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‘Sensationalising Facts’: Late at Night, Sitharaman Issues 13-Tweet Rebuttal to Rahul Gandhi’s ‘RBI List’ Attack

File photo of Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

File photograph of Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Rahul Gandhi had attacked the ruling BJP after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) launched a listing of 50 wilful defaulters accused of dishonest banks.

  • Last Updated: April 29, 2020, 11:16 AM IST

New Delhi: Rahul Gandhi’s assault on Centre over RBI’s checklist of 50 financial institution defaulters appears to have enraged Union finance ministry Nirmala Sitharaman, who in a sequence of late night time tweets slammed the Congress chief for “misleading people in a brazen manner by sensationalising facts”. She even suggested Gandhi to take session from former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on points associated to finance.

“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,” Sitharaman tweeted round 11pm on Tuesday.

Gandhi had attacked the ruling BJP after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) launched a listing of 50 wilful defaulters accused of dishonest banks. These 50 defaulters included the businesses of absconding diamantaire Mehul Choksi and fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya.

“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 together with a video.

Sitharaman countered that between 2009-10 and 2013-14, scheduled industrial banks had written off Rs 1,45,226 crore.

She stated provisions are made for Non-Performing Assets in line with 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 energy.

“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 (stated)… From 2015, PSBs (Public Sector Banks) have been requested by the federal government to test all NPAs >50 crore for wilful default,” Ms Sitharaman wrote.

The finance minister then went into the circumstances of Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and Vijay Mallya.

Sitharaman stated it was the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led authorities 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 stated.

“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 FM wrote.

Sitharaman additionally talked about {that a} checklist of “borrowers flagged as wilful defaulter by Public Sector Banks under CRILIC reporting as on September 30, 2019 (for borrowers with exposure of Rs 5 crore and above, global operations) was provided”, on November 18, 2019, within the Lok Sabha.

The finance minister said that Congress and Gandhi ought to introspect why they fail to play a constructive function in cleansing 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,” Sitharaman additional said.

Reacting to Sitharaman’s retort within the morning, Randeep Surjewala accused her of twisting info and talked about a listing of questions that he stated the Centre ought to reply.

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