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Since 1st March, 1999
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Cong fights expert exit slur

New Delhi, July 11: The Congress has blamed Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi for creating circumstances that led to the exit of economist Bibek Debroy from the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Contemporary Studies.

The Gujarat chief minister “opportunistically” exploited the think-tank’s report that ranked the state first in terms of economic freedom, Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said.

Sharma was responding to queries over reports that Debroy (in picture) quit in the wake of an instruction from Sonia Gandhi that the institute should get prior clearance from the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation’s executive committee before going public with its research findings and reports. Sonia heads the executive committee.

Sharma rejected suggestions that Debroy’s resignation was a result of Sonia’s “interference” in the institute’s academic activities.

“There is no question of any interference,” he said, adding that Debroy took a “personal” decision to step down.

The institute's report on economic freedom had caused embarrassment to the Congress last month when the Modi government, under constant fire over its alleged role in the post-Godhra riots, brought out advertisements publicising the top rank.

Sharma said Modi, while exploiting the report to improve his government’s image, had concealed a crucial fact: the report pertained to the period up to 2001 when Modi had not yet become chief minister.

Debroy has submitted his resignation on July 1, soon after Sonia’s instruction to the institute. Sharma did not find anything unusual about the directive. “The RGF is autonomous and independent. It has its own constitution,” he said.

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