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Updated February 9th, 2024 at 22:05 IST

'Released White Paper on UPA Only After Making India 5th Largest Economy': Sitharaman in Lok Sabha

Challenging the "baseless" allegations on White Paper, Sitharaman said, "From SC to CAG, we have documentary evidence of everything."

Digital Desk
Nirmala Sitharaman
Nirmala Sitharaman | Image:ANI
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New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said that in a bid to correct all misgovernance that happened under the UPA regime, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi government has pushed reforms and removed all the hurdles. Addressing the Lok Sabha, Sitharaman said, "We could have released the White Paper when we came to power in 2014. Had we done that, no investors would have invested in India. If the truth of our economy was given out at that time, people would have lost faith." Sitharaman said that the BJP government first focused on cleaning the system before releasing the White Paper on misgovernance under Congress. "From the fragile situation we were in, we have become the fifth largest economy in the world.

Challenging the "baseless" allegations on White Paper, Sitharaman said, "We have documentary evidence of everything. The White Paper has quoted Supreme Court, CAG and the statements of the Congress leaders...There was one big ticket corruption every year."

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Stating that the national security was "compromised" under UPA rule, Sitharaman said, "...National security - Critical shortage of ammunition and defence ammunition was the main feature of 2014 when we inherited the economy...Bulletproof jackets were not available for our soldiers...Night vision goggles were not available, so in the night they couldn't do a thing and were exposing themselves like sitting ducks in pitch darkness...". Stating the "Modi government more than doubled defence budget to Rs 6.22 lakh crore for FY25 from Rs 2.53 lakh crore in 2013-14."

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Seeking clarity over a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Manmohan Singh government in China, Sitharaman asked, “Glaring mismanagement of defence issue by Congress, I am adding one more issue to this. So much of defence mismanagement can't be done, there is some other issue behind it. We don't know what is that 'other issue'. But, I would like to ask - in 2008, an MoU was signed in China. What was that about? Why hasn't it come to light to this day?”

"Leadership was at the heart of UPA's mismanagement and corruption-driven 10 years of government. The central problem point during UPA era was a rudderless and leaderless government. Sonia Gandhi acted as the 'Super Prime Minister' as Chairperson of the NAC. NAC had unaccountable and unconstitutional powers. Why did files go to such an unaccountable and unanswerable body for approval?" Sitharaman asked.

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She said the 'andolan jivis' who were members of the NAC used to prepare legislations, including Right to Food and Right to Information. "Should that be acceptable to the members of Parliament?"

"When Dr Manmohan Singh was on a tour, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tore up the ordinance in a press conference. Wasn't that insulting the country's Prime Minister? He (Rahul Gandhi) didn't care for his own Prime Minister," she said.

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Sitharaman also said under the UPA government there was "glaring mismanagement of defence" sector and its highlight was the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland scam.

"Critical shortage of ammunition & defence equipment was the main feature of 2014 when we inherited the economy. Bullet proof jackets were not available for our soldiers. Night vision goggles were not available," Sitharaman said.

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She said 'Jayanti Tax' during the UPA tenure delayed environment clearances for projects up to a year.

The average time to clear projects increased to 316 days from 86 days between 2011 and 2014.

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She said 10 years of dedicated efforts of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government have put the economy back on rails.

"We corrected all misgovernance, and focussed on reforms," Sitharaman said, adding the average environment clearance time for projects has come down to 70 days.

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The minister said big-ticket corruptions during the UPA tenure averaged one each year and common people were disillusioned.

The Modi government more than doubled defence budget to Rs 6.22 lakh crore for fiscal 2024-25, from Rs 2.53 lakh crore in 2013-14, she added.

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Responding to members' allegation that Enforcement Directorate (ED) has become a government tool, Sitharaman said under Modi government ED has been given "independence" to pursue cases under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Giving a comparative analysis of the conviction, restitution, extradition and red corner notices issued during UPA versus NDA governments, she said the number was zero during the Congress-led government.

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During the Modi regime, she said ED filed 1,200 prosecution cases and recovered Rs 16,333 crore and convicted 58 people.

Also, 24 RCNs were issued, 12 offenders were declared fugitives and Rs 906.74 crore recovered from fugitive economic offenders.

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(With inputs from PTI)
 

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Published February 9th, 2024 at 18:58 IST

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