Nirmala Sitharaman lashes out at Congress over ‘remote control’ jibe

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sithraman on Friday attacked the Congress party for passing comments on the Central government’s policies for being “remote-controlled”, saying “this comes from a party where there is no party democracy and the policy was decided in 10 Janpath”.

Citing the comment passed by a Congress member, Sitharaman, while participating in the General Budget discussion, said “a member said our policies are remote-controlled from somewhere, including Nagpur”.

“This comes from a party where there is no party democracy and the policy was decided in 10 Janpath and announced in 7, LKM (Lok Kalyan Marg),” the Finance Minister said.

She later on reminded “one cannot forget that one general secretary tore a Bill in public”.

“The respected Prime Minister Dr. was going to meet the US president after two hours… Is that remote control or what is that?” said Sitharaman.

She also hit out the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) on Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), stating the scheme was “infested with ghost accounts and turned out to be a source of corruption at that time”.

“MGNREGA was an act because of them (UPA), but I would like to say that MGNREGA’s misuse was also because of them. MGNREGA was infested with ghost accounts, its misuse was also to their credit,” Sitharaman said.

The Minister said MGNREGA is a demand-driven program, meant to provide employment during the lean season of agriculture.

“It is one thing to create a scheme, it is one thing to misuse a scheme, whereas what we are doing now create and use it properly and transparently,” Sitharaman said.

The attack led to an uproar from the Opposition in the Upper House.

Responding to a question that an increase in allocation of Urban Affairs is meant to support the Central Vista project, Sitharaman made it clear that the increase in the Housing ministry Budget is “not for Central Vista but for PM Awas Yojana-Urban”.

On employment, the Minister said over 7 lakh crores are being spent on infrastructure to create jobs.

For 2022-23, Sitharaman said the allocation is Rs 1 lakh crore to assist the states in capitalizing overall investments in the economy for 50 years without any interest burden.

“Keeping in mind states and their difficulties, in November 2021, we ensured an advance installment of devolution is given to them to double their cash in hand,” said the Minister.

On Cryptocurrency, Sithraman said: “I just want to say the act of taxing the cryptocurrencies…We have taxed the profit emanating from the transactions. I am not doing anything to legalize it or ban it or regulate it. But then would you rather have me not tax them and then tell me that I didn’t take corrective action”.

Legitimate or illegitimate is a different question, but I will tax as that is our sovereign right, said the Minister.

The first part of the budget session is being held from January 31 to February 11 and the second part will take place from March 14 to April 8.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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