Mumbai: The Indian economy grew slightly less than 7% in the fiscal year to 31 March due to the impact of the global slowdown, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Monday.
“The global economy is in deep trouble and we are affected by it. But because of the measures we have taken, we had anticipated something of this sort, the effect on our economy is not as great as the impact on many other countries,” Singh told a televised news conference.
“We have recorded a growth of 9% in the first four years of our government. Last year, because of the impact of global recession, the growth rate will be slightly less than 7%.”
Singh and chief rival L.K. Advani lashed out at each other, raising the political temperature three days before the first votes are cast in general elections.
Poll heat: Manmohan Singh in Mumbai on Monday. Singh and L.K. Advani traded barbs in separate press conferences. Rajanish Karkare / AP
Advani, prime ministerial candidate for the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), branded Congress party incumbent Singh a “weak” leader who had devalued the office by having to bow to party chief Sonia Gandhi over key decisions.
Singh used the press conference in Mumbai on Monday to hit back, accusing 81-year-old Advani of wringing his hands in frustration while one of his chief ministers “condones a pogrom targeted at minorities.”
That was a reference to Narendra Modi, BJP chief minister of Gujarat.
Opinion polls suggest neither of India’s main political alliances will be able to win a clear majority in the elections, which end on 13 May.
“Mr. Advani has the unique ability to combine strength in speech with weakness in actions,” Singh said. “This is not the kind of strength we need.”
Advani went on the offensive as he campaigned on Monday for his party in Kerala before the first round of voting on 16 April.
Singh “has been proved a weak prime minister, particularly because he has for the first time since democracy devalued the high office of prime minister”, Advani said in a televised press conference in Thiruvananthapuram.
(‘Bloomberg’ contributed to this story.)