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UPA put 'family first', left India in 'dire straits' in 2014: Nirmala Sitharaman

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Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman speaks in the Lok Sabha during the Budget session of Parliament, in New Delhi

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman speaks in the Lok Sabha during the Budget session of Parliament, in New Delhi

New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday lambasted the previous Congress-led UPA government for its mismanagement of the economy saying the party put "family first" and left the country in "dire straits" in 2014, but it is now lecturing the Modi government on handling the economy.

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Initiating the debate on the 'White Paper on Indian economy and its impact on the lives of people of India' in the Lok Sabha, Sitharaman said the Modi government put "nation-first", and took the economy from 'fragile five' to 'top five'.

India is now on the way to become the third largest global economy, she said.

Amid constant bickering by the Congress members, Sitharaman said the White Paper is for record of posterity and the youth should know what efforts Prime Minister Narendra Modi has put in to restore India's past glory.

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"Ten years of one government with some crisis and 10 years of a different government with a different crisis. The comparison shown in this 'White Paper' clearly says how if the government handles it with true sincerity, transparency and putting the nation first, the results are there for everybody to see," Sitharaman said.

She also said, "When you don't put the nation first, when you put your first family first, and when you have other consideration than transparency, the results are out there for you to see. So what happened after 2008 when there was a global financial crisis and what happened post-Covid shows clearly that if the intent of the government is sincere, results will be good."

The minister, in a spirited speech that was interrupted by the opposition members, said the Covid crisis was much "deadlier" than the global financial crisis of 2008, but the Modi government handled it with sincerity, transparency and dedication providing free vaccines to people.

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Further, the minister said UPA government in 2008 did not have a "clean" intention in dealing with the crisis.

"During the global financial crisis, Congress did nothing to protect the interest of nation and scandals after scandals continued to take place. They left the nation in dire straits in 2014. God knows what would have happened had they continued...They were unable to save the Indian economy. Those who could not handle the global financial crisis are now lecturing us how to deal with a crisis... ," she said.

Referring to the coal scam during UPA, she cited the CAG report to say that it resulted in a huge loss of Rs 1.86 lakh crore to the country and the Supreme Court had to cancel licences of 214 coal blocks.

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The coal scam resulted in job losses, created coal shortage and power outages, she said, adding that investments too suffered.

On the other hand, the Modi government conducted coal auctions in a transparent manner and now coal production has increased to 900 MT from 567MT in 2014.

"You turned coal into ashes, but the Modi government through its policies turned coal into diamonds," she said, adding that the Congress is now shredding "crocodile tears" even though coal bearing states had suffered revenue losses as a result of the scam during their time.

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Having given coal mines to the family members, friends and even a gutkha company, Sitharaman said "they (Congress) are now giving us lecture on crony capitalism".

She also said that India witnessed the Commonwealth Games scam during UPA rule which brought "bad name" to the country, whereas G20 hosted by the Modi government was appreciated and lauded across the world.

With respect to the banking sector, Sitharaman said the practice of phone banking during UPA time led to an increase in bad loans.

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The Modi government took a host of decisions and now the Non Performing Assets (NPAs) of public sector banks have declined to 3.2 per cent and their profitability has soared to Rs 1.08 lakh crore.

Opposition members Saugata Roy (TMC) and N K Premchandran (RSP) objected to the discussion on the White Paper asserting that it was an attempt to defame the previous UPA government.

On repeated interruptions by the Opposition members, Sitharaman said "if you have the courage, you should not interrupt my speech... give a reply".

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