Debate: The growth debate - 1

September 23, 2013

A political slugfest broke out on Monday (September 23) between BJP and Congress after Finance Minister P Chidambaram hit out at Narendra Modi accusing him of "staging a fake encounter with facts", drawing a sharp response from the opposition party. In a no-holds bar attack, Chidambaram rebuffed the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate's claim of pegging economic growth rate during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government at 8.4 per cent. "Nothing can be further from the truth... I wonder why Shri Narendra Modi should stage a fake encounter with facts. Ultimately, facts will prevail," the Finance Minister said. BJP quickly came out all guns blazing against Chidambaram with senior leader Yashwant Sinha accusing the Finance Minister of indulging in "statistical jugglery" about growth figures and "terrorism with facts" by making unfair comparisons of the UPA's nine years of rule with the NDA government's achievements in five years.
Jumping to the defence of the Finance Minister, Congress spokesperson P C Chacko said BJP was up to its "favourite pastime of mixing facts with fiction" and wondered why Sinha, a former Finance Minister, instead of admonishing Modi for "parading half truths and untruths" was authenticating them. The war of words between the two parties erupted a day after Modi in a televised addresss to Indian diaspora in the US asked Indian voters to hold UPA accountable for nine years of "mis-governance" and to throw out the Congress in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls as they did after the Emergency in 1977. Rolling out figures in a one-page statement, Chidambaram said, "The average for the six year period (under Vajpayee government from 1998-99 to 2003-04) was 6.0 per cent and the average for the last five years (1999-2000 to 2003-04) was 5.9 per cent."
In a debate moderated by TIMES NOW's Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami, panelists -- Salman Soz, Leader, Congress; Nirmala Sitharaman, National Spokesperson, BJP; Lord Meghnad Desai, Economist and Vinod Mehta, Editorial Chairman, Outlook -- discuss whether, will Congress succeed in taking on Modi on the development plank?