Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee Tuesday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi joked about how the media was trying to trap him into saying "anti-Modi" things. Banerjee, who met PM Modi in New Delhi, told reporters: "He has been watching TV, he has been watching you guys, he knows what you are trying to do. So stop."
Banerjee called the meeting a "unique experience" and thanked the prime minister for giving him "quite a lot of time." "PM talked a lot about his way of thinking about India which was quite unique. He spoke about the way in which he sees governance in particular and why sometimes the mistrust of people on the ground, colours the governance. It, therefore, creates structures of elite control over the governance process," he said.
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He also added that the PM explained how the government is trying to reform bureaucracy and the ways in which people's views need to be taken into account.
Stating that Banerjee's passion towards human empowerment is clearly visible, Modi shared a picture from the meeting on micro-blogging site Twitter.
"Excellent meeting with Nobel Laureate Abhijit Banerjee. His passion towards human empowerment is clearly visible. We had a healthy and extensive interaction on various subjects. India is proud of his accomplishments. Wishing him the very best for his future endeavours," Modi wrote on Twitter.
Banerjee, his wife Esther Duflo, and Michael Kremer were jointly awarded the 2019 Nobel prize in Economics for their work related to alleviating poverty.
The meeting comes days after a debate was spurred after Union Minister Piyush Goyal's remarks against Banerjee.
Taking a swipe at Banerjee, Goyal said although he’s proud that an Indian has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics, he does not agree with Banerjee’s ideas because “his thinking is totally Left-leaning” and “people of India have totally rejected his thinking”.
On Goyal's remarks, Banerjee had said that the minister had questioned his professionalism and that he is "non-partisan" in his economic thinking. "I feel what's not helpful in that kind of comment is more the questioning of my profession or our professionalism. I think the reason we were given this prize is partly because we are professionals," Banerjee, in an interview with NDTV, said.
On BJP's jibe that Banerjee had advised Congress on its NYAY scheme for the Lok Sabha polls that was rejected, the economist said he would have provided the same economic data to the BJP government had it asked him. "I might be privately partisan about various things but in terms of the economics that I want people to take seriously, I am not partisan at all. If somebody asks me a question...I don't question their motives," he added.