Fake encounters and terror found mention in an unlikely context on Monday: a slugfest between finance minister P Chidambaram and senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha over the economic performances of the UPA and the NDA governments.
The battle raged in the backdrop of the BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi’s claim that the Vajpayee government had given a growth rate of 8.4% to India, but the UPA had brought it down to 4.8%.
Modi’s claim attracted a rebuke from Chidambaram, and Sinha returned fire on the BJP’s behalf.
“I wonder why Narendra Modi should stage a fake encounter with facts. Ultimately, facts will prevail,” Chidambaram said. He added that the average GDP growth during six years of NDA rule was 6% and it had presided over two of the worst economic growth years, 2000-01 (4.3%) and 2002-03 (4%).
Former finance minister Yashwant Sinha was quick to hit back, “Chidambaram is doing terrorism of facts. He is only comparing averages. This is only jugglery of figures.”
“Can Chidambaram explain why the growth rate today is 4.8 %?” He added that when the NDA came to power GDP growth was 4.8 % and when it relinquished office it was 8.6 %.
Continuing his attack, Sinha pointed out that while the NDA had created 60 million jobs in five years, the UPA had created just 2.7 million jobs in nine years. “The Congress has reasons to be scared of Modi.... The more they will target him the more it will help Modi.”
Modi had said a day earlier: “... When Atal ji was there, growth was 8.4 % and now it is 4.8 % under the UPA government... NDA gave jobs to the youth. Even employment number has been reduced under the UPA.”
BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad also sought to defend Modi. He said that the NDA came to power in difficult times: global sanctions after Pokhran II nuclear test, Kargil war etc., “Yet we lifted growth to 8.6 % by the time we left. Hasn’t the UPA brought it down to 4.8 % as it leaves?”
Prasad added that Chidambaram had not answered why manufacturing was low, infrastructure projects were lagging behind, the rupee had fallen and people weren’t investing in India under the UPA.