‘People make PMs’: FM Sitharaman slams Congress MP over Charan Singh remark | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

‘People make PMs’: FM Sitharaman slams Congress MP over Charan Singh remark

ByRajeev Jayaswal
Feb 11, 2024 12:07 AM IST

The comments were part of the FM’s response on the discussion on a White Paper on the economy that the government presented to parliament on Thursday.

New Delhi Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday said it is the people who make Prime Ministers as she snubbed Congress leader KC Venugopal for saying in Rajya Sabha that Chaudhary Charan Singh --- awarded the Bharat Ratna by the government on Friday --- was made PM by his party.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman speaks in the Rajya Sabha on the last day of the Budget Session of Parliament. (ANI)
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman speaks in the Rajya Sabha on the last day of the Budget Session of Parliament. (ANI)

The comments were part of the minister’s response on the discussion on a White Paper on the economy that the government presented to parliament on Thursday, triggering a blame game between the treasury and opposition benches, with the latter alleging the exercise was with a political motive.

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In particular, Sitharaman hit back at Congress’s Venugopal for his remarks on the Bharat Ratna decision. “Who made Charan Singh PM was the observation by KC Venugopal ji. People make PMs. I hope the Congress party is not living in a myth that they make PM, they throw PM, they bring in PM, they reject PM. No, people have rejected the Congress,” Sitharaman said.

The attack was in continuation with Sitharaman’s criticism of the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government, which the White Paper describes as having mismanaged the economy.

Venugopal accused the Modi government of using the Bharat Ratna award for political ends and the Congress leader said that while the award is announced by the government now, it was what was then the Congress (I) that backed Singh to become PM about 45 years ago.

Read more: White paper debate: Nirmala Sitharaman blasts Congress-led UPA regime, says ‘brought economy…’

Sitharaman responded, saying: “In 1979, Indira Gandhi’s Congress decided to support Chaudhary Charan Singh ji and within 24 days he resigned as the Prime Minister. Why? Indira Gandhi’s Congress withdrew support from him,” Sitharaman said. “Charan Singh ji said that he resigned because he wasn’t ready to be ‘blackmailed’ into withdrawing cases against Indira Gandhi. Those cases were done against her after the Emergency,” she added.

The minister also responded to opposition’s questions around the timing of the White Paper --- the parties have said that it was released to coincide with the campaigning for the general elections later this summer --- and said Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided not to make the poor state of the economy public as it would have affected the confidence of institutions, investors and the people at large.

Explaining the purpose of tabling the White Paper in the Parliament, Sitharaman said: “Why now? There should be a record for our posterity.” She said future generation must also learn that they need to have honest, transparent and accountable governance and should not have governance which is extra-constitutional.

On Friday in Lok Sabha, the FM said that the 10-year rule of the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government suffered from a “leadership problem” as an “extra-constitutional” body – the National Advisory Council (NAC) headed by Congress president Sonia Gandhi — ran the government.

The minister said that when the Modi government took over in 2014, it adopted a two-track approach to accelerate growth: taking forward reforms pending since 1991 and initiating new reforms. “So, that is the track which we laid for ourselves” she said, adding that India has become the fifth largest economy of the world and it will become the third soon.

Read more: Nirmala Sitharaman attacks Manmohan Singh's UPA policies, blames ‘leadership problem’

Citing a proverb in Tamil, that translates to “when a piece of cloth falls on thorny bushes, one must extricate it carefully and delicately, she said: “The economy was like a piece of cloth on the thorny bush…”

“Straightaway we got into action. That’s why the first cabinet decision in 2014 was -- one to form a SIT to remove the black money, and second was an Expenditure Reform Commission under Bimal Jalan Ji, just so that all profligate expenditures of the earlier government could be rationalised,” she said.

Earlier, Congress leader Venugopal said the White Paper was brought by the Modi government to hide the “dark truths” of the economy, such as rising unemployment, inflation, farmers’ stress and destruction of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) due to demonetisation.

He questioned the government for not mentioning issues like impact of demonetisation in the White Paper. “This is actually not a white paper, this is a paper which is hiding the dark truths of this country,” he said. “You will use Bharat Ratna for political purposes,” he said. He, however, praised all the recipients of the highest civilian award.

In her reply, Sitharaman said the Modi government has kept inflation under check by also taking care of the supply side, something, she added, was never focused upon during the UPA regime. “A group of ministers is monitoring prices of essential items every week,” she said adding that quick interventions take place to keep prices of essential commodities low.

She said the UPA government mismanaged the price situation after inheriting lower than 4% inflation from the Vajpayee government in 2004. “Gur ko gobar karna inki maastaree hai [They have a mastery of eroding values already created],” she said.

According to Sitharaman, MSMEs have flourished during the Modi’s regime as there are 3.16 crore (31.6 million) registered units in the Udhyam portal and out of that 1.17 crore (11.7 million) are run by woman entrepreneurs, she said.

On the criticism of jobless growth, she said unemployment rate for graduates has declined from 17.3% 2017 to 13.4% in 2023.

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