‘Give proof on allegations against Navy’

Last Updated 26 March 2019, 19:29 IST

Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the coalition candidate Pramod Madhwaraj should be aware of the statements he makes.

Madhwaraj, being in a responsible position, should abide by the legitimacy of his claims, the minister stressed.

She was speaking to reporters in town on Tuesday.

‘Documents needed’

The minister questioned Pramod Madhwaraj’s accusation of the Indian Navy that it was responsible for the tragedy where seven fishermen had gone missing.

“If Madhwaraj comes up with documents to prove his claims, we would like to conduct an inquiry into the matter. We are always open to suggestions. Just throwing an allegation, however, on a sensitive matter like this, without having any proofs in hand will only add to the bitterness,” she clarified.

“We are all duty bound to give justice to the families,” she added.

The minister promised to intensify the search operations to trace the missing fishermen.

Sitharaman said that she had held a meeting with the fishermen’s association and had convinced them about the efforts taken by the government to search the missing fishermen on board the fishing boat Suvarna Tribhuja.

Meeting delayed

Meeting the fishermen’s families in the company of the Navy officials was delayed owing to the model code of conduct and the aerial strike.

She said that the scene in the houses of the fishermen was heart wrenching.

Elaborating over the programme introduced by the NDA government, Sitharaman said that the people had no alternative to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had proven his capabilities in various aspects during various situations.

Coming down heavily on the Mahagathbandhan and its prime ministerial candidate, the minister said that the candidate in the Opposition was a weak person with no respect for the ordinances passed by either his government or the other government.

‘No motive’

“He lacks knowledge of the politico of the country. The Mahagathbandhan is only a hilarious entity with no motive behind its formation,” she criticised.

She said that the Udupi – Chikmagalur Lok Sabha constituency had no Kendriya Vidyalaya, but is not assured of one by the NDA government.

“The Gems and Jewelry Institute set up in the region will provide employment to women from rural areas. A large number of exporters are being associated with the institute. It is also being certified by the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, the national institute of excellence. Atal Tinkering Labs have been opened in many schools and colleges in the three coastal districts of the state. The Nitte institute and the NITK have received innovation hubs,” the minister listed out.

Garibi Hatao

Sitharaman demanded that Rahul Gandhi clarify the ‘Garibi Hatao’ campaign taken up by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, as the real intention of the programme had not been realised.

The minister said that the minimum income guarantee scheme – or the NYAY scheme – announced by the Congress to eradicate poverty was ridiculous. “Poverty exists with the Congress assurances since decades and this is not the first time that they are addressing the social problem,” she criticised.

She refused to comment on the Rafale deal and the missing documents as the auditor general had already clarified the government’s stance in the court.

“It is subjudice to speak about the issue as the matter is in the Supreme Court. The copies have been taken away without any legality,” said the minister.

She, however, also declined to reply to a question on the leak of the documents.

She said it is important to have clean administration in the country.

She also said that Smriti Irani has stayed in Amethi and has worked in the constituency.

(Published 26 March 2019, 19:04 IST)

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