Parliament reopens to PNB fraud case firestorm, bad loans debate
Opposition parties wanted the government to reveal the whereabouts of Nirav Modi, who, along with his associates, is accused of defrauding the state-owned PNB to the tune of around Rs 12,000 crore.india Updated: Mar 06, 2018 00:18 IST
The Opposition, led by the Congress, targeted the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government inside Parliament for the fraud at Punjab National Bank (PNB) even as the latter returned the favour outside the House by blaming the former for bad loans in banks and for allegedly favouring some jewellers in 2014 by allowing them to import gold and sell it in the local market.
The disruption in Parliament meant no work got done. Opposition parties wanted the government to reveal the whereabouts of Nirav Modi, who, along with his associates, is accused of defrauding the state-owned PNB to the tune of around Rs 12,000 crore.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present in the House.
The question hour was washed out in the Lok Sabha and the Opposition was unrelenting when the House met again at noon. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan then adjourned the Lok Sabha for the day.
After Rajya Sabha resumed work at 2pm following two brief adjournments in the morning, deputy chairman PJ Kurien offered a a short duration to discuss frauds in public sector banks if the members wanted it, but Opposition members continued to shout slogans. Kurien then adjourned the House for the day.
Outside Parliament, law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad addressed a press conference on a decision taken by the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government on May 16, 2014, days before it was voted out of power. That decision allowed so-called star trading houses and premier trading houses to import gold and sell it in the local market. Previously, they were only allowed to import gold on the condition that they would work on it and export the value added product. Prasad alleged that Gitanjali Gems, promoted by Mehul Choksi, who has been named as Nirav Modi’s associate in the fraud, was a beneficiary.
The minister added that the policy was scrapped a few months later by the NDA.
In a series of tweets, BJP president Amit Shah said non-performing assets (NPAs) on the books of banks were the “biggest liability” that the Modi government inherited. “NPA crisis is UPA’s legacy and biggest scam of the UPA. Congress in power granted loan out of common man’s bank deposit and did not show it in bank’s balance sheet. NPA is the biggest liability that Modi government inherited from the UPA,” Shah said in a tweet in Hindi.
The fraud at PNB wasn’t the only issue that disrupted Parliament, though. Telugu Desam Party MPs resorted to slogan shouting in the two houses demanding special category status for Andhra Pradesh. The AIADMK and the DMK – the two rival parties in Tamil Nadu – also came together to demand implementation of the court order on constitution of Caurvey Water Management Board.