New Delhi, October 20: Tagged as a "left-leaning" economist by Union Minister Piyush Goyal, Nobel Laureate Abhijit Banerjee struck back saying his views were once shared by the incumbent Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman. While speaking to a news channel, the Nobel Prize 2019 winner for Economic Sciences said Sitharaman was once his contemporary in the Jawaharlal Nehru University. Anantkumar Hegde Stokes Row, Says Nobel Laureate Abhijit Banerjee Wanted to Raise Taxes in India Via 'Pappu'.

Banerjee's remarks came while responding to the criticism he has met from Goyal over his JNU background. The Indian-American economic researcher said Sitharaman mostly agreed with his views in the varsity days, and they have never had disagreements. He further added that his endorsement of Congress' NYAY or minimum income guarantee scheme was a pragmatic decision and not driven by any political ideology.

"One of the people I knew well and we were on similar sides of certain issues was Nirmala Sitharaman. She was my contemporary in JNU...I wouldn't say we were close friends, but we were friends and it is not that we had deep disagreements," Banerjee said while speaking to NDTV.

Banerjee, who was wished by several BJP leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi after winning the Nobel this year, drew criticism from Goyal after he condemned the handling of Indian economy by the ruling dispensation.

While addressing the gathering in Stockholm, where he was accorded the honour by the Swedish Academy, Banerjee said India is facing an unprecedented crisis with demand, as consumption has fallen to pre 2014-15-levels.

Banerjee also red-flagged the alleged attempt made by the ruling dispensation to reduce the authenticity of data, stating that the basis of policy-making should not be tampered with.

His criticism prompted Goyal, the Minister of Railways, to point that India had recently approved the Modi government's policies by awarding the BJP a resounding mandate. "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," he said.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Oct 20, 2019 08:31 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website