PM Narendra Modi takes ‘phone-a-loan’ jibe at Congress, cites NPAs
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday launched a blistering attack on the Congress for leaving the economy on a ‘landmine’ by its indiscriminate lending, saying loans were handed out to select businessmen after phone calls were made by ‘namdars’ (dynasts).
He blamed ‘phone-a-loan’ scam of the previous UPA regime where money was lent by banks to select rich businessmen close to a particular family for mounting non-performing assets (NPA) but vowed to recover every penny from defaulters.
“How were these loans given? One phone call from the namdars would get the rich loans. This phone banking caused a lot of damage to the country,” Modi said, adding banks obliged namdars because top executives were appointed by the same namdars. “Despite knowing that the loans would not be returned, banks lent money.”
Speaking at the launch of payments bank of the Indian postal department, he said, none of the 12 biggest defaulters, who between them account for over Rs 1.75 lakh crore in NPAs, were given loan by the present regime.
The Prime Minister said the country was cheated when the last government put such loan amount at Rs 2-2.5 lakh crore when it actually was Rs 9 lakh crore.
The Congress, however, rejected the charge, saying the NPAs have increased from 2.5 lakh crore in 2013-14 to 11.5 lakh crore as of now.
“Soaring NPAs and rising bank frauds will be Modi government’s economic legacy,” said Congress spokesperson Gourav Vallabh.
“Those who had borrowed loan during UPA rule were repaying it on time. They turned NPAs in the NDA tenure because there is no industrial growth, many business people have shut their industrial units, Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises sector has been destroyed and exports are at an all-time low,” he added.
Modi, meanwhile said when his government came to power in 2014,” we realised that the Congress had put India’s economy on a landmine”. He said his government has “defused” the landmine and its results have been witnessed in the 8.2 per cent GDP growth clocked in the first quarter of the current fiscal.
“I again want to assure that all the bank money which was stuck because of namdars, each and every rupee of that, we will recover. It will be used for the poor,” he said.
Listing out the steps taken, he said every loan of over ₹50 crore has been reviewed and it is being ensured that the rules are followed and recoveries made. The merger of banks has been proposed, professionalism was brought in banks, insolvency and bankruptcy code came and a law to deal with fugitive defaults introduced.
Modi said swift action to recover loans from the top 12 defaulters as well as another 27 who owe ₹1 lakh crore is being taken. “We will ensure that every penny is recovered,” he said.
Modi said Jan Dhan gave bank accounts to the unbanked and now the India Post Payments Bank is taking the bank to their doorstep. The postman, besides carrying mail, will also carry the bank to the doorsteps of poor and rural people, he said.