UPA pushed India into fragile five club: Sitharaman

New Delhi: Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman tore into the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government on Friday, saying it pushed the country into the Fragile Five and left it in dire straits in 2014 with its economic mismanagement by putting the “first family” first.

During the UPA regime, the security of the nation was compromised, environmental clearances were delayed, and the leadership failed as it was run by a “super prime minister” and there was at least one big-ticket corruption case every year.

Initiating the debate on the ‘White paper on Indian economy and its impact on the lives of people of India’, Sitharaman said it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi who put the nation first, pulling the country out of crisis and placing it among the top five economies of the world.

India is now on the way to becoming the third-largest economy, she said, adding that the NDA government will make India a developed nation (Viksit Bharat) by 2047.

Sitharaman said the white paper was a factual record for posterity.

UPA Put ‘First Family’ First: FM

The youth should know what efforts the Prime Minister has put in to restore the country’s past glory, said the FM, even as opposition members Saugata Roy of the Trinamool Congress Party and NK Premachandran of the Revolutionary Socialist Party moved substitute motions against the white paper.

On the need for the document being presented now, the finance minister said citizens as well as government officials would have been disillusioned had the white paper been released in 2015-16.

“Had we done that, no investors would have invested in India and if the truth of the economy was given out at that time, people would have lost faith,” Sitharaman said.

She said when the NDA government took over in 2014, there was a critical shortage of ammunition and defence equipment. Bullet-proof jackets and night goggles were not available for soldiers.

Sitharaman said the Commonwealth Games (CWG), held during the UPA regime, brought “bad name” to the country, but India’s G20 presidency under the Narendra Modi government had earned it global respect.

“When you don’t put the nation first, when you put your first family first, and when you have other considerations than transparency, the results are out there for you to see,” Sitharaman said. “So what happened after 2008 when there was a global financial crisis and what happened post-Covid shows clearly that if the intent of the government is sincere, results will be good.”

She said the Covid crisis was much “deadlier” than the global financial crisis of 2008, but the Modi government handled it with sincerity, transparency and dedication.

Further, the minister said the UPA government in 2008 did not have a “clean” intention.

“During the global financial crisis, the Congress did nothing to protect the interests of the nation and scandal after scandal continued to take place,” she said. “They left the nation in dire straits in 2014. God knows what would have happened had they continued.”

Referring to the coal scam during the UPA regime, she cited the Comptroller & Auditor General’s report to say that it resulted in a loss of Rs 1.86 lakh crore to the country. The Supreme Court had to cancel licences of 214 coal blocks, she pointed out.

The scam resulted in job losses, created coal shortages and power outages, she said, adding that investments too suffered.

On the other hand, the Modi government conducted auctions in a transparent manner and coal production had increased to 900 million tonnes from 567 million tonnes in 2014.

“You turned coal into ashes, but the Modi government, through its policies, turned coal into diamond,” she said, adding that the Congress is now shedding “crocodile tears” even though coal-bearing states had suffered revenue losses as a result of the scam during their time.

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Harry Byrne

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