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Report for report, rivals match each other

In politics, rivals are prone to countering each other word for word, quite literally. So, if the Congress quotes The Economist for an authoritative endorsement of the Manmohan Singh government’s policies BJP vice president Yashwant Sinha turns to London’s Financial Times to buttress his party’s case, reports Shekhar Iyer.

delhi Updated: May 05, 2009 01:22 IST
Shekhar Iyer

In politics, rivals are prone to countering each other word for word, quite literally.

So, if the Congress quotes The Economist for an authoritative endorsement of the Manmohan Singh government’s policies BJP vice president Yashwant Sinha turns to London’s Financial Times (FT) to buttress his party’s case.

Holding up the FT report, Sinha said, “If they (the Congress) draw comfort from The Economist, what about Razeen Sally’s article in the Financial Times of London in which the economic performance of the UPA government, and especially the role of Dr Singh as a ‘do-nothing, zero-reform’ Prime Minister, has come in for severe criticism?”

Quoting Sally’s report, the 72-year-old BJP senior said: “Mr Singh has proved a hopeless decision-maker as prime minister… Mr (P.V. Narasimha) Rao and A.B. Vajpayee proved their mettle despite heavy political constraints. Mr Singh has failed.”

On Sunday, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh (62) had shown off The Economist’s cover story on India’s “jumbo” elections, which had said, “The Economist, if it had a vote, would plump for Mr (Manmohan) Singh’s Congress.”

Sinha said, “Even The Economist which Digvijay Singh quotes with such pride has said in the same article that the NDA government’s performance on the economic front was creditable. We would also like to remind the Congress party that quoting foreign sources can be a double edged weapon.”

On Monday, the BJP had asked Sinha to essentially counter the Prime Minister’s remark that the saffron party’s campaign to bring back black money would “alert” those who had stashed away their money in tax havens abroad and that the BJP had no understanding of economics.

“We plead guilty to the last charge. The BJP does not understand economics as well as Dr Manmohan Singh (76) and Rahul Gandhi (38) do,” Sinha said.

“At the same time, we would like to assert that even with our limited understanding of economics, the BJP/NDA government managed the economy much better than Dr Singh with his vast understanding of the subject.”

Earlier, Digvijay Singh had said, “Anybody who understands the issues would go along with The Economist. You cannot suspect the impartiality of the prestigious journal.” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi (50) had described The Economist’s observation as a “significant statement as objective and distantly frank as US President Barack Obama’s endorsement of India and Manmohan Singh.”