New Delhi: Countering Rahul Gandhi's broadside on Prime Minister on inflation, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said any form of "bluster" is not a substitute for statistics as he reeled out numbers to assert that the government has brought down prices substantially.
After Congress vice president attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing him of failing to control prices of essential commodities like pulses and tomato, he contended that the NDA government had in 2014 inherited from UPA a double-digit inflation which has been brought substantially down and it will further reduce with good monsoon.
"Any form of bluster is not substitute of statistics," he said intervening in a debate in Lok Sabha on price rise and asked Gandhi to compare the inflation rate during the UPA government and that prevailing now.
Jaitley defended mopping up gains from slump in international oil prices by raising excise duty on petrol and diesel saying additional resources were needed to spur public investment in a weak global economy especially when private spending was lackluster and banks were unable to finance infra projects.
The NDA, he said, inherited policy paralysis from UPA and commentators often said 'I' in the BRICS nations will fallout. From that point, the BJP-led government has turned around the economy, he said.
Stating that India has potential to achieve higher growth rates, he said additional resources raised has helped the country become fastest growing economy in the world and back of the envelop calculations being done by Congress can be misleading.
Rebutting Gandhi's 'Arhar Modi, Arhar Modi' jibe over rise in prices of pulses, the Finance Minister said, "everybody in this house seems to be claiming to be going to the market everyday."
The Congress leader in his speech cited prices collected from market to counter Modi's pre-polls slogan of bringing down inflation if voted to power.
"This is a topic of statistics and not sloganeering... When UPA left government, the economy was in a critical state and it is but natural for any contesting candidate to say that after getting elected he would try to bring down inflation. No one should have any objection to that," he said.
Stating that last two years of UPA government had double digit price rise, Jaitley said consumer price inflation (CPI) was 10.2 percent in 2012-13 and 9.5 percent in 2013-14.
This has been brought down to 5.77 percent in June.
Insisting that inflation has been kept under control since NDA assumed office, the Finance Minister said he expects the rate of price increase will further reduce with a "good" monsoon.
"You are talking about a government which left behind double digit inflation and today we have a situation where steps have been taken in each sector to contain inflation. Any form of bluster is not a substitute for statistics. These are backed by hard facts," he said.
Attributing spurt in prices of pulses to mismatch between demand and supply, the Minister asked Gandhi not to attach corruption as the motive behind the difference between the rate a farmer gets and the retail selling price.
"The new economic equation you gave that a rise in minimum support price should result in lower retail prices, otherwise it is corruption. This I have heard for the first time. Price are determined on account of demand and supply," he said.
Jaitley said the monthly statistics shows the pulses inflation is coming down and asked Rahul Gandhi not to look for corruption angle in the rise of prices of pulses, which he said occurred due to rise in costs globally besides two consecutive years of drought.
"Even today the corruption scandals that emerge are those of UPAs and not NDA... We have contained inflation despite having two years of drought. Good monsoon helps economy and with good monsoon this year, I expect that the prices of will come down," Jaitley said.
The NDA government has brought down inflation and for 18 straight months, the country has witnessed negative WPI inflation, he said.