Congress leader P Chidambaram today wondered if it is possible to ensure long term economic growth by excluding the largest minority community or women or backward communities from Assembly polls. Noting that the BJP emerged as the 'clear winner' in Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, he said, "The victory was achieved by the party without fielding a single candidate from the Muslim community in any of the 403 seats in a state, where Muslims constitute 19.3 per cent of the population."
"The 'sab ka saath sab ka vikas' slogan has acquired a new and sinister meaning. Imagine a situation where no woman is fielded as candidate by one of the national parties or a situation where a national party declines to field candidates in seats reserved for scheduled castes or scheduled tribes," Chidambaram said.
He made these comments while delivering the first annual lecture on the topic 'Will India Script an Uninterrupted Growth Story', organised by The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy here.
"I ask you, is it possible to ensure long term economic growth by excluding the largest minority community or women or the scheduled castes or the scheduled tribes (from contesting assembly polls)," he said.
Earlier, the former Union Finance Minister slammed the BJP government for "failing" to undertake any reforms to boost the economic growth in the budget presented in 2014.
"By end of March 2014, there were clear signs of recovery and the growth rate of economy climbed back to 6.54 per cent under the new methodology. With crude prices falling further and commodity prices declining and a new government in place, the stage was set for a major push towards growth," he said.
"The budget (presented in 2014) was expected to announce bold structural reforms that would have given a big push to infrastructure and manufacturing sector, but, sadly, it was a disappointment," he said.
"It was obvious that no one in the government or among its advisers had crafted a coherent plan. Instead of reforms, the government seemed enamoured by events like Swachh Bharat, International Yoga Day, Make in India...," Chidambaram said, adding, these were presented as reforms.
Though there were lots of "activities", none of the government initiatives contributed in boosting economic growth, he claimed.
"The activities distracted the government from its main task of designing and implementing a reform programme," he said.