New Delhi, March 8: Taking a dig at the UPA constituent parties, specially the Congress which leads it, regarding various issues, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday said corruption was one issue which did not figure against the Narendra Modi government.
He was speaking during a debate on the motion of thanks to the president’s address to the joint sitting of the parliament. Intervening during the debate in the Rajya Sabha, the minister replied point by point to almost all the charges made the opposition parties against the central government. During his intervention, he rebutted the charges levelled by the opposition parties against the NDA government.
“Earlier, the major issues would be corruption (during this kind of discussion),” he said. The Congress opposed him reminding him of corruption charges leveled against the Modi government. To the charges, the minister smilingly said that if not eliminated completely “it has actually come down”.
“Corruption no longer remains a major issue. It’s not a core concern anymore,” he added. Touching upon the issues raised by the opposition parties during the three-day long discussion, the minister commenting on the freedom of speech said that central government would oppose any voice against the country.
“We will oppose anybody who raises voice against the country in the name of freedom of speech,” he told the upper house. Jaitley said that he expects all mainstream political parties to oppose such voices. Clarifying the government’s stand on the issue of black money, the minister said that the government has been under fire on the issue.
He said that opposition would demand the names of defaulters to to be made public, which he said was not possible as it would alert them which could be harmful for the case. On this, leader of the opposition in the house, Ghulam Nabi Azad said that when the United Progressive Alliance was in power they (National Democratic Alliance) would demand the same from it.
The minister then went on to explain in the house how revealing names was not an answer as the cases are being filled against the defaulter, and the moment a case is registered everything about the person becomes public.
“We are proceeding in most of the cases. We will strictly follow the procedure,” the minister added, saying that what the government was offering to such persons was not an “amnesty scheme” as was being done by the Congress governments in the past. This attracted strong reaction from the Congress members.
“Ours is not the amnesty scheme. It calls for tax and 50 percent tax (on the black money),” he said. The minister also urged all parties to be united on the issues of national importance as the present times were difficult.
“When going is good, everybody is good at it,” but it’s difficult to progress when things are not smooth, the minister added urging all political parties to be united as global trade was shrinking and there were other issues which would need everyone to cooperate. Jaitley explained how larges share of profit in case of oil pricing going down in the international market was diverted to the common people.
“When oil prices went down, a large share (of profit) went to consumers,” he said, adding that second part of it went to oil companies as they bought oil for future on prevailing prices and when the price came down they had to sell that oil on the reduced prices. So some relief for them was needed for them.
Similarly, the minister touched upon issues of steel companies, sugar mills and the issue of tolerance. He also spoke about Ishrat Jahan encounter case and said the then UPA government did not file a case against the people involved as it wanted to “fix certain political leaders”.
The minister also criticised the UPA government for alleging that the Modi government was “undoing the work done by them”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will reply to the debate on Wednesday, Jaitley told the house. (IANS)