Photograph: Kamal Singh/PTI Photo
Union minister Piyush Goyal on Friday dubbed Nobel laureate economist Abhijit Banerjee as ‘Left-leaning’, and said as his suggestion of basic income scheme was rejected by Indian voters, there was no need to ‘accept what he thinks’.
Indian-American Banerjee, who has been critical of the Narendra Modi government’s economic policies, won the 2919 Nobel for economics.
He had endorsed Nyay, the minimum basic income scheme promised by the Congress during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
“I congratulate Abhijit Banerjee for winning the Nobel prize. You all know that his thinking is totally Left-leaning,” Goyal said at a media briefing in Pune.
“Banerjee supported ‘Nyay’ and people of India rejected his ideology,” Goyal said.
He added that it was a matter of pride that an Indian won the Nobel prize.
“But it is not necessary to agree with what he says and especially when the people of this country rejected his suggestion, there is no need to accept what he thinks,” the Union minister said.
Asked whether he thought Banerjee’s views on the state of Indian Economy were biased, Goyal said the reporter should pose this question to Banerjee himself.
Banerjee had recently said that Indian economy was on shaky ground, adding the data currently available does not hold any assurance for economic revival anytime soon.
Asked about Reserve Bank’s Rs 1.76 lakh crore surplus transfer to the Central government, Goyal said that it was not the government which took the money.
“It was a committee, presided by former RBI governor Bimal Jalan, and other members who took the decision on the surplus money with RBI. It is neither the government had to take it nor did the government take it,” he said.
Goyal added that they also know a little bit about the economy.
“As on today, RBI has Rs 10 to 11 lakh crore reserve. I have studied it in detail,” he said, adding there is no purpose to have such a high reserves.
Looking at the size of the balance sheet of RBI, it has disproportionately high reserves and there is little possibility that it will utilise this kind of high reserves in
the lifetime, he said.
“The reserves are so high that even if the rupee value comes down to Rs 50 from Rs 71 against dollar, it will not affect the Indian economy,” he said.
He added that everyone knows what is the possibility of the value of the dollar going down to Rs 50.
“So it is baseless to say that the government took the reserves. The committee decided on a small portion from the excess reserve of RBI,” he added.
The Union minister said he personally thought that the committee could have decided to transfer more.
“I would like to inform you that the major chunk of Rs 1.76 lakh crore is the profit from this year and the amount which makes the reserve is a very small amount,” he said.
On former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s claim that Maharashtra’s economy was going backward, Goyal said Singh, an acclaimed economist, does not realise in what ‘hopeless condition’ his government had left India in 2014 and how in the last five years the situation was transformed in Maharashtra and rest of the country.
“During his regime, big scams such as telecom, coal scam took place. He was coal minister and minister of state was working under him. I was also coal minister and I was surprised that how such files were approved, how the coal blocks were allotted and how the basic tenets of transparency were compromised by him,” he said.
Naming Commonwealth Games scam, Adarsh housing scam and the irrigation scam in Maharashtra, Goyal said Singh’s only answer to them was they were ‘compulsions of coalition politics’.
It was a matter of shame that a prime minister talked about ‘compulsion of coalition politics’ rather than ‘national interest’ to save his government, the Bharatiya Janata Party leader said.
Goyal, who is Railway Minister, also ruled out the privatisation of the Indian Railways. “Indian railway is the country’s asset and it will remain India’s asset,” he said.
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