Challenges the claims made by the prime-ministerial candidate on the value of the rupee during NDA rule

Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Wednesday issued a statement challenging the BJP prime-ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s statement on the value of the rupee during former Prime Minister A. B. Vajpayee’s tenure.

Mr. Chidambaram’s statement said: “We can add another item to our collection of items under the chapter ‘History Lessons from Shri Narendra Modi.’”

On Monday, according to reports, Mr. Modi said in his address at an election rally in Khetri in Rajasthan that “Atalji didn’t let the value of the rupee fall, despite sanctions.”

The Gujarat Chief Minister said: “Atalji conducted nuclear tests. He did not bother about sanctions and conducted another nuclear test two days later... Despite all this, he did not let the value of the rupee fall. But see what is happening today under an economist-Prime Minister.”

The nuclear tests referred to by Mr. Modi in his election address were conducted by the Vajpayee-led government on May 11 and May 13, 1998.

Mr. Chidambaram’s statement said: “Newspaper reports gave the exchange rate of the rupee in March 1998 when the NDA had first formed the government as Rs 39.49 to the dollar. It declined to Rs 42.84 in May 1999, when the NDA again formed the government after the elections, and to Rs 45.33 on May 21 in 2004 when the NDA demitted office.”

On October 19, while delivering the Nani Palkhiwala memorial lecture in Chennai, Mr. Modi was reported to have said, “Today our rupee is in the ICU; I don’t know why Tamil people sent this person [Mr. Chidambaram] to Delhi.”

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