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Arun Jaitley backs finance ministry official as Swamy’s attacks continue

“An unfair and false attack on a disciplined civil servant in the Finance Ministry,” tweets FM.

india Updated: Jun 23, 2016 22:28 IST
Aloke Tikku
Arun Jaitley
Finance minister Arun Jaitley during an interview with Hindustan Times at his office in North Block.(Sanjeev Verma/ HT File Photo)

Finance minister Arun Jaitley defended key policy makers for the second time in 24 hours on Thursday as BJP parliamentarian Subramanian Swamy continued his tirade against top civil servants, embarrassing the Narendra Modi government.

“An unfair and false attack on a disciplined civil servant in the finance ministry,” Jaitley tweeted, hours after his party’s Rajya Sabha MP flung corruption allegations at economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das on Twitter.

“I think there (is) a property deal case pending against him for assisting PC (former finance minister P Chidambaram) swallow Mahabalipuram prime locations,” Swamy tweeted after a follower, @Proud_Indian, suggested it was time to send the IAS officer back to the Tamil Nadu cadre.

The Twitter tirade signaled an escalation in Swamy’s offensive against top finance ministry officials despite Jaitley defending civil servants and expressing “full confidence” in chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian a day before.

Read: Swamy won’t stop, targets economic adviser Subramanian again

The finance minister’s remarks on Wednesday followed Swamy’s allegations that Subramanian acted against India’s interests when he was in the United States and encouraged the Congress to “become rigid” on the proposed goods and services tax bill.

The BJP also distanced itself from its parliamentarian on Wednesday, saying the party didn’t agree with his views.

But Swamy appeared undeterred by the snubs. “I have nothing to do with what Jaitley says. I can talk to the party president or the prime minister,” he told reporters on Thursday afternoon.

Asked when he would do that, he said, “When the need arises. There is no need now.”

Das is the latest target of Swamy whose earlier invectives against Raghuram Rajan was seen as contributing to the Reserve Bank of India governor ruling out a second term after September. Swamy accused the central banker of wrecking the economy, alleging he was “not fully Indian” since he held a US green card.

Read: ‘Sack him’: After Rajan, Swamy targets chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian

The BJP leader started the day announcing to his 2.8 million followers that he will suspend his demand for Subramanian’s removal but continued the barbs, indicating that he was reluctant in giving up the campaign.

“If BJP Union govt says that we know all about AS but still he is an asset, then I will suspend my demand and wait for events to prove truth.”

The BJP MP demanded the adviser’s sacking on Wednesday, alleging Subramanian gave statements earlier asking the US Congress to pressurise India.

“He was working with Pfizer’s research institute and was batting for the US drug companies earlier,” he said.

The MP also dug out an article by Subramanian that apparently took an uncharitable view of Narendra Modi’s performance as Gujarat chief minister.