Nirmala Sitharaman's 13-Tweet Counter To Rahul Gandhi's 'RBI List' Attack
New Delhi: In a series of tweets late on Tuesday night, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman rebutted Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on his allegations on "wilful defaulters, bad loans and write-offs", calling them an attempt to "mislead people in a brazen manner" and sensationalise facts. "Wished Rahul Gandhi consulted Dr Manmohan Singh on what this writing off was about," she said in a 13-tweet retort around 11 pm.
"Rahul Gandhi, MP (LS), and Randeep Singh Surjewala, spokesperson of Congress, have attempted to mislead people in a brazen manner. Typical to Congress, they resort to sensationalising facts by taking them out of context," Ms Sitharaman tweeted.
Rahul Gandhi had attacked the ruling BJP after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) released a list of 50 wilful defaulters accused of cheating banks, saying the government had hidden the list from parliament because it included "friends" of the ruling party.
"I asked a simple question in parliament - tell me the names of 50 biggest bank scammers. Finance Minister refused to reply. Now RBI has put names of Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and other BJP friends in the list. This is why they hid the truth from parliament," the Congress MP had tweeted in Hindi along with a video.
Ms Sitharaman countered that between 2009-10 and 2013-14, scheduled commercial banks had written off Rs 1,45,226 crore.
She said provisions are made for Non-Performing Assets according to a four-year provisioning cycle laid down by the RBI. "Upon full provisioning being done, banks write-off the fully provided NPA but continue to pursue recovery against the borrower. No loan is waived off," she wrote.
"Those defaulters, who do not repay despite having the capacity to pay, divert or siphon-off funds, or dispose of secured assets without bank's permission are categorised as wilful defaulters. They are those well-connected promoters who benefitted from UPA's 'Phone banking'," Ms Sitharaman wrote.
She quoted Raghuram Rajan, who was RBI Governor when the Congress was in power.
"Useful to recall the words of Raghuram Rajan: A large number of bad loans originated in the period 2006-2008...Too many loans were made to well-connected promoters who have a history of defaulting on their loans...Public sector bankers continued financing promoters even while private sector banks were getting out. RBI could have raised more flags about the quality of lending..." Raghuram Rajan (said)... From 2015, PSBs (Public Sector Banks) were asked by the government to check all NPAs >50 crore for wilful default," Ms Sitharaman wrote.
Ms Sitharaman said it was the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government which was pursuing these wilful defaulters.
"9,967 recovery suits, 3,515 FIRs, invoking Fugitive Amendment Act in cases are on now. Total value of attachment and seizures in the cases of Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and Vijay Mallya: Rs 18,332.7 crore," she said.
"Bank-wise details of aggregate funded amount outstanding and amount technically/prudentially written off, pertaining to top fifty wilful defaulters was provided as an annex to the answer to Lok Sabha starred question *305 of Rahul Gandhi on 16.3.2020," the Finance Minister posted.
A list of borrowers flagged as wilful defaulters by Public Sector Banks (for borrowers with exposure of Rs 5 crore and above, global operations) was provided on November 18 last year in parliament, she said.
The Congress and Rahul Gandhi, Ms Sitharaman remarked, should introspect why they fail to play a constructive role in cleaning up the system.
"Neither while in power, nor while in the opposition has the Congress shown any commitment or inclination to stop corruption and cronyism," she concluded.
(Inputs and image from ndtv.com)