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P Chidambaram calls revision of GDP data 'bad joke'; Congress' Anand Sharma says NITI Aayog has done disservice to India

New Delhi: Slamming the revision of GDP data under the UPA as a "bad joke", the Congress on Thursday alleged that the NITI Aayog has done disservice to the nation with its "hatchet job" at the behest of the Narendra Modi government and demanded that the body be disbanded.

The Opposition party also hit out at Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for defending the exercise, which it termed as a "brazen assault on the very sanctity of Indian statistics".

"NITI Aayog's revised GDP numbers are a joke. They are a bad joke. Actually they are worse than a bad joke. The numbers are the result of a hatchet job. Now that NITI Aayog has done the hatchet job, it is time to wind up the utterly worthless body," Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram said.

Senior party leader and former Union minister Anand Sharma also lashed out at the planning body saying, "by fudging the GDP data to massage the ego of Modi and hide the miserable performance and mismanagement of the Indian economy, the Ministry of Statistics and NITI Aayog have done a disservice to the nation."

 P Chidambaram calls revision of GDP data bad joke; Congress Anand Sharma says NITI Aayog has done disservice to India

File image of Congress leader P Chidambaram. AFP

He said the integrity of Indian data has become suspect internationally and in one blow the credibility of Indian statistical institutions and experts who prepared the earlier GDP data has been severely damaged.

"Pathetic to see the Finance Minister defending the brazen assault on the very sanctity of Indian statistics" Sharma said.

Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said "the venerable Central Statistics Organisation (CSO) has now been converted into a NAMO (Numbers Adjustment and Manipulation Organisation)", adding "Mahalanobis must be fuming"

He was referring to PC Mahalanobis, revered as the father of Indian statistical research.

Chidambaram said that the earlier numbers were calculated by the National Statistical Commission and asked whether the Commission has been disbanded.

Agreeing to former Chief Statistician Pranab Sen, he said NITI Aayog has nothing to do with tabulation of data.

"I wonder if NITI Aayog vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar will agree to a debate on the data than telling journalists that their questions are 'undeserving of an answer'," said Chidambaram.

Former minister Kapil Sibal tweeted:

Jaitley on Thursday defended the revision in India's GDP growth rate during the previous UPA era, saying it was done by a "highly credible" organisation, the Central Statistics Office, which maintains an arm's length distance from the finance ministry.

He said the revised numbers, based on a new formula with 2011-12 as the base year, are globally more comparable as they take into account a far greater representation of the Indian economy and are more reflective of its real state.

Taking on opposition Congress for criticising the revision, he said the Congress had welcomed the upwards revision in growth numbers of the last two years of the UPA regime by the same CSO and had gone to the extent of saying that the "the new GDP series has conclusively established that we did not mismanage the economy".

Later in a blog post, Jaitley said the revised economic growth data has taken away Congress party's last surviving argument "my GDP growth was higher than yours".

The new numbers show India's economic growth rate averaged 6.7 per cent during the Congress-led UPA regime as compared to 7.3 per cent under the present government. Previous numbers had put the average growth rate during the 10-year UPA rule at 7.75 percent.

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Updated Date: Nov 29, 2018 20:57:15 IST

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