Mounting an all-out offensive against the Congress and the UPA government, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Friday that the previous regime was a “rudderless and leaderless” one and Sonia Gandhi acted as the “Super Prime Minister”.
In her reply to the debate on the white paper – comparing the economy under the Congress-led UPA from 2004 to 2014 and the BJP-led NDA since then – Ms Sitharaman also tore into Congress leader Rahul Gandhi over the 2013 incident when he ‘tore up’ an ordinance proposed by the Manmohan Singh government. The finance minister dubbed him arrogant and called his act an insult of “his own Prime Minister”.
After speaking on the scams that took place under the UPA government and stating that her government pulled out the Indian economy from the ‘Fragile Five’ category, the finance minister said the genesis of the problems and mismanagement during the previous government’s rule lay in the leadership issue.
Speaking in Hindi, she said, “Leadership was at the heart of the problem. The rudderless, leaderless leadership was the focal point of the UPA’s mismanagement, its ghotala-driven (scam-driven) 10 years. Mrs Sonia Gandhi was the Super Prime Minister as the chairperson of the National Advisory Council (NAC) – an extra-constitutional and unaccountable person.”
Ms Sitharaman alleged that there was pressure on governance because Mrs Gandhi got extra-constitutional authority as the chairperson of the NAC, which was set up as an advisory board for the prime minister. She claimed that 710 files were sent to the NAC for “permission” by the government. “It was unaccountable, unanswerable power… why were 710 files sent to the NAC,” she asked.
Taking on the opposition over its repeated allegations that the government does not respect institutions, the finance minister brought up the 2013 incident involving Rahul Gandhi.
“Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was abroad. Rahul Gandhi tore up an ordinance and threw it at a press conference. Isn’t that insulting his own prime minister? He was arrogant… did not care for his own prime minister. They now shout about institutions and lecture us,” she thundered.
2013 Press Conference
After the Supreme Court had ruled in 2013 that MPs and MLAs convicted with a minimum two-year sentence would be immediately disqualified and would not get three months to appeal, like they did until then, the Manmohan Singh government had proposed an ordinance to overturn the judgment.
Mr Gandhi had termed the ordinance “complete nonsense” and said at a press conference, “I personally think what the government is doing on the ordinance is wrong. It was a political decision, every party does it, and there is a time to stop this nonsense… If we actually want to stop corruption then we cannot make these compromises.”
He had said the ordinance should be “torn and thrown out” and then proceeded to tear a piece of paper in front of the cameras.
‘Granary of Concoctions’
Speaking in the Lok Sabha earlier on Friday, the Congress’ leader in the House, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, called the government’s white paper a “granary of concoctions and a mountain of lies”, and said the document was nothing but an “electoral manifesto”.
“What is the use in abusing the family, Nehru, all of them on every issue? Please tell me…You abuse them in Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, everywhere. What is the objective? We need to introspect,” he was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.