Jaitley Defends Leading India Central Bank Candidate From Attack

  • The government has ‘full confidence’ in Arvind Subramanian
  • Subramanian seen as most likely to replace Rajan in survey

Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley defended his chief economic adviser, a leading candidate to become central bank governor, after a ruling-party lawmaker attacked him on Wednesday.

“The government has full confidence in Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian," Jaitley told reporters in New Delhi on Wednesday. “His advice to the government from time to time has been of great value."

Subramanian, 57, had come under attack earlier in the day from lawmaker Subramanian Swamy, 76, who led a public campaign to oust current Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan. The former International Monetary Fund chief economist said over the weekend he would return to academia after his term ends in September, a decision said to be in part because the government failed to defend him from Swamy’s attacks -- a characterization Jaitley has disputed.

Subramanian was picked in a Bloomberg survey as the most likely to succeed Rajan among the five candidates the government is said to be considering. Seven of 13 economists picked the Oxford-educated Subramanian out of a list unveiled on Monday to reporters in New Delhi by a finance ministry official.

Arvind Subramanian7 votes
Rakesh Mohan2 votes
Urjit Patel2 votes
Subir Gokarn1 vote
Shaktikanta Das1 vote

Swamy, who holds a doctorate in economics from Harvard University, questioned Subramanian’s allegiance to India for remarks to the U.S. Congress in 2013 on Twitter. Swamy made similar attacks against Rajan, calling him “mentally not fully Indian" due to his time at the IMF and University of Chicago.

In 2013, Subramanian said the U.S. should address “demonstrably protectionist" Indian policies with complaints at the World Trade Organization.

“Was AS deposing before US Cong Committee against India as a US citizen or Indian?" Swamy tweeted on Wednesday, referring to Subramanian.

Subramanian didn’t respond to a text message seeking comment.

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