National

Congress accuses Centre of weakening banking architecture

AICC spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala./ File photo

AICC spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala./ File photo   | Photo Credit: SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

The party was responding to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s tweet on Tuesday night in which she accused the Congress and its leaders of “misleading” people on loan write-offs.

The Congress on Wednesday sparred with Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman over allegations that the Centre had written off Rs 68,607 crore worth bank loans taken by top 50 defaulters, including fugitives like Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and Vijay Mallya.

Also read: Wilful defaulters beneficiaries of ‘phone banking’ under UPA regime: Nirmala Sitharaman

Former Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, in an online press conference, said he was aware of the technical rule that a non-performing loan could be written off but why was this rule applied to fugitives.

“Yes, we understand the technical rules of RBI. Point is not that...Why does this rule apply to Nirav Modis, Vijaya Mallyas and Mehul Choksis? They have been declared fugitives. That’s why, we questioned the bona fides of this government. The Finance Minister was silent for the last 37 days. Suddenly sprung to life and sprung to the defence of these fugitives. Is it not a little surprising and ironical?” he said.

Mr. Chidambaram’s remarks came after Ms Sitharaman said wilful defaulters were beneficiaries of “phone banking” under the United Progressive Alliance regime and the Modi government was chasing them to recover the dues.

Also read: Coronavirus | Congress questions ₹68,607 crore loan write-off

The Minister’s reaction came after the Congress, at a press conference on Tuesday, alleged that loans worth Rs. 68,607 crore were written off, and cited an RTI response by RBI to back their charge.

The party also alleged that from 2014 to the end of the 2019-20 financial year, the government had written off nearly Rs. 6.66 lakh crores.

‘Legacy of UPA era’

Countering these allegations in a series of tweets, Ms Sitharaman asserted that while the government was engaged in recovering loans, most of of the bad loans were a legacy of the UPA era.

Mr. Chidambaram said, “Is the government seriously suggesting that no loans were given after 2014 or that all the loans given after 2014 are performing loans? I mean, what do they take the people of India for? We may be stupid, but, we are not so stupid.”

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the Minister was twisting facts instead of giving answers. “ ...Nirmala Sitharaman ji, cleaning the banks of people’s money by writing off loans of absconders and fraudsters, is not called cleaning the system. It’s called weakening the entire bank architecture fiscally and imprudently, if not maliciously,” he said.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 7:20:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/congress-accuses-centre-of-weakening-banking-architecture/article31460448.ece

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