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In his response, Pachauri cited and linked to the document released on the ninth anniversary of the UPA that seeks to highlight the government’s achievements. Photo: Hindustan Times (Hindustan Times)
In his response, Pachauri cited and linked to the document released on the ninth anniversary of the UPA that seeks to highlight the government’s achievements. Photo: Hindustan Times
(Hindustan Times)

Pachauri vs Mehta: Critical column sparks Twitter defence

Pankaj Pachauri defends UPA record after Pratap Bhanu Mehta adapts German pastor’s poem to illustrate a govt asleep at the wheel

The Prime Minister’s media adviser Pankaj Pachauri has hit back at a column critical of the United Progressive Alliance government by Pratap Bhanu Mehta, the head of think-tank Centre for Policy Research. “While @pbmehta was sleeping, India was progressing," he tweeted. “All the details have been in public space since June – http://pmindia.gov.in/ebook/2004-2013/ebook_PMO_English.pdf"

Pachauri was responding to a column titled “While we were silent" by Mehta in Thursday’s Indian Express.

In his piece, Mehta, who, like many other commentators and analysts—including several in-house as well as external columnists of Mint—has been critical of the policies of the United Progressive Alliance, used the device of the popular poem by German pastor Martin Niemoller about how Germany’s intelligentsia ignored the rise of the Nazis. (It starts : First they came for the communists and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist. Full version here)

Mehta’s piece starts: “First the UPA came for the roads sector… We did not speak out. After all the only reason the NDA could have started the golden quadrilateral is because they wanted to spread Hindutva."

In his response, Pachauri cited and linked to the document released on the ninth anniversary of the UPA that seeks to highlight the government’s achievements. Pachauri’s tweet, however, landed him in some amount of trouble, with people questioning some of the data in the report he highlighted. For instance, the report claimed the number of Internet users in India is currently at 485.6 million.

Since it was re-elected to power in 2009, the UPA has been buffeted by a wave of corruption controversies and the ensuing policy paralysis as well as its inability to fight inflation have seen the country’s economic growth slow to a decade’s low of 5% in 2012-13. To be sure, since September last year, the government has been trying to talk up the economy with several measures to attract foreign investment in various sectors, without much result.

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