New Delhi [India]: Trinamool Congress MP Sougata Roy on Friday hit out at Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who criticised the UPA government over a range of the issues, saying that she should 'apologise' first for the demonetization, brought in 2016 by it which led to countrywide hardship.
During a debate on the 'White Paper on the Indian economy and its impact on the lives of people of India' in the Lok Sabha, Roy said that the government 'failed' to fulfil their promise to stop terror funding with demonetization.
"The Finance Minister should have apologized first for the demonetization. They (The government) had said that all the black money would return with this... You used to say that terrorist funding is coming from Pakistan, and we will stop this, but nothing happened. 150 people died after demonetization standing in the line of banks. The government did not apologise for this and now they are giving a speech. They are saying they are against corruption, I want to ask where is Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksy, and Vijay Mallya. You have a law of fugitive economic offenders, When Arun Jaitley was Finance Minister he brought this law..." he said.
On November 8, 2016, the Indian government had introduced the new Rs 2,000 currency notes following the demonetisation of the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 banknotes as a step against the accumulation and circulation of black money in the country.
However, while the Narendra Modi government on Thursday tabled a white paper in the Lok Sabha, detailing how it had restored the health of the Indian economy from the "fragile state" that it had inherited from the UPA years, the document makes no mention of its demonetization exercise.
Roy further listed the achievements of the UPA government that was not, however, 'all good' according to him.
"Our Party was part of UPA from 2009-12 when the coal scam came out, our party decided to quit the government. We kept ourselves away. We wanted everything would be counted for demonetization...I do not say that everything was good in the UPA, but it brought MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) for the poor.
You should show what you have done for the poor. UPA brought the National Food Security Act for free food and also the right to information... UPA government brought Adhar in 2006 and when 2008 when the whole world was struggling in the economic sector, our banking system confronted that. There is no one in the present government who can control all these," the TMC MP said.
Coming down heavily on the Centre led by the NDA government over the actions on the Opposition leaders by the central agencies, Sougata Roy claimed that no leaders have been convicted so far in any case.
"Economic reforms have been halted in this government. This government only take the help of ED and CBI. I want to ask, whether a single conviction has been done in any scams. It's been ten years, what were you doing? They are only raiding the Opposition with the help of ED and CBI. They only run their government with the help of ED and CBI... Modi ji ke do bhai, ED and CBI," he said.
He further took a swipe at the Centre led by the NDA government and said that it has 'halted' the economic reforms that took place by the UPA government.
He also referred to the scams, mentioned the White Paper and said, "Raghuram Rajan who had reviewed the asset quality, if he had not done this, the banking system would have collapsed, but they (NDA) did not let him last because he was a noble person. Hindenburg report came out about Adani, but the government did not say anything about the report.
They talk about the deals in defence. I want to ask why the government does not put forth the scam in the Rafale. They talk about the Saradha Chit Fund scam, but the one who was the biggest beneficiary in the scam is one the CM of Assam and is a close aide of Modi."
He also took a jibe at Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and said that she 'does not have knowledge of economics as she is not an economist'.
"This government does not consist of a single world-class economist as the UPA had Dr Manmohan Singh. The finance minister is also not an economist; she does not have the knowledge about this. GST has disrupted existing trading structure," he said.
Roy also criticized the Union Finance Minister for not mentioning the employment rate in the country in the government's White Paper.
"The Finance Minister did not mention about the rampant unemployment. She did not say that around 30000 farmers and agricultural labourers have committed suicide and did not say that women's participation in the workplace is so low... What is the latest inflation figure in this government? Retail inflation stands at 25.69 per cent in December 2023.
India's GDP grew at on the average of 5.6 per cent, but the growth rate of the country was higher from 2002-2010 at 6 per cent."
"India's unemployment is very high compared to the pre-pandemic. In the youths (15-34) years, is 45.4 per cent. Women's participation in the labor force fell from 25 per cent to 24 pc in 2022. We are lower than regional neighbours like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan," the TMC MP added.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented a "white paper" on the Indian economy in Parliament on Thursday. The document, which has been prepared by the Ministry of Finance, essentially compares the 10-year record of economic governance under the Congress-led UPA governments (between 2004-05 and 2013-14) with the 10-year record of the BJP-led NDA governments (between 2014-15 and 2023-24).
Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday lambasted the previous Congress-led UPA government for its mismanagement of the economy saying the party put "family first" and left the country in "dire straits" in 2014, but it is now lecturing the Modi government on handling the economy.