When BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi hailed the ‘golden era’ of Vajpayee-led NDA government from 1998-2004 and slammed the Congress for a low GDP growth rate while addressing the NRIs in the USA, there was obvious reason for the Congress to hit back. And, none other than Finance Minister P Chidambaram led the assault.
“When Vajpayee government was there, the growth rate was 8.4 per cent, but now it is 4.8 per cent under the UPA government. The Congress must answer,” said Modi. Citing example of 1977 polls, he expressed confidence that 2014 polls would reflect the voice of people in India.
Chidambaram slammed Modi, saying the latter was staging a “fake encounter” with the facts. Chidambaram gave another picture to draw comparison between the NDA and UPA. “The average GDP growth rate during the six-year-old NDA rule was 6.0%, but the average in the UPA I was 8.4% and during the four years of UPA II, the growth rate was 7.3%. India witnessed the worst growth rates of 4.3 % and 4 % in 2000-01 and 2002-03 when NDA was in power. If there was a golden period of growth, it was the five years period under UPA I,” he said.
BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad used every possible strong words to shout Chidambaram down when he addressed a press meet to counter his claims. Mr. Prasad focused on two simple things – “When we left power in 2004, we gave the nation a growth rate of 8.5%. And, today after 9 years, the growth rate stands at 4.4%. It answers all questions. Rather than calculating the average, Mr. Chidambaram should set his focus on the declining economy today and find ways to recover from this crisis,” he said.
The BJP also asked Chidambaram to explain the declining economy, falling Rupee, negative growth in manufacturing etc. instead of fighting Narendra Modi. Mr. Prasad also quoted the statement by Chidambaram in the Economic Survey 2004-05 when he hailed the high growth rate given by his predecessors and said the UPA I made a bumper harvest on the good work of BJP-led NDA government.