BJP govt waived loans worth Rs 6.66 lakh crore, helped defaulters: Congress
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi said he had asked a question in Parliament seeking the names of the country’s top 50 bank loan defaulters but the finance minister didn’t give an answer.Updated: Apr 29, 2020 10:19 IST
The Congress on Tuesday alleged the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government had waived off Rs 68,607 crore due from the top 50 bank loan defaulters, including Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and Vijay Mallya. The BJP, however, has denied the allegation.
Citing what it said was an RTI reply from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the opposition party also alleged the NDA government also waived off loans worth Rs 6.66 lakh crore between coming to power in 2014 and last September, and asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman to come clean on the matter.
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi said he had asked a question in Parliament seeking the names of the country’s top 50 bank loan defaulters but the finance minister didn’t give an answer.
“I asked a straight question in Parliament – state the names of the 50 top bank loan defaulters in the country. The finance minister refused to answer the question. Now, the RBI has given the names of Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and many of BJP’s ‘friends’ in the list of bank frauds. That is why this truth was held back from Parliament,” he tweeted in Hindi.
Mallya recently lost his UK high court appeal against an order for his extradition to India. India has also sought the extradition of Choksi, one of the accused in the Punjab National Bank scam, from Antigua and Barbuda. Modi is fighting his extradition to India from the UK over charges of fraud and money laundering.
On March 16, Gandhi had asked the question about wilful bank loan defaulters during the Lok Sabha’s budget session. But he wasn’t allowed a supplementary question, triggering protests by Congress members in the House.
Gandhi later said his right as a Member of Parliament to ask a supplementary question in the Lok Sabha was taken away as Speaker Om Birla didn’t allow him to do so.
The Congress leader said he was hurt by the action as it was the Speaker’s duty to protect his right to speak and ask supplementary questions. “This is completely unfair,” he had said.
However, union minister of state for finance Anurag Thakur took a swipe at Gandhi, saying the former Congress chief considers himself a “privileged” MP and wants to be treated differently than other Lok Sabha members.
“Some people consider themselves privileged. They want to be treated differently than other MPs. They want to ask questions even after the Question Hour is over...The answers to his questions were provided in writing to him but still Gandhi and other Congress members made noise,” Thakur countered.
BJP spokesperson Gopa lAgarwal also rebutted the Congress leader’s remarks.
“We have categorically explained, and anyone known to Banking industry, will vouch that making provisions for NPA and Bad loans is not write off. It remains recoverable and the borrower is obligated to pay back that amount to the Banks. Provisioning only strengthens the Banks Balance sheet from the lenders point of view,” said Agarwal,
He said the Congress is misleading people by raising the issue. “I am ashamed to call Congress leaders like Chidambaram and Manmohan Singh economists, if they can’t understand or swallow this basic fundamentals of banking. Actually they are playing a fraud on the people of our country trying to mislead and misinform the nation. Truly we should all ask the ex PM and ex FM; under whose tenure these scrupulous loans were given to these crony capitalist like Nirav Modi, Vijay Mallya and Mehul Chokshi? And now who is trying to recover them, with Benami property act, fugitive offenders act and extradition? It is our government of Shri Narendra Modi,” the BJP spokesperson added.
Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala had on Tuesday released the list of top loan defaulters, according to the RTI reply from the RBI. He also demanded answers from the prime minister on why their loans were waived off.
“This is a classic case of promoting the ‘dupe, deceive and depart’ policy of the Modi government, which can no longer be accepted and the prime minister has to answer,” he told a news briefing via video conference.
Surjewala said this also reflected the “misconceived priorities and dishonest intentions” of the Modi government.
The entire country is fighting the Coronavirus and the government has no money to pay states, but it has the money to condone and write off Rs 68,307 crore of bank loan defaulters, he said.
“Helping fugitives and waiving off their loans has become the BJP’s main agenda. On March 16, Rahul Gandhi asked the government in Parliament for the names of 50 top bank scamsters in India. The government and the finance minister kept mum and refused to disclose any names,” Surjewala said. “But now an RTI has revealed the magnitude of the waiver.”
Surjewala said the government’s financial mismanagement has caused non-performing assets (NPAs) to balloon out of proportion. “Till April 24, Rs 68,607 crore had been written off by the government. The prime minister cannot evade this question by keeping silent,” he said.
“As much as Rs 8,048 crore have been written off for Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi. Another diamond merchant Jatin Mehta’s Rs 6,048 crore too has been written off, and so is the case with Kingfisher’s Vijay Mallya. Similar is the case with the relations of these defaulters,” he alleged.
“This is what happens when an economy, primed to be one of the largest in the world, is run by an ‘Entire Political Scientist’. Tax payers money is being used to bailout the government’s rich friends. How long will the government continue the charade of working for the poor and the middle class?” the opposition party said on Twitter.
It alleged that such write-offs have come to light at a time when the government has frozen the dearness allowance of Central government employees, pensioners and defence personnel.