Union Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday castigated the Congress and its leader Rahul Gandhi for “misleading” people and “telling” untruths by accusing the government of selling the country’s assets created over the last 70 years.
She was responding to a question from a TV channel journalist on the flak the government received after announcing the ₹ 6 lakh crore National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP).
“I wish the Opposition questions with some homework done. Who actually monetised the Mumbai Pune corridor,” she asked. “Was it not by the Congress Party which was headed by Sonia Gandhi and ₹ 8000-odd crore was raised by that?” she said.
“New Delhi Railway Station... who called the RFP [Request for Proposal] on it? Was it not the Congress Party in 2008," she asked.
She then pulled out a paper from the front desk and read out, “New Delhi Railway Station RFP call was made on 27.10.2008.” And she displayed the paper to the media at a press conference organised for proving updates on the review of public sector banks.
“In 2008, who was the Prime Minister? Who was the Finance Minister then? And I would definitely ask Sri Rahul Gandhi when the PM was abroad and when he thought that one of the ordinances was so outrageous that he tore it up in front of the media, did he tear up this RFP call for the New Delhi Railway Station to be monetised? Did he tear it out,” she asked, displaying the paper.
“If he is indeed against monetisation, why was the RFP for monetising New Delhi Railway Station not torn into pieces by him?” she observed.
“Is this not monetisation? They sold off the New Delhi Railway Station and it is owned by Jijaji [brother- in-law Robert Vadra] now,” said the Minister.
‘We are not selling off’
“Does he understand what is monetisation?....We are not selling off. They [the assets] will be handed back to the government,” she asserted.
“The Congress Party can, every now and then, come up saying you are selling off the country. That is something they are very good at... and made a lot of kickback with it,” she said. The Congress was telling people to believe something “which is not true,” and misleading them, she stated.
“I can give you more examples of those asset monetisation which happened during their period. Please ask him to take it all out and explain it before people,” she said.
“He [Rahul Gandhi] said we sold everything that was built in 70 years ... 70 years...what happened during the Commonwealth Games? Within one Commonwealth Games they finished off all which can be creamed out into the accounts of their cronies. That is their business not of the Government of Prime Minister Modi,” she declared.
In the monetisation pipeline that was announced by her two days ago there would be no change of ownership. “It [assets] will remain with Government of India. They are brownfield assets, which are almost completed but are underutilised,” she added.