The nation has witnessed yet another act of statistical sophistry by P Chidambaram. The FM has mastered the art of deception and has developed a habit of artificially ‘managing’ numbers to pat himself on his back. Intellectual subterfuge and unseemly obfuscation have become hallmarks of the ‘dream team’ of the Congress, who have together left a legacy of economic stagnation and loss of confidence in the India story.

Let me draw your attention to how the fiscal deficit target was ‘achieved’. The FM’s standard practice is to overstate revenues and understate costs. He defers revenue expenditure and cuts capital expenditure. He over-books revenue, only to ‘revise’ it downward. This year, he cut capital expenditure by Rs 91,000 cr, which would have disastrous long-term consequences for the investment cycle and job-creation.

However, he did not choose it worthy of cutting non-plan revenue expenditure – why are we not surprised? He overstated revenues from service tax and excise duties last February, but receipts unsurprisingly fell short of his estimates by Rs 33,000 crore. He also claimed his miscellaneous capital receipts would be Rs 55,814 cr whereas he achieved less than half of that. Not choosing to learn, he again projected a fanciful number on this count, for next year’s budget.

Parliament is also abuzz with the news that subsidy expenditure worth Rs 35,000 crore will be rolled over to next fiscal. I am convinced the FM does this on purpose. Rahul-led Congress’ double-speak and lip-service on poverty needs to be exposed. On the one hand, they went to town claiming credit for initiating the Food Security Bill last year (which was in itself an agglomeration of existing schemes) but this year, has chosen to silently cut its budget by Rs 10,000 crore. Therefore, government spending on food subsidy has actually declined, and not increased, despite the burden of back-breaking inflation. Can Congress answer?

Similarly, the budget documents reveal that the Drinking Water and Sanitation budget would be slashed from Rs 12,000 cr this year to Rs 231 cr next year. On the one hand, their Rural Development Minister gives sanctimonious statements on the importance of toilets, and on the other hand, this Congress government in all its wisdom, chooses to practically stop all government funding to drinking water and sanitation.

Congress has made a habit of shouting from rooftops about their peerless concern for minorities, their bleeding hearts for women and their undying love for rural India. Can they come forward and tell us why budgets for these three crucial areas have been slashed by over Rs 20,000 crore? One also wishes that the Prime Minister would give an accurate report of his government’s performance on the economic front.