Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Criticizes Sonia Gandhi’s Leadership During UPA Era

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New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman launched a scathing attack on the Congress party, particularly former president Sonia Gandhi, accusing her of acting as a “super Prime Minister” and holding the key role in the economic mismanagement during the UPA government’s tenure. Sitharaman made these remarks during her response in the Lok Sabha to the discussion on the white paper on the Indian economy.

In her address, Sitharaman asserted that the white paper did not contain baseless allegations and all the information presented was based on evidence. She blamed the UPA government’s mismanagement and corruption-driven ten-year rule on the lack of clear leadership, referring to it as a “rudderless and leaderless government.” According to Sitharaman, Sonia Gandhi operated as the “Super Prime Minister” through her role as the Chairperson of the National Advisory Council (NAC), which had unaccountable and unconstitutional powers.

The Finance Minister questioned the necessity for files to go through an unaccountable body for approval, referring to the NAC. She highlighted instances of the NAC, comprising individuals referred to as “andolan jivis” (protest enthusiasts), preparing legislations, including the Right to Food and the Right to Information.

Sitharaman criticized Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for tearing up an ordinance in a press conference during Dr. Manmohan Singh’s tour, stating that it was disrespectful to the country’s Prime Minister. She also accused the UPA government of compromising national security and causing delays in environmental clearances for projects.

Turning to the defence sector, Sitharaman pointed out glaring mismanagement during the UPA government, emphasizing the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland scam. She highlighted a critical shortage of ammunition and defence equipment in 2014, which the current government inherited.

Sitharaman defended the Modi government’s efforts, stating that dedicated ten years of work had put the economy back on track. She focused on corrections to misgovernance and reforms, emphasizing a more than doubling of the defence budget to Rs 6.22 lakh crore for fiscal 2024-25.

Responding to allegations that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has become a tool for the government, Sitharaman claimed that under the Modi government, the ED has been given independence to pursue cases under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The Finance Minister also provided a comparative analysis of conviction, restitution, extradition, and red corner notices between the UPA and NDA governments, citing significant improvements under the Modi government. She highlighted achievements such as the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) schemes, job creation, reduction in average environment clearance time, and substantial savings through Aadhaar-authenticated Direct Benefit Transfers (DBT).

In her concluding remarks, Sitharaman emphasized that the Modi government prioritizes the nation, focusing on sincerity, transparency, and putting the country first. She contrasted this approach with what she referred to as the UPA’s prioritization of the family and other considerations over transparency and national interest.

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