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 Modi Government and demanded that the body be disbanded.
"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 Prime Minister 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."
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 P C Mahalanobis, revered as the father of Indian statistical research.
Agreeing to former Chief Statistician Pranab Sen, he said Niti Aayog has nothing to do with tabulation of data.
"New data: Growth faster under NDA than UPA. True growth in: jumlas, manipulating (CSO , NSSO's data), falsifying outcomes (eg on paper 'electrified' villages in reality 'darkness'), lies (eg October 29, 2017 Modi said Government launched DBT, scheme launched in 2013 under UPA)," tweeted former minister Kapil Sibal.
Finance Minister Arun 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 per cent.
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