Hitting back at Finance Minister P Chidambaram for his postage stamp barb, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi today said he can enlist knowledgeable people to help him govern based on the principle of being a "trustee."
"My knowledge about finance and economy will not occupy even a postage stamp. My whole knowledge can be confined to one word, that is trustee.
"...muhje koi bahut granthon ki zaroorat nahi hai. Granth walo ko mein rakh lunga apne paas (I don't need a lot of bookish knowledge. I can enlist people with knowledge)," he said.
Invoking the Father of the Nation several times in his hour-long speech at a seminar on new growth paradigm, Modi said that according to the concept of trusteeship propounded by Gandhiji, those in power should act like trustees of public goods and not behave like owners.
Modi was commenting on remarks made by Chidambaram, who in an interview to BBC said Modi's knowledge of economics can be written on the back of a postage stamp.
"What he (Modi) knows about economics can be written on the back of a postage stamp...he has said nothing about the fiscal deficit, nothing about the CAD (current account deficit), nothing about monetary policy," Chidambaram had said.
Modi retorted by saying that the country is suffering not only from a fiscal deficit but also "from governance deficit, trust deficit, security deficit, moral deficit and deficit of democratic institutions."
Gujarat had a revenue deficit when he took over as chief minister in 2001, Modi said, adding, "Since then, the state has been posting revenue surplus."
Modi also said he was a "24-hour CM."