A week after Road Transport and Highways Minister Kamal Nath called the Planning Commission an "armchair advisor" oblivious to "ground realities", deputy chairman of the panel, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, hit back on Sunday, saying: "My view is that you cannot run a government only with people who know how to build roads. You have to give them a set of rules."
Speaking to CNN IBN, Ahluwalia agreed building roads was certainly different from writing guidelines but said: "It does not mean you (ministries) don't need advise. I mean accountants aren't people who build roads but you cannot build roads without having decent accounts."
Ahluwalia rebutted Nath's charges that the plan panel was not allowing his ministry to achieve the 20 km-a-day road-building target it had set itself.
But he added: "You have to relate that target to the funding that is available."
One of the roles of the Planning Commission is to scale down the demands of ministries, which typically ask for twice the money available to them, he said.
Another of Nath's jibes during his speech had claimed the world-class terminal at Delhi airport would never have been built had the Planning Commission been associated with it.
Ahluwalia noted said the plan panel had had a role, but was it was limited to selecting the operator (GMR Group).
"It was a public-private-partnership and the government's involvement was prior to the selection of the partner. It is absolutely true that once selected we didn't get involved."