Centre under fire on loan write-off for fugitive bizmen

Congress attacks Centre on loan write-off for fugitive businessmen

Nirmala Sitharaman file photo

A war of words broke out between the Congress and the Modi government over the “writing off” of bad loans over 50 wilful defaulters, including fugitive businessmen Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi.

While Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman accused the Congress of misleading the people in a “brazen manner” over wilful defaulters, bad loans and loan write-offs and asked Rahul Gandhi, who had targeted the government, to take tutorials in finance from former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram hit back at Sitharaman saying that he very well understood the difference between writing off loans and waivers, and sought to know why fugitive businessmen such as Mehul Choksi, Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya were given these concessions.

“Why does that technical rule apply in these three cases and the cases of others, who have been declared fugitives,” asked Chidambaram and demanded to know who was applying these rules.

“The Finance Minister was silent for the last 37 days. Suddenly sprung to life and sprung to the defence of these fugitives. Is it not a little surprising and ironic,” Chidambaram said.

Congress chief spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala said till April 24, Rs 68,607 crore have been written off by the government.

“The Prime Minister cannot evade this question by keeping silent,” Surjewala said.

The Congress said Rahul Gandhi had asked this question in Parliament, but the government did not respond. “But now an RTI has revealed the magnitude of the waiver,” he said.