when the nation isn’t prioritized, citing examples from both crises.
Sitharaman stated, “The global financial crisis after 2008 wasn’t as serious as COVID-19. Still, I would want to say that it was a crisis, and the government should have handled it with sincerity and transparency.” She criticized the UPA government, claiming that it failed to take necessary actions during the global financial crisis, allowing scandals to persist, which left the country in a critical state.
Responding to opposition sloganeering, Sitharaman emphasized the seriousness of the document, urging it to be treated with the gravity it deserves. The White Paper, comprising nearly 60 pages, was presented in both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. It alleged that the UPA government abandoned reforms after assuming power in 2004, failing to build upon the foundation laid by the previous BJP-led NDA government.
The White Paper pointed out scandals in the defence sector, suggesting that corruption and scandals in defence compromised preparedness. It also highlighted delays in the acquisition of weapons and referred to the “coal scam,” emphasizing the arbitrary allocation of coal blocks and its cancellation by the Supreme Court in 2014. The paper cited the 2G spectrum scam, coal gate scam, and the Commonwealth Games (CWG) controversies, asserting that these instances tarnished India’s image as an investment destination.