The BJP sought to corner former finance minister P Chidambaram, alleging that he granted seven private firms, including scam-accused Gitanjali Gems, gold import benefits on the day of counting of 2014 Lok Sabha poll votes and asked the Congress how much “cut” was given to whom for the decision. Senior party leader and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad targeted the Congress and Chidambaram, whose son Karti Chidambaram has been arrested by the CBI in a corruption case, at a press conference which was described by the BJP as an “expose on the politics of lies and deceit” of the opposition party. Prasad alleged that the then Congress-led UPA government “destroyed” the economy by not letting the real stressed assets get reflected in banks’ books and said total advances given by banks in the last six years of its rule rose to Rs 52.15 lakh crore from Rs 18.06 lakh crore in 2008. Only 36 per cent of these advances were identified as stressed assets but they rose to 82 per cent, he said, alleging that under the then “so-called economist” prime minister Manmohan Singh and Chidambaram, the banking system was “sought to be derailed by interventions, patronage and pressure”.
However, it was Chidambaram who was the main target of the ruling party. He, Prasad alleged, gave seven private firms benefits under 80:20 gold import scheme on May 16, 2014, the day Narendra Modi-led BJP was swept to power, ousting the UPA. “What does it mean? On May 16, the Manmohan Singh government is losing, P Chidambaram’s chair is in danger… Chidamrabarm and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi should tell us why this order to benefit seven private firms was passed on that day. Is it corruption or jumla (rhetoric)?” he asked. They want true picture of Chidambram to appear before the country, Prasad, said and also sought to target the Congress’ top brass as he claimed that the then finance minister was doing so with “blessings” of others.
It was the “height of shamelessness” to take such a decision on May 16, the BJP leader said, adding that the RBI had cleared it a few days later before the Narendra Modi-led government scrapped the decision within a few months of coming into power. “Mr Chidambaram please reply, is it jumla or blatant favouritism, mala fide conduct and rampant corruption? The Congress party should answer who were these people lobbying for Gitanjali and what was the cut,” he asked. No corrupt people will be spared by the BJP government, he said
Chidambaram has repeatedly used the term ‘jumla’ to mock the BJP government’s policies. The Congress was resorting to “fear, lies, concoction and confusion” to target the BJP government, he said, and spoke about the opposition’s campaign on the Rafale deal and several other issues to claim that these were all baseless charges. Blaming the Congress for scams which came to light recently, he said the party had planted so many “land mines” when it was in power than some of them kept exploding on and off. He cited a recent case of fraud registered by the CBI against a son-in-law of Punjab chief minister and Congress leader Amarinder Singh and described it as a “textbook case” in this regard. The Congress was anti-reform and that was why it was opposed to Aadhaar and the GST because these measures bring about transparency and curb corruption, he claimed.
Prasad claimed the Congress had become disconnected with the masses and its constant policy in the last four years was to spread fear and confusion among the people to return to power. He cited a recent survey by the Congress on the alleged move to introduce 13-digit mobile numbers, and its claim that the Narendra Modi-led dispensation was eying people’s deposits in banks by bringing in “convenience charges” through a bill to make his point. Both claims of the Congress were totally baseless, he said, and recalled its stand on demonetisation and the Doklam row to accuse the opposition party of putting at stake India’s pride to spread “bhram and bhay” (confusion and fear) among people. He referred to the BJP’s win in a number of state polls to assert that the common man rejected the opposition’s propaganda against it and supported the government’s policies.
Prasad reiterated the government’s stand that no loan given under its tenure had turned into a non-performing asset (NPA). He also said Jatin Mehta, a businessman who is also said to have fled India after defaulting on loans, had escaped in 2012. Rahul Gandhi must answer these questions when he returns from Italy, he said. Taking a dig at the Congress chief, Prasad said Gandhi can take his help in use of social media as he was also the IT minister and Gandhi was often found “lacking in homework” in his tweets targeting the government.