Nirmala Sitharaman
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at a press conference | Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint | File photo
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New Delhi: Just three question marks on Twitter have left Indian political observers in a tizzy.

First, mythologist and author Devdutt Pattanaik tweeted early Sunday morning that a campaign should be launched to get outspoken BJP Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy appointed as India’s finance minister. 

To this, the actual Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, responded with the aforementioned three question marks.

Pattanaik apologised to Sitharaman soon after, but Twitter had already taken notice of the exchange. 

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While there were a few who chose to side with Pattanaik, several others felt that he had let them down with his tweets.


But Pattanaik is hardly the first person to have had this idea—it has come many times from Swamy himself!

In May this year, Swamy, who holds a PhD in economics from Harvard University, had shown interest in taking charge as finance minister in Narendra Modi’s new government. 

He was, however, left out of the council of ministers entirely, while Sitharaman, who had served as defence minister between September 2017 and May 2019, was handed the finance portfolio.

Swamy’s criticism of Modi govt

Swamy has regularly been in the headlines thanks to his scathing criticism of several decisions taken by the government, led by his own party, the BJP. 

Soon after the Sitharaman presented her maiden Union budget, he had picked holes in it by quoting paragraphs with comments like “Hare Ram” and “Sweet dreams”.

Last month, he had also launched an attack on Modi’s ministers at the launch of his book Reset in the capital. 

He said that his “good friend”, Statistics Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda, knew “as much about stats as he did about Bharatnatyam”.

PM Modi was also not spared, with Swamy blaming his “lack of academic background” for surrounding himself with people who have little knowledge of economics, leading to the current state of the economy. 

His book reflected these opinions, with an excerpt stating: “As a prime minister, Narendra Modi is the exact opposite of his predecessor, Dr Singh. He is not a person of letters, and one who has an unstudied familiarity with microeconomics but not macroeconomics and its intricacies of inter-sectoral economic dynamics.

“…But this same lack of academic background has made him [PM Modi] dependent on his friends and chosen rootless ministers, who never tell him the bitter truth about the economy or explain the macroeconomics or that he needs to figure the way out of a crisis.”

Also read: Modi’s statistics minister knows as much about the subject as Bharatnatyam: Swamy


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17 Comments Share Your Views


  1. Patnaik is right. Dr. Swamy is an extraordinary talented man in Economics. Current and past finance minister were not good choice. For a 10+ GDP growth India needs free market just as China did it. Dr. Swamy has been preaching about free market long before anyone else. PM Modi need to wake up and do this for India’s growth.

  2. Nirmala Sitaraman had earned huge goodwill as a Defence Minister. It is wholly lost in her role as the Finance Minister, perhaps not entirely due to her fault, though her maiden budget was a catestrophy. Coupled with her haughty replies to questions from the public and media, she is not helping herself. Nevertheless, Dr.Subramanian Swamy is a maverick. He will not adhere to the collective responsibility of cabinet system. It is best if he remains an opposition party within BJP. Perhaps, Piyush Goyal would be a better choice to replace Nirmala Sitaraman. I am afram, she grew too fast in BJP and Modi’s cabinet, for her own good.

  3. Modi and his party consider the post of finance minister is political one and not an economic one. Furthermore Swami’s independent nature would not suit the Modi’s style of functioning.

  4. The major problem with S Swamy is that he is very rigid is his views and approach. Many of his ideas if accepted would be suicidal for BJP. He is unfit to a minister in Modi’s cabinet and Modi has rightly kept him out of his cabinet. Modi’s political enemies want a confrontation between Sawamy and Modi.

  5. To be honest, with all due respect to the lady, she should not be the FM of India. Swamy would have been a better candidate than her.

  6. Swamy is Really Good but anti muslim. Even he wont be able to turn things around in a jiffy. The damage is done. Lets wait for the worldwide slowdown on the anvil.

  7. The issue is not whether we should change FM. The issue is whether we should listen to what Swami says and adopt his ideas (which are very sensible) in the set of coherent policies that we want Modi as PM to devise and ask FM to implement, FM should be like project manager and ensuring that the political goals set for the management of economy are achieved and manage all tactical issues from time to time. Decision to drastically reduce direct/indirect taxes, labor reforms, selling of PSUs and PSBs, etc are essentially political and Modi has to come out and take them explaining the consequences in terms of fiscal deficit and why they are necessary now. Just like he took Demo decision and then let FM and RBI manage it (though RBI messed up its handling!). Of course, Devdutta has got emotional but he should have said we need a ‘Amit Shah’ in finance ministry now! That would have been discrete!

    • FM should be a lot more than Project Manager. More like Economic czar. The greatest force multiplier one can think of at the moment is a truly empowered Cabinet, each member functioning with the fullest autonomy and confidence. To a large extent, that Also applies to the senior bureaucracy, Joint Secretary and above. Excessive centralisation of power can prove counterproductive.

      • Fullest autonomy in practical terms means a directionless government that the opposition would love. Government ministries are not research institutions. For rapid development of the country all ministries must move in one direction with common goals set by the leadership as we do in programs management. Central government itself means centralization of power. Getting impression of excessive or low centralization of power are purely based on personal and political objectives of individuals. Excessive for you is perfectly normal to me. So stop rhyming.

  8. Pattnaik’s tweet is in bad taste. It is ruling party and PM’s prerogative. They will choose as per their perspective. Mob can’t decide this.

  9. This suggestion from Patnaik doesn’t make sense. Does anyone seriously believe that Sitharaman as FM or Das as RBI governor have the freedom to take decisions. Everything is vetted by the PMO headed right now by a Marxist. Swamy becoming FM is only possible if present head of PMO is voted out of office.

  10. It is not easy being FM at such a difficult time. On a recent visit to Bombay, FM was unable to hear out a depositor of PMC Bank who had undergone a kidney transplant. Received flak on social media. What comes across as arrogance may actually be a struggle to get on top of an incredibly broken situation. FM Arun Jaitley did not leave a bed of roses for his successor.

    • Sir, the question is if she is the best of political talent available for the chosen role. That needs an honest answer. For example, I can’t think of anybody better for home (than Amit Shah) or for Infra (Gadkari) as much as I disagree with their political ideology in general. And knowing well, PC or Shinde weren’t exemplary either!

      • Contrary what you believe Sitaraman is a good finance minister. No other finance minister in the past has been eager to listen to business leaders as she does. Reduction in corporate tax could not have been possible if any other like Jaitly would have been the FM. You seem to be having utopian view of finance ministery.


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