Making a pointed attack Saturday on Rahul Gandhi who has been repeatedly targeting the government and the Prime Minister over issues ranging from the farm laws to the disengagement at Pangong Tso, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman called the Congress leader the “Doomsday Man for India” and said he has been “continuously insulting Constitutionally elected authorities”, saying “things which will demean India” and has been building “fake narratives”.
Replying to the debate in Lok Sabha on the Union Budget, Sitharaman, responding to Gandhi’s remarks accusing the BJP-led government of crony capitalism and for following a ‘Hum Do, Hamare Do’ policy, Sitharaman hit back, saying the “cronies are hiding behind the party that was rejected by the people” and for the BJP government, the cronies are the “common people” of the country.
Targeting the Gandhi family without taking names, she said: “Hum Do, Hamare Do is this: We are two people taking care of the party and there are two other people… the daughter and the ‘damad’. We, the BJP government, don’t do that.”
Referring to the ‘damad’, she alleged that land had been snatched from small farmers in Rajasthan and Haryana under Congress rule at cheap prices. “Where are the cronies? They are hiding probably in the shadow of that party which has been rejected by the people. The shadows who were invited to even develop a port… they were invited. No open tenders, no global tenders,” she said.
Rahul Gandhi, she told the House, had been creating “fake narratives”, “humiliating India” and had “joined the break-India-image group”.
“The Opposition which has to raise questions on the government is doing this. I am scared that he has become the Doomsday Man for India… The tendencies of the Congress, in creating fake narratives and creating an institution to be misused by their cronies, makes it clear that their belief in the democratically elected Parliament is finished,” she said.
As she targeted Gandhi in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, some Congress MPs protested but others remained silent. When TMC MP Saugata Roy took exception to some of her remarks, Sitharaman asked him why he “shivered” before the Congress.
Slamming Gandhi for “violating constitutional proprieties” by not speaking on the Budget during the debate, she said she had ten questions for him.
“I want to ask him 10 questions, which I thought he would reply while ‘laying foundation’ for his Budget speech,” she said, taking a swipe at the Congress MP who had said he was “laying foundation” for the Budget debate by raising the issue of farmers.
She said she wanted to know from the Congress why it had taken a U-turn after taking a position on the APMCs in its 2019 election manifesto.
She said Gandhi had failed to explain why Congress governments in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh did not waive farm loans, as promised in their manifestos.
She asked why the Congress governments had not withdrawn the farm laws they called “black” and whether the Congress leader had asked the party governments to announce relief for farmers in their respective states.
“I thought after the Prime Minister spoke about the small farmers, he (Gandhi) would announce that he had told his brother-in-law to return the land he had snatched from small farmers. The Prime Minister quoted Dr Manmohan Singh. Why has the Congress forgotten Manmohan Singh’s remarks?” she said.
She said no APMC has been shut in any state. “Let him prove if any APMC is shut. The Budget makes a provision that Rs 30,000 crore, which will be collected through agri development infra cess, will be going to the states to improve the APMC infrastructure.”
Referring to Gandhi’s move to make his party members stand in silence to pay tribute to farmers during his speech Thursday, she asked why Gandhi, who in the past had torn an ordinance issued by the Congress-led UPA publicly, kept insulting constitutional authorities. “He is insulting everyone… whether President, Prime Minister or Speaker… constantly lying and insulting the country,” she said