‘Clown prince’ vs ‘court jester’: BJP-Congress spat gets uglier

‘Clown prince’ vs ‘court jester’: BJP-Congress spat gets uglier

New Delhi, Sep 20 (IANS) The war of words between the BJP and the Congress over the Rafale deal and bank NPAs got uglier on Thursday with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley calling Congress President a “clown prince” and in turn getting dubbed a “court jester” by the grand old party.

Countering Congress’ relentless attack on the Narendra Modi government over the France-made jets and bad loans of banks, Jaitley took to the social media to accuse Gandhi of “concocting lies” on the twin issues and blamed him for “polluting” public discourse.

“His strategy is simple, concoct a lie and repeat it as many times as possible,” said Jaitley dismissing as false Gandhi’s claims of Prime Minister Modi waiving off Rs 250,000 crore of 15 industrialists.

“The world’s largest democracy must seriously introspect whether public discourse should be allowed to be polluted by the falsehood of a ‘clown prince’,” he wrote.

Jaitley said the amount referred to by Gandhi was lent by the banks prior to 2014 during the UPA regime, which then “kept rolling over the loans to conceal them (as) loans despite the default”.

“The truth is that your government allowed the banks to be looted,” alleged Jaitley.

The Congress lost no time in getting back at the Finance Minister.

“Jaitley is desperate in his attempt to stay relevant as a court jester to Modi Sultanate. Abuse, diversion and deception are the desperate tools of a ‘Lying -Jait-LIE’,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said in a statement.

The Congress demanded Jaitley to coherently answer politically-relevant issues instead of “hiding behind the cloak of expletives for the opposition”.

It posed 10 questions to Jaitley on the “Rafale scam” that include as to why Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) was “superseded” for Rs 30,000-crore contract to benefit cronies, why transfer of technology was “sacrificed” and why “national security was compromised” by reducing the number of aircraft from 126 to 36.

“Since your answers to the 10 questions are zero, cuss words are your only refuge,” said the party which has been gunning for the Modi government over the Rafale deal which according to the party has caused “loss” to the exchequer and “endangered” national security.

Besides approaching Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) Rajiv Mehrishi for a special and forensic audit and demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the deal, the Congress has also sought the resignation of Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman over the issue.

Alleging Modi government’s “collusion with bank looters”, the Congress also posed five questions on the issue of surging bank NPAs (non-performing assets).

Countering Jaitley assertions of NPAs being a UPA legacy, the Congress pointed to Finance Ministry’s July 2018 reply in Parliament claiming “NPA’s stood at Rs 2,51,054 crore when demitted power and they have increased to a whopping Rs 9,61,962 crore by March 2018. NPA’s now stand at Rs 12,00,000 crore”.

Wondering if Jaitley lied in his blogpost or in Parliament, the Congress dared him to publicly state the amount of loans given in the last 52 months of the Modi government along with details as to how much of those loans have become NPAs.

“How much worth of loans were ever-greened and restructured. How much worth of loans became defaults and wilful defaults. How many wilful defaulters escaped from India and with how much amount of money during 52 months of Modi government?” the party said.

“How many economic offenders, defaulters and looters did you bring back to India and jailed?” the party said yet again attacking Jaitley over his “meeting” with now fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya.

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