Union coal minister Sri Prakash Jaiswal created a flutter in the UPA government on Monday after he was shown by TV channels comparing finance minister Pranab Mukherjee's recent tax proposals with "blood-sucking mosquitoes".
Though Jaiswal retracted and claimed his comments were not aimed at the finance ministry but at several government departments, it is understood that finance minister Pranab Mukherjee called him for an explanation.
"For only 100 crore rupees revenue I realise how much you will have to go through. Like mosquitoes in the night, in our country there are some departments that also suck blood," TV channels showed him saying at an event in Kanpur-his Lok Sabha constituency. Jaiswal's speech was in support of the demand of the local bullion traders for a roll back of the hike in excise duty on jewellery.
Jaiswal reportedly told Mukherjee that he was misquoted and later blamed the media for not showing the correct picture. "Some channels have shown that I have made some comments on the finance ministry. It is unfortunate that channels don't show (the correct picture)," he told reporters at the Parliament House complex on Monday.
Jaiswal was also asked by senior UPA managers to clarify his stand. The minister, who recently faced heat from the Congress for a poor show in UP assembly polls, explained that unfortunately in many departments government officials harass businessmen and suck their blood.
Mukherjee also chose to downplay the incident. Talking to reporters, the finance minister brushed aside the issue and said, "No, no ... he (Jaiswal) told me, it is absolutely nothing. He has clarified it.”
Mukherjee, in a bid to mop up additional resources to check the yawning fiscal deficit gap, has proposed the imposition of excise duty on unbranded jewellery while doubling the import duty on gold.