- Piyush Goyal said Abhijit Banerjee's thinking is "totally Left-leaning"
- Mr Banerjee had recently said that Indian economy is in a state of crisis
- "I am not partisan in my economic thinking," the Nobel winner told NDTV
Indian-American Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee, who was called "totally Left-leaning" by union minister Piyush Goyal, on Saturday told NDTV that the commerce minister is "questioning my professionalism."
Piyush Goyal, addressing a press conference on Friday, had said, "Abhijit Banerjee won the Nobel prize, I congratulate him. But you all know what his understanding is. His thinking is totally Left-leaning. He had praised the NYAY scheme effusively, but the people of India totally rejected his thinking."
Mr Banerjee had assisted the Congress party in formulating the NYAY or or Nyuntam Aay Yojana scheme which promised to give Rs 72,000 annually to each of the 20 per cent families in the poorest of the poor category. NYAY headlined the Congress manifesto for the national election earlier this year. The party crashed in the polls.
Speaking to NDTV in Delhi, Mr Banerjee said, "If the BJP government, like the Congress party, had asked what were the numbers on the fraction of people under a particular income, would I have not told them the truth? I would have told them exactly, I would have been as willing. In terms of being a professional, I want to be professional with everyone."
"I am not partisan in my economic thinking," he went on to say.
"We work with any number of state governments, many of which are BJP governments. We worked with the Gujarat pollution board when Gujarat was under Mr (Narendra) Modi and we actually had an excellent experience. I would say that they were willing to engage with the evidence and they implemented policies that followed with that experience," he added.
Mr Banerjee, who has been a strong and vocal critic of the BJP-led government's economic policies, had recently remarked that the Indian economy is in a state of crisis.
He said he stood by his analysis, pointing to the decline in consumption. "You have to take it seriously that the economy is in crisis. If you look at that one number that jumps out at me from the analysis of the NSS (National Sample Survey) data, it is the average consumption in India. We are slightly lower today than it was in 2014-15. That's the unprecedented event," he said.
This year's Nobel Prize in Economics was awarded to Abhijit Banerjee, his French-American wife Esther Duflo and Harvard University professor Michael Kremer.