Dr Subramanian Swamy is a master of irony. In the early 1970's, the young Harvard-educated Swamy was dismissed by the then prime minister Indira Gandhi as a “Santa Claus with unrealistic ideas”. As a Jan Sangh member of the Rajya Sabha, he had fiercely advocated an open economy criticising Indira Gandhi’s government-controlled socialist form of governance. He was even accused of promoting American capitalist interests in India.
Much water has flown under the River Yamuna since the 1970s. The same Swamy is now describing US-educated Indian financial experts as American stooges sent to destroy Indian economy. First training his guns on Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan, he said the former IMF chief economist was not 'fully-mentally Indian'. Swamy made several such attacks on Rajan, who last week informed the RBI that he was not seeking a second term.
After taking care of Rajan, Swamy has now trained his guns on Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian, another US-educated economist. In his tweets, the senior BJP leader attacked Subramanian, demanding his removal. He said, “Subramanian used to work for the US. He must be having a Green card. He told the US Congress that US should act against India to defend the US pharmaceuticals' interests”.
Reacting to Swamy’s comments on Subramanian, Congress leader Digvijaya Singh said he was eyeing the Finance Minister’s chair and making such statements to realise his dream. However, Swamy defended his remarks saying that he was speaking in the interests of the nation.
In the last six months, maverick mathematician Swamy has embarrassed his own party's government by openly attacking Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar and Lieutenant Governor of Delhi Najeeb Jung.
After the bungling in the Supreme Court over the government's stand on bringing back the Kohinoor Diamond, Swamy tweeted that both the Attorney General and Solicitor General should be removed from their posts. A few days later he pounced on Najeeb Jung calling him a Congress stooge.
A few years ago, Wikileaks tweeted that Swamy was giving political intelligence on Indira Gandhi’s election strategy to the US. When the Congress made it a big issue, Swamy hit back demanding an apology. Finally, Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha said sorry for calling Swamy a CIA agent. A victorious Swamy confirmed this on Twitter and wrote, "My legal eagles Supriya Manan, Ishkaran Bhandari and my wife Dr. Roxna Swamy inform me that Sanjay Jha has sent an email letter."
Swamy, who completed his PhD in Economics at 24 from Harvard University was a vocal votary of free markets during the licence permit system that exited in the country till the 1990s. He published a “Swadeshi Plan” as an alternative to the Five Year Plan. He advocated a market economy with self-reliance for India, "in which full employment, minimum sustaining consumption, and defence expenditure of the nation be integrated with development planning to generate a 10 percent growth rate."
Since the 1970s, he has also been demanding that India should have a close strategic relationship with USA, Israel and China.
The videshi-educated lone ranger Swamy has now transformed himself into one of the most vocal supporters of “Swadeshi”. The BJP which has appointed him to the Rajya Sabha after dillydallying for years knows that it has to live with him. Because Swamy is a reality in Indian politics, with few friends and a lot of foes.