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PM Modi Won as Voters Felt No Other Leader Was Worth Electing, Says Abhijit Banerjee; Picks Holes in NYAY Scheme

On criticism of NYAY, the Congress' Nyutam Aay Yojana scheme on which he advised Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Abhijeet Banerjee admitted that the programme was not 'particularly well-designed'.

Marya Shakil | CNN-News18maryashakil

Updated:October 20, 2019, 12:33 PM IST
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PM Modi Won as Voters Felt No Other Leader Was Worth Electing, Says Abhijit Banerjee; Picks Holes in NYAY Scheme
Abhijit Banerjee, one of the three winners of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economics, at a news conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, U.S, October 14, 2019. (Reuters photo)

New Delhi: Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee on Saturday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi is “genuinely popular” and people supported him as they decided no other opposition leader was worth voting for.

Speaking to CNN-News18, Banerjee — who won the award with two others for experimental approach to alleviating global poverty — said voters endorsed PM Modi as a “whole package”.

However, he added that electoral victory must not be seen as an endorsement of government’s policies. Responding to a question on Union minister Piysh Goyal’s criticism that he was a “Left-leaning” professor whose idea [NYAY scheme] was rejected in elections, Banerjee said people had voted for Modi but not every decision that he took.

“I think any government does 100 things and people have to vote on all of them. They have mostly voted for Modi, who I think is genuinely popular and they decided no other opposition leader is worth voting for. I am totally willing to give him that. I don’t think that means every single decision they have taken was voted for.... People didn’t have a choice between ‘I’m going to vote for Modi for this scheme and not for that’. Given that choice, they would have made different choices on different issues. They had one choice — Modi or not,” he said.

On criticism of NYAY, the Congress' Nyunatam Aay Yojana on which he advised Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Banerjee admitted that the programme was not “particularly well-designed”.

“NYAY was not particularly well designed. I don’t take responsibility for it as nobody asked me whether that’s how it should be designed. So I don’t think it’s a question of whether the time for the scheme had come or not. I think it was an idea, which even if politically supported, may not have been the best design scheme. Maybe if the UPA had won later, they would have to adjust the scheme because there would be political pressure or economic pressure to change it. My role in all of that was not to design the scheme but to provide information that you could use to make choices,” Banerjee said.

Speaking about the Congress, Banerjee also stressed on need for a stronger Opposition in the country. “Right now, India definitely needs a stronger opposition. This will be good for democracy. I think right now I feel people don’t think Congress is ready to take that burden. It doesn’t have a present right now. Whoever is the president, they need to make that person powerful and give him the right to run the party the way they want.”

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