New Delhi: Despite the jubilant praise and appreciation that has been flowing in for Abhijit Banerjee since his Nobel Prize win for Economics, Union Minister Piyush Goyal hit out at the economist and said the Indian public has rejected his thinking.
The former finance minister was referring to Banerjee's critical remarks on the dire state of the economy. On the day he was conferred with the prestigious award for his work in fighting global poverty, Banerjee said "the Indian government is on shaky ground and that policies are evaluated based on accepted criteria and looked at as an option".
"I congratulate Abhijit Banerjee for winning the Nobel Prize. But, you all know about his thinking. It is left-leaning. He had sung praises for NYAY (Congress's minimum income scheme manifesto promise). The people of India have rejected this thinking," Goyal said at an event in Pune.
Goyal is among a number of BJP leaders who have criticised the Nobel Prize awardee. BJP MP Anantkumar Hegde had also sardonically described Banerjee as the "man who recommended inflation and tax rates to be raised" in the country.
The Congress termed Goyal's comments as "arrogant".
"So electoral victory makes Nobel experts wrong, maybe ignorant; Nyay bad because BJP returned to power. Amazing inverse logic and huge arrogance," said party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi in a tweet.
Parties in West Bengal cutting across political lines unequivocally criticised Goyal's remarks and said it reflects the "narrow" mindset of BJP and the saffron camp.
"The statement by BJP leaders against Abhijit Banerjee, who has not made Bengal but the entire country proud, is a reflection of the narrow mindset of BJP and the saffron camp. The lesser they (BJP) speak on Abhijit Banerjee, the better. It only reflects the mean mindedness of BJP," a senior TMC leader said.
Senior CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty said nothing more should be expected from a party like BJP that believes in selling off Public Sector Units (PSUs) and the privatisation of Railways and BSNL.
"It is quite natural that BJP and leaders like Piyush Goyal won't like Abhijit Banerjee and will try to demean him. Because the BJP believes in privatisation of PSUs, BSNL, Railways, which is a complete antithesis to what Abhijit Banerjee has been saying. We can only request BJP leaders to refrain from making comments on the pride of India," Chakraborty said.
Senior Congress leader and MP Pradip Bhattacharya criticising Goyal said a Nobel laureate supporting Congress's NYAY scheme reflects that the party was right in taking it up before the Lok Sabha polls.
"Does Abhijit Banerjee supporting the NYAY scheme take away the laurel he has brought to the country by winning the Nobel prize in economics? Such comments only reflect the educational standard of BJP leaders. Abhijit Banerjee supporting NYAY scheme reflects that the Congress was completely right in taking up the scheme for helping the poorest of the poor of the country," Bhattacharya said.
Banerjee, an Indian-American, jointly won the Nobel prize in economics along with Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer for the "experimental approach to alleviating global poverty". Duflo, a French-American, is Banerjee's wife.
Banerjee was one of those who had conceptualized Congress's NYAY scheme ahead of Lok Sabha polls 2019.