As the Modi government came under intense Opposition fire for induction of allegedly “tainted” ministers, finance minister Arun Jaitley the strong counter-attack, refuted all allegations and insisted that "the entire charge of Congress is baseless".
Congress communication department chairman Ajay Maken had cited the records of 23 ministers and particularly targeted TDP nominee YS Chowdary and BJP’s Ram Shankar Katheria. Both leaders were inducted as ministers of state last Sunday. AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal questioned JP Nadda’s appointment as the new health minister, replacing Harshvardhan.
Upping the ante against the Congress, Jaitley said, "During the UPA government, the PM never had the last word in the Cabinet formation or its expansion. In the NDA, the last word is exclusively that of the PM.”
Jaitley even advised the Congress to "confine itself to quality of poor governance that they gave and compare it with the quality of governance the NDA government is giving rather than resorting to these baseless allegations".
Maken had sought Chowdary’s resignation as his company had allegedly defaulted on the repayment of loans worth Rs 317.6 crore taken from the Central Bank of India. Katheria, the Congress said, has 23 criminal cases against him. The Congress also described inclusion of Giriraj Singh, MP from Nawada, as a “crisp slap to secularism.”
Dismissing allegations against Kathetia, Jaitley pointed out that Akhilesh Yadav government has slapped criminal cases against all BJP workers in the state. “These are cases arising out of political agitations. Not cases out of some crime or moral turpitude,” the minister added.
Defending Chowdary, the finance minister added that one of his many companies was making losses. “One account was in difficulty. The bank restructured it; he is paying back all the instalments (and) has a regular account today," Jaitley said.
The Aam Admi Party also questioned the PM’s move to replace Harshvardhan with JP Nadda in the health ministry. AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal tweeted, “Nadda, the man who got Sanjeev Chaturvedi transferred from AIIMS, made health min? So, now modi ji will remove corruption in AIIMS thro Nadda?” Jaitley defended Nadda to say that every MP has a right to raise issues.
Earlier too, the Congress and the BJP had locked horns over tainted ministers. In 2004, the BJP-led Opposition didn’t even allow the introduction of ministers by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over pending charges and cases against ministers.