Union power minister Piyush Goyal on Friday lashed out at Manmohan Singh in Indore saying that “a historic and world-class example of organised loot” took place under the former Prime Minister’s watch when coal blocks were allocated for free to relatives and supporters of Congress leaders.
Goyal was addressing traders and industrialists in Indore on issues arising out of demonetisation.
“There was absolutely no transparency in coal block allocation, and (Singh) he is teaching us what organised loot is,” Goyal said, adding that “I wanted to stand up and ask what were you doing when in Coalgate thousands of crores were being plundered under your eyes as you were also the coal minister.”
On Thursday, Singh had lambasted the government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Rajya Sabha, saying the implementation of demonetisation was a “monumental management failure” and a case of “organised loot and legalised plunder”.
“I have seen the documents and if there is a historic and world class example of organised loot then that was coal block allocation, where blocks were distributed free of cost to party MP, minister’s relatives and party supporters,” said Goyal, who is the coal minister.
Taking another jibe at the former PM, Goyal added: “Manmohan Singh quoted John Keynes that ‘in the long run we are all dead’ but perhaps he doesn’t know or remember another of his quotes, ‘when the facts change, I change my mind, what do you do’”.
GDP will rise, says Union minister
Goyal also disputed the former prime minister’s statement that the GDP will drop by 2%.
“I am a CA and I can say that in this quarter there will be some effect but not on year as a whole. Everybody understands that if every transaction is brought on books and becomes white then the GDP will rise,” he said.
Goyal was accompanied by BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya.
Goyal fails to convince Industrialists and traders
Industrialists and traders remained unconvinced on Friday after Union power minister Piyush Goyal promoted demonetisations’ long-term results of tax compliance and inflation reduction but stopped short of suggesting solutions to the immediate cash crunch.
Goyal said although people were facing problems due to withdrawal of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, businessmen will get a level-playing field once the majority becomes tax compliant. “Inflation will come down, interest rates will fall and taxes will also come down once governments’ revenue rises. You, as a taxpayer, will not have to worry about searches and inspections by tax officials,” he said.
However, the minister could answer only one query while BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya requested guests to e-mail their problems to Goyal as he left to attend another event.
Responding to Ahilya Chambers of Commerce and Industry president Ramesh Khandelwal’s grievance that he was not able to withdraw money despite being an honest taxpayer, Goyal said currency notes could not be printed on a larger scale in advance to maintain secrecy.
‘Minister did not offer practical solutions for the cash crunch’
Talking to HT, Association of Industry (Madhya Pradesh) president OP Dhoot said, “The minister talked about virtues of being honest but did not offer practical solutions for the cash crunch that we are facing. Unless the government increases currency supply and relaxes withdrawal limit, our problems will remain. We have to pay salaries next month and are seeing a fall in demand, especially in the food processing and consumer-durable sectors.”
‘Forget mobile wallet, many factory workers don’t have bank accounts’
Other industrialists were also critical of the minister’s talk about shifting to mobile wallets. “The minister is just parroting the lines of Prime Minister. Forget mobile wallet, many factory workers don’t have bank accounts and we are now encouraging them to open accounts,” said an industrialist who did not wish to be named.
Pithampur industry association president Gautam Kothari said some factories were on the verge of stopping production.