Modi staging 'fake encounter' with facts: Chidambaram

New Delhi, Sep 23 (IANS) Finance Minister P. Chidambaram Monday said Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the prime ministerial candidate of main opposition BJP, is staging a "fake encounter with facts" while claiming 8.4 percent growth during Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led central government between 1998 and 2004.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) retorted by saying Chidambaram was "hiding behind the law of averages".

"Narendra Modi is reported to have said that the growth rate during the period of the Vajpayee government was 8.4 percent. Nothing can be further from the truth," Chidambaram said in a statement.

Modi, addressing NRI supporters via video conference Sunday, had said that the growth rate was 8.4 percent during the BJP government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee but it came down to 4.8 per cent during the UPA's rule.

The finance minister's statement came in response to Modi's reported claim of 8.4 percent economic growth during Vajpayee government.

Modi had made the claim while addressing the annual national convention of Overseas Friends of BJP in Florida, US.

Chidambaram said the average growth rate during the six-year tenure of Vajpayee government was 6 percent.

"By contrast, the average for UPA-I was 8.4 percent... the first four years of UPA-II, the average has been 7.3 percent," he said.

The first five-year term of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) ended in 2009. UPA-II was formed in 2009 and its term expires next year.

"I wonder why Narendra Modi should stage a fake encounter with facts. Ultimately, facts will prevail," Chidambaram said.

The BJP said Chidambaram's statement was factually incorrect.

"Chidamabaram is hiding under the law of averages. When the NDA left power, India's growth rate was 8.4 percent. Now under the UPA the GDP growth rate has fallen to 4.8 percent," BJP leader Ravishankar Prasad said.

"Yet the finance minister keeps quoting average growth rate to hide India's faltering growth story. Did P. Chidambaram lie to parliament while presenting the Economic Survey? His factual inaccuracies are despicable," he said.

"The manufacturing sector has contracted by 5 percent. The infrastructure sector has been besotted with scams in national highways and the telecom sector. Power generation in India is suffering. When Indians are not investing in India then how does one expect foreign investors to invest in the country? India's credibility has suffered immensely and there is a big trust deficit in this government," he added.

Chidambaram earlier also listed the break-up of yearly growth during the Vajyapee government as follows: In the financial year 1998-99, the gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 6.7 percent. Growth accelerated to 7.6 percent in 1999-2000. It slumped to 4.3 percent in 2000-01. For 2001-02, it was 5.5 percent; for 2002-03 it was 4 percent and in 2003-04 it rose to 8.1 percent.

"The two worst years since the turn of the century were 2000-01 (4.3 percent) and 2002-03 (4 percent)... there was a golden period of growth, it was the five-year period under UPA-I," Chidambaram said.

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