PC, Jaitley spar over Modi stand on CAD

PC, Jaitley spar over Modi stand on CAD

Top Congress and BJP leaders were embroiled in another verbal spat, with Finance Minister P Chidambaram questioning the saffron party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s silence on crucial economic issues like current account deficit.

Seeking to demolish a strong defence put up by senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley, Chidambaram said the Opposition leader chose to attack him for comments made in a lighter vein and ignored serious issues.

In an interview to BBC, Chidambaram had said Modi’s knowledge of economics could be jotted down on a postal stamp.

Jaitley on Wednesday said Chidambaram thought he was the “principal repository of all economic wisdom”, though the country’s growth story was turning into a “nightmare”.

In response, Chidambaram said Jaitley was expected to rush to Modi’s defence. “He has responded to my lighter vein comment on ‘back of a postage stamp’ and I enjoy such exchanges. However, he (Jaitley) has carefully avoided other questions that I raised. Why has Modi said nothing about fiscal deficit, current account deficit and monetary policy?” the minister said.

Chidambaram further said: “Why do Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat oppose the Goods and Services Tax and prevent a consensus? Why did Modi write to the prime minister, opposing the Food Security Act? If Indian-owned multi-brand retail will not destroy jobs, how will FDI in multi-brand retail destroy jobs?”

Jaitley had also targeted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, saying the economy was not managed well despite him being an economist. The BJP leader said political administrators who manage the economy “are not known by their academic attributes but footprints of performance they leave behind”.

He cited examples of former prime ministers Narasimha Rao and Atal Behari Vajpayee, “who would find a special mention in history for building a consensus on economic issues and asserting themselves to overrule their critics”.

Unlike Modi, Chidambaram and Singh did not have the ability to overrule their critics and “caved in even when obsolete suggestions were made by their party leadership,” Jaitley said.

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