Union finance minister Arun Jaitley on Monday slammed Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi for his ‘fair-and-lovely’ jibe, saying that it showed a “racist mindset”.
“I have no problem with this phrase. But this phrase is politically incorrect. It shows a racist mindset that what is not fair is not lovely. The world over, people frown over the use of such a phrase. In any case, I will pass it off as ignorance,” he said in his reply to the debate on the general budget in the Lok Sabha.
The Congress vice-president had earlier criticised the government’s black money disclosure scheme. Jaitley didn’t name Gandhi in his statement though.
Stating that India can grow faster in the “absence of obstructionism”, Jaitley sought support of the Opposition for the passage of bills such as the Constitution (Amendment) bill to enable the roll out the Goods and Services tax. The finance minister also rejected demands for rollback of 1% excise duty on jewellery, maintaining that it was in preparation for the Goods and Services tax (GST).
Speaking about the black money disclosure scheme, Jaitley stressed that it was not an amnesty scheme or voluntary disclosure of income scheme (VDIS) or any concession, unlike the schemes brought by other governments earlier.
Highlighting the importance of making substantial allocation for agriculture and rural sector in the budget, he said it makes a classic “economic, social and political” sense.
He said the allocations made for rural roads (Rs 27,000 crore) is the highest ever.
Dismissing the charges about the government writing off bad loans, he said, “Not a single rupee has been written off by any bank.”
The Lok Sabha later passed the appropriation bill completing the first phase of the budgetary exercise for 2016-17.