Rahul tarnishing govt.’s efforts to fill state coffers: Smriti Irani

Union Minister rebuts Congress MP’s allegation on asset monetisation

Union Minister Smriti Irani took on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi over his criticism of the government’s monetisation programme, stating that the opposition party was “upset” that India will make ₹6 lakh crore from that exercise. She reiterated that the Congress was trying to tarnish the Centre’s image for working to fill state coffers transparently while keeping them secure from the “robbers” of the opposition party.

In a personal attack, the Minister said: “This man’s (Rahul Gandhi) politics begins with hypocrisy, is sustained through arrogance and ends with contempt,” adding that the Congress leader on Tuesday displayed all of it.

She pointed out that the coalition government in Maharashtra, of which the Congress is a member, had monetised the Mumbai-Pune Expressway for ₹8,000 crore, asking if Mr. Gandhi’s charge meant it had sold the asset.

The UPA government at the Centre had floated an RFP in 2008 regarding the New Delhi Railway Station and started airport privatisation in 2006, Ms Irani said.

“Is this Rahul Gandhi’s allegation that a government whose mukhia (head) was his mother, had sold rail, road and airport,” the Minister asked.

On Mr Gandhi’s accusation that the Modi government was promoting a few select corporates and allegation that the country was heading towards “enslavement”, Ms. Irani shot back, saying “enslaved are those who, under a family rule, speak of breaking the country”, a reference to controversial comments on Kashmir and Pakistan by two advisors of Punjab Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu.

Asked about Mr. Gandhi’s claim that he had warned the government of the COVID-19’s dangers too, the BJP leader and Amethi MP said there was not even a district hospital and CT scanner in the constituency he represented for 15 years. Right from making PPE kits, the Modi government prepared the health infrastructure to deal with the crisis, she said.

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