RESPONDING TO the letter seeking an explanation for his criticism of the proposed Nyunatam Aay Yojana (NYAY), NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman (VC) Rajiv Kumar told the Election Commission (EC) on Tuesday that he spoke in his personal capacity as an economist and his comments should not be interpreted as Aayog’s stand on the Congress announcement.
Kumar, in his defence, is learnt to have also cited the example of Montek Singh Ahluwalia, who, as deputy chairman of the Planning Commission (later recast as NITI Aayog under NDA-II government), had commented on the ‘Gujarat Model’ in April 2014 while the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) was in force for Lok Sabha polls.
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The NITI Aayog VC had dismissed Congress’s promise of a minimum income of Rs 6000 to the poorest 20 per cent households saying the party can “say and do anything to win elections”.
“I think the fiscal deficit may increase from 3.5 per cent to
6 per cent. All the credit rating agencies may bring down our ratings. We may not get loans from outside and eventually, our investments might be blocked,” Kumar had told ANI.
The MCC forbids the use of official machinery and personnel for furthering the interest of the party in power during election season. Since Kumar is a public servant, the Commission had asked him to explain his criticism of Congress’ announcement on minimum basic income guarantee as a poll promise. He was given time till March 29 to respond. The deadline, on his request, was extended to April 2.
Speaking to The Indian Express on Tuesday, Kumar confirmed that he had submitted his response to EC, but did not wish to discuss the reply.