Economy Safe, "Worry Not": Nirmala Sitharaman's Dig At Ramchandra Guha

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 Nirmala Sitharaman's Dig At Ramchandra Guha

There was a war of words on twitter between Nirmala Sitharaman and Ramchandra Guha.

New Delhi:

Noted historian Ramchandra Guha's tweet on Thursday quoting a British author set off a big debate on the microblogging platform in which Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani also got embroiled. The exchange ended with the Finance minister telling the historian not to worry about the economy, as it is in "safe hands".

Earlier today, Mr Guha had tweeted a quote from British writer Philip Spratt, "an Englishman who became an Indian, as well as a Communist who became a free market liberal", whom he quoted on earlier occasions too.

This time, the quote he picked was Spratt's comment that Gujarat - Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state -- was economically strong but "culturally backward".

"Gujarat, though economically advanced, is culturally a backward province... . Bengal in contrast is economically backward but culturally advanced".
Philip Spratt, writing in 1939.

— Ramachandra Guha (@Ram_Guha) June 11, 2020

Mr Guha, soon after, backed it up with a "statutory warning":

"When I post quotes by others found in the course of my research, I do so because I find them arresting in some way. I may (or may not) endorse, in part or in whole, what I am quoting. Reserve your praise or your anger for the ghost of the person being quoted," his post read.

Statutory warning; when I post quotes by others found in the course of my research, I do so because I find them arresting in some way. I may (or may not) endorse, in part or in whole, what I am quoting. Reserve your praise or your anger for the ghost of the person being quoted.

— Ramachandra Guha (@Ram_Guha) June 11, 2020

But Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani responded, saying "Earlier it was the British who tried to divide and rule. Now it is a group of elites who want to divide Indians" and that Indians would not fall for "tricks" of dividing them.

Earlier it was the British who tried to divide and rule. Now it is a group of elites who want to divide Indians.

Indians won't fall for such tricks.

Gujarat is great, Bengal is great...India is united.

Our cultural foundations are strong, our economic aspirations are high. https://t.co/9mCuqCt7d1

— Vijay Rupani (@vijayrupanibjp) June 11, 2020

Mr Guha immediately responded with "If the Gujarat Chief Minister is, at this moment in history, (a) so keenly following the tweets of a humdrum historian and (b) so easily confusing the historian with a dead writer being quoted, the State of Gujarat must indeed be in safe hands."

If the Gujarat Chief Minister is, at this moment in history, (a) so keenly following the tweets of a humdrum historian and (b) so easily confusing the historian with a dead writer being quoted, the State of Gujarat must indeed be in safe hands.

— Ramachandra Guha (@Ram_Guha) June 11, 2020

Later, Nirmala Sitharaman also weighed in with a weblink to an article published in September 2018 about the government of Poland organising event to honour Maharaja Jam Saheb Digvijaysinhji Jadeja - the former king of Jamnagar -- for giving shelter to 1,000 Polish children during World War II.

The accompanying post read: "In 1939, when Philip Spratt, from Britain, belonging to the Communist International wrote, (who @Ram_Guha quotes) this was what was happening in Gujarat: Jamnagar... Maharaja Jam Saheb Digvijaysinhji Jadeja... saved 1,000 Polish children #Culture".

In 1939, when Philip Spratt, from Britain, belonging to the Communist International wrote, (who ⁦⁦@Ram_Guha⁩ quotes) this was what was happening in Gujarat: Jamnagar...Maharaja Jam Saheb Digvijaysinhji Jadeja...saved 1000 Polish children #Culturehttps://t.co/5XsY2cL1WZ

— Nirmala Sitharaman (@nsitharaman) June 11, 2020

Soon after, Mr Guha tweeted: "I thought it was only the Gujarat CM, but now it seems even the FM is obsessing about a humdrum historian''s tweets. The economy is surely in safe hands."

Late in the evening, the finance minister responded with a jibe.

The economy is very much in safe hands; worry not, Mr. Guha. Taking cognisance of thoughts in current national discourse+responsibly doing my job aren't mutually exclusive. Either way, an interest in history is a plus. Surely an intellectual such as yourself should know that 🙏🏽. https://t.co/speBC2bggv

— Nirmala Sitharaman (@nsitharaman) June 11, 2020

But Mr Guha ended the debate with a sharper tweet. "I have been trying without success for thirty years to make the writer Philip Spratt better known; thank you to the Troll Army for accomplishing this in a day," his post read.

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