‘Cong, Rahul Gandhi should introspect’: Sitharaman hits back on wilful defaulter row
Her remarks came a day after the opposition Congress party alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government had written off loans worth Rs 68,607 crore due from top 50 bank loan defaulters, including Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and Vijay Mallya.Updated: Apr 29, 2020 13:35 IST
The government has attached or seized properties worth Rs 18,332.70 crore in the cases involving fugitive economic offenders Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi, Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said, while also hitting out the Congress party over its allegations that the Centre had written off loans of as many as 50 top defaulters.
In a series of tweets on Tuesday night, Sitharaman stressed that the government is pursuing wilful defaulters, and has filed 9,967 recovery suits and 3,515 first-information reports (FIRs) against such offenders.
Her remarks came a day after the opposition Congress party alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government had written off loans worth Rs 68,607 crore due from top 50 bank loan defaulters, including Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and Vijay Mallya.
Citing a right to information (RTI) reply from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to activist Saket Gokhale, the Congress also alleged that the NDA government waived off loans worth Rs 6.66 lakh crore between 2014, when it came to power, and last September, and asked for a response from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sitharaman.
In her reply, Sitharaman said the Congress “attempted to mislead people in a brazen manner”, adding that it’s typical of the party that resorts “to sensationalising facts by taking them out of context”.
She pointed at what she called the Congress’s failure to play a “constructive role”, launching a fresh attack on former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who has sought to corner the government over the issue of wilful defaulters.
“@INCIndia and Shri. @RahulGandhi should introspect why they fail to play a constructive role in cleaning up the system. Neither while in power, nor while in the opposition has the @INCIndia shown any commitment or inclination to stop corruption & cronyism,” Sitharaman tweeted.
She said scheduled commercial banks wrote off Rs 145,226 crore between 2009-10 and 2013-14, when the Congress-ruled United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government was in power. “Wished Shri. @RahulGandhi consulted Dr. Manmohan Singh (who was then the prime minister) on what this writing-off was about,” she said.
Referring to media reports and quoting former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan, she said a large number of bad loans originated in the period 2006-2008 in the Congress rule, and “too many loans were made to well-connected promoters who have a history of defaulting on their loans...”
Sitharaman gave details of the cases involving Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and Vijay Mallya.
“Nirav Modi Case : Immovable and movable properties worth more than Rs 2387 Crore attached/seized.(Attachment Rs 1898 Crore and Seizure Rs 489.75 Crore). This includes foreign attachments of Rs 961.47 Crore. Auction of luxury items for Rs 53.45 Crore. He is in prison in the UK.”
“Mehul Choksi Case: Attachments of Rs 1936.95 Crore including foreign attachment of Rs 67.9 Crore. Seizure of Rs 597.75 Crore. Red Notice issued. Extradition Request sent to Antigua. Hearing for declaration of Mehul Choksi as Fugitive Offender is in progress.”
“Vijay Mallya Case : Total value at the time of attachment was Rs 8040 Crore and of seizure was Rs 1693 Crore. Value of shares at the time of seizure was Rs 1693 Crore. Declared fugitive offender. On extradition request by GoI,UK High Court, has also ruled for extradition.”
But Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala was not satisfied. In a series of tweets, he asked whether the RTI reply of RBI stated the facts and questioned why the government was wrting off “bank loans of absconders and frauds”.
“And @nsitharaman ji, Cleaning the Banks of people’s money by writing off loans of absconders & fraudsters is not called ‘cleaning the system’. ... It’s called weakening the entire Bank architecture fiscally & imprudently, if not maliciously,” Surjewala said.