Congress leader Jairam Ramesh scored a self-goal in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday when he sought to take a dig at finance minister Arun Jaitley over GDP figures, advising him to consult “outstanding economist” Subramanian Swamy, a known Nehru-Gandhi critic.
If it caused dismay and consternation among his Congress colleagues, the finance minister rubbed it in stating how Ramesh concentrated on 3Gs — GDP, GST and Gas — in his speech but “probably let down the fourth one”, an obvious reference to the Gandhi family.
Swamy is the complainant in the National Herald case in which Congress president Sonia Gandhi, vice-president Rahul Gandhi and four other party leaders are facing a criminal case. He is also in the forefront of the attack on Sonia Gandhi in the AgustaWestland helicopter deal inside and outside Parliament.
Participating in the debate on the Union finance bill, Ramesh said it was his “3-G speech” in which he questioned the GDP figure, put forth his position on the proposed legislation to enable the rollout of the goods and services tax (GST), and spoke about the CAG report on the alleged scam in the GSPC investments in KG basin. He said “nobody believes in India’s GDP figures” and Swamy “agrees” with him. Ramesh went on to praise the BJP MP as an “outstanding economist who has written seminal articles on statistical methods” in international journals.
“He (finance minister) can get Dr Swamy to head a commission to review his GDP estimates and in this process he may end up saving his job as well,” said the Congress lawmaker in probably his last speech in the Rajya Sabha. His term ends next month.
In his reply to the debate, Jaitley used his characteristic wit and humour to attack the Congress leader, saying there were “many firsts” that Ramesh has scored, including his demand for a discussion on the CAG report on a state PSU in the central legislature.
“I think he is the first Congressman to score a new first. He is the first Congressman who has the history to publicly praise Dr Subramaniam Swamy. He advised me to consult him. I am conscious of the experience and wisdom of Dr Swamy. He first became the member of this house in 1974,” Jaitley said
“He is a well-known economist. I will certainly consult him but I must compliment the courage and conviction of Jairam Ramesh that whereas he concentrated on 3-Gs, he probably let down the fourth one inasmuch as he indulged in this new misadventure of doing what he did today,” he said.
The finance minister was unstoppable.“Another first that he has scored is that he is the first MP to tell the Supreme Court that you must start interfering in the speaker’s and chairperson’s ruling with regard to the conduct of the business of the House,” he said. He was referring to Ramesh’s PIL in the Supreme Court challenging the Lok Sabha speaker’s decision to treat the Aadhaar bill as a money bill.