After his no-holds barred attack on the RBI Governor, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy on Wednesday picked on a new target -- demanding the removal of Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian. However, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley came out in strong defence of the noted economist while the BJP distanced itself from Swamy's remarks.
The Congress termed Swamy the 'undeclared spokesperson' of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and noted that Jaitley was the real target of Swamy as he wanted to be Finance Minister.
Swamy had publicly attacked RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan, saying he was "mentally not fully Indian" and also written to the Prime Minister demanding that he be denied an extension. Last week, Rajan announced that he was not taking a second term.
On Wednesday, Swamy created a flutter with his tweets demanding sacking of Subramanian.
"Who said to US Cong on 13/3/13 the US should act against India to defend US Pharmaceuticals interests? Arvind Subramanian MoF (Ministry of Finance)!! Sack him!"
"Guess who encouraged Congress to become rigid on GST clauses? Jaitley's economic adviser Arvind Subramanian of Washington DC."
He also wondered why the core economic sectors could not perform in the two years rule of the Narendra Modi government and said: "Now PTs (Patriotic Tweeples) can understand why our core economic sectors could not perform last two years. Trojan horses galore in MoF/ Finance Institutions."
"Was AS (Arvind Subramanian) deposing before US Congress Committee against India as a US citizen or Indian? Does any PT know?"
Subramanian had taken charge as chief economic advisor to finance ministry in October 2014 succeeding Raghuram Rajan.
Both the BJP and Jaitley sought to end any speculation over Swamy's fresh attack.
"The government has full confidence in Arvind Subramanian," Jaitley said answering a query at a media briefing.
"Arvind Subramanian's advice to the government from time to time has been of great value. In fact, the presentation made on textile and garment sector is also prepared in active consultation with him," Jaitley said.
Jaitley went a step further and asked if politicians should attack officials who cannot respond to allegations.
"The party has said it doesn't share Swamy's view. I will also add one more fact from the point of view of discipline of Indian politicians... to what extent should we attack those, the discipline and constraint of whose offices prevent them from responding and this has happened more than once," he said.
Asked why the government did not defend the RBI governor when Swamy attacked him, Jaitley said: "The party (BJP) had distanced itself from the remark at that time as well."
Jaitley, in response to another question, said it was for the BJP to decide if there should be any action against Swamy.
BJP national secretary Shrikant Sharma said the party does not agree with Swamy.
"It is his personal opinion and BJP doesn't have anything to do with this. We don't agree with it," Sharma said.
Congress spokesperson P.L. Punia questioned Modi's silence over Swamy's remarks.
"A nominated member of Rajya Sabha with BJP's backing has launched a scathing attack on the Chief Economic Advisor of the Prime Minister, Arvind Subramanian and has described him as an agent of US Pharma companies. But the Prime Minister has not uttered a word on this issue," he said.
"Swamy has always attacked the political opponents and adversaries of the Prime Minister and Modi who has been speaking at length on various issues has never spoken on Swamy's statements. This shows that Subramanian Swamy is an unofficial spokesperson of Prime Minister Modi," Punia said, asserting that Swamy's attacks on people have suited Modi.
"Swamy is doing all this because he wants to be the country's Finance Minister," Punia said insisting that the primary target of Swamy's attack is Jaitley.
Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, in a tweet, also said that Swamy's target was Jaitley.
"Subramanian Swamy now guns for Arvind Subramanian Economic Advisor to NDA. Target is Arun Jaitley not Arvind Subramanian," Singh tweeted.
"Is Modi handing over Finance Ministry to Subramanian Swamy," he asked.