Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday labelled Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee Left-leaning, and claimed that India had rejected his views, ANI reported.

Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer won the 2019 Nobel Prize in economics earlier this week “for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.” The Indian-American economist had also helped conceptualise the Congress’ minimum income guarantee scheme called NYAY (Nyuntam Aay Yojana).

“I congratulate Abhijit Banerjee, who has won the Nobel Prize,” Goyal said at an event in Pune. He was responding to a query on Banerjee’s criticism of the state of the Indian economy. “But you know about his thinking, it is totally Left-leaning. He had supported NYAY scheme and sang praises about it. But the people of India totally rejected his thinking.”

Goyal said he was proud that “an Indian” won the Nobel Prize. “But it is not necessary that we agree with his thinking,” the minister added. “Especially, when the people rejected his views, there is no need for us to accept them.”

Banerjee was among a group of economists and social scientists who, in March, urged the Narendra Modi government to restore the integrity of statistical organisations, saying their national and global reputation was “at stake”. In a statement, the group of 108 people had said it was time for “all professional economists, statisticians, [and] independent researchers in policy” to come together to “raise their voice against the tendency to suppress uncomfortable data”. Duflo was also among the signatories.

Immediately after winning the prestigious prize, Banerjee said the slowdown in economic growth in India was a big concern, and added that the crisis in the real estate sector was one of the reasons for the slowdown. “When construction goes down and brick kilns go down, the transmission of urban growth to rural areas just stops,” he told CNBC-TV18.

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