GDP debate takes 'violent turn' as Cong, BJP fight over growth

Express news service Posted online: Monday, Sep 23, 2013 at 0000 hrs
New Delhi : Fake encounters and terrorism got mixed up with GDP growth Monday as the Congress and BJP traded barbs over how the economy had fared under NDA and UPA.

The spat followed Sunday’s criticism by the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, that growth had fallen to 4.8 per cent under the UPA from 8.4 per cent under the NDA.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram sought to puncture Modi’s claim, pointing out that average annual growth during UPA 1 and 2 has been better than that under the NDA.

“The average for the six year period was 6.0 per cent and the average for the last five years was 5.9 per cent,” Chidambaram said in a statement, referring to the NDA’s rule from 1998 to 2004. “If there was a golden period of growth, it was the five year period under UPA 1.”

He said the average growth rate during UPA 1 was 8.4 per cent and it was 7.3 per cent for the first four years of UPA 2. “I wonder why Shri Narendra Modi should stage a fake encounter with facts,” Chidambaram added.

The BJP hit back with former finance minister Yashwant Sinha faulting Chidambaram for invoking average growth rates.

“Chidambaram is doing terrorism with facts. He is only comparing on averages. This is only jugglery of figures,” Sinha responded. “They are comparing nine years average with five years average of NDA. Can Chidambaram explain why the growth rate today is 4.8 per cent?” the BJP leader retorted, adding that when the BJP-led coalition left office, it was 8.6 per cent.

Ravi Shankar Prasad said Chidambaram had “profusely showered praise” on the NDA’s performance in the 2004-05 economic survey and was now being “economical with the truth”.