He is "hiding in the law of average" to conceal UPA regime’s weakness, says Ravi Shankar Prasad

A day after Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi claimed that the economic growth was lower under the UPA government than the NDA regime, Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and the BJP were locked in a war of words on Monday.

Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ravi Shankar Prasad said Mr. Chidambaram’s statement, made earlier in the day, “is not only factually incorrect” but it was also “economical with truth.”

At a press conference here, he termed Mr. Chidambaram’s statement a “case of resorting to fake encounters with facts,” a phrase the Minister used while he sought to disprove Mr. Modi’s claim.

Objecting to Mr. Chidambaram’s use of the phrase, ‘fake encounter,’ Mr. Prasad said the expression, on the contrary, applied to Mr. Chidambaram. He quoted the Economic Survey of 2004-2005, according to which the growth was 8.5 per cent in 2003-04, the highest ever, except in 1975-76 and 1988-89.

Mr. Prasad said the Finance Minister was “hiding in the law of average” to conceal the UPA regime’s weakness. He asked Mr. Chidambaram to explain how the growth fell from 8.5 per cent during the NDA rule to 4.8 per cent during the UPA regime.

Describing the growth when the NDA was in power as “exemplary,” Mr. Prasad said it was achieved under difficult circumstances and in an unfavourable global atmosphere. “India faced international sanctions in the wake of the Pokhran-II nuclear tests; there was the Kargil war; the East Asian economic crisis in 1999-2000; the earthquake in Gujarat; and the drought in 2001-02.”

Citing the Economic Survey of 2004-05, a period when the UPA came to power, Mr. Prasad said that while the Survey had profusely praised the NDA government’s outstanding performance, Mr. Chidambaram was trying to downplay it.

The former Union Finance Minister and senior BJP leader, Yashwant Sinha, accused Mr. Chidambaram of indulging in “statistical jugglery.” The UPA government could not compete with the NDA regime on a year-to-year basis, so it was taking out averages. “They are comparing the nine years’ average with the five years’ average of the NDA.”

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