New Delhi: The BJP has questioned the credentials of Ramanan Lakshminarayan who in several media interviews has predicted that India will have around 300 to 500 million cases of novel coronavirus.

Many news channels, including the BBC, India Today and top journalists like Barkha Dutt have interviewed Lakshminarayan whose prediction has triggered massive panic and scare across India. BJP's foreign affairs in-charge Vijay Chauthaiwale in a series of tweets on Sunday, pointed out that Lakshminarayan was found guilty in a major case of intellectual property theft and has a serious conflict of interest in another case too.

Additionally, he was wrongly projected as an epidemiologist by media channels."First of all, he is an economist and not epidemiologist. He worked with the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) for four years. While working with the PHFI, he launched two private companies without PHFI's permission. PHFI did not renew his contract in 2016," Chauthaiwale said. PHFI sued him for stealing its intellectual property and won the case against him and got back its rights, the BJP leader said adding that the court even awarded legal costs to the PHFI. Chauthaiwale said that the economist in addition to his company CDDEP, also launched another company called Health cube, which works in the area of diagnostics. "His second venture is 'Public Health Technologies Trust' (PHTT)," he tweeted saying that he has an ongoing legal dispute with Arun Nanda of Mahindra & Mahindra regarding PHTT. "In short, this fear-mongering by Lakshminarayan needs rigorous questioning, especially with reference to his credentials, his track record and his vested interests. This is a clear case of conflict of interests," Chauthaiwale tweeted.

Sources said that Lakshminarayan is a PhD in economics from University of Michigan and an American citizen. His wife Preetha Rajaram works as a health attache in the US embassy in New Delhi. He operates the CDDEP out of New Delhi and Washington, teaches part time at Princeton and runs his other company Healthcube along with a Silicon Valley-based partner Vivek Wadhwa for commercial services in aimmunology modelling'. The PHFI, sources said, had sued the economist-turned-businessman for stealing Swasthya Slate Technology which he was supervising as Vice-President Research at the time. (IANS)

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