Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday sharply criticised Congress leader Manmohan Singh hours after he said that the Modi government cannot shirk its responsibility for “mismanaging” the country by blaming the country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru for every problem, PTI reported.

“I have great regards for you [Singh],” Sitharaman said. “I did not expect this from you. And I am hurt.”

Singh, the former prime minister, in a video message days before the Punjab Assembly elections, castigated the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government on a host of matters such as India’s foreign policy, farmers’ protests, unemployment and rising inflation. He accused the BJP of following a “fake nationalism”, based on the policy of divide and rule adopted by the British.

Sitharaman on Thursday questioned if Singh suddenly spoke about the Indian economy because of the February 20 polls in Punjab.

“A prime minister who is remembered more for having made India into a Fragile Five economy...India that is being remembered for that notorious status...the PM who could not control inflation for 22 months continuously...the PM who saw capital fly away from this county.. our foreign exchange reserve was about $275 billion seven years ago and now it is $630 billion...is suddenly paying attention to economy?” the finance minister asked, according to the Hindustan Times.

Sitharaman also claimed that Singh was better known as the prime minister under whose term inflation remained in double digits for 22 months consecutively. Those criticising the current dispensation for price rise are spreading confusion, she claimed.

India’s retail inflation for the month of January rose to 6.01%, breaching the upper margin of the limit of the price rise indicator as set by the Reserve Bank of India. Another set of data from the government also showed that wholesale inflation stayed in the double digits in January for the 10th month in a row. Wholesale prices in January rose 12.96% from a year earlier, less than the previous month’s 13.56%.

Despite this, Sitharaman claimed that the BJP government took immediate measures to control costs of essential commodities. “Can just electoral considerations make a learned PM of this country, who is also an economist speak ill about India, which is now in spite of the pandemic the fastest growing economy?” the finance minister asked.

On Thursday, Sitharaman also referred to an order by the Securities and Exchange stating that former National Stock Exchange Chief Executive Officer Chitra Ramakrishna made crucial decisions by consulting and sending confidential information to an unknown Himalayan ascetic. Ramkrishna was the chief executive officer and managing director of the exchange group from April 2013 to December 2016.

“You are commenting in the context of Punjab elections, but NSE is enough to say, you paid no attention [to the economy],” the finance minister told Singh. “It is your scandal, you should comment on it too.”

Sitharaman also criticised the methodology of report by non-profit group Oxfam, which had stated that more than 4.6 crore Indians were estimated to have fallen into extreme poverty in 2020 alone. “The formula that they used is wrong,” she alleged. “It should be on grounds that are truly substantial.”