Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Sunday attacked Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh over his family’s alleged foreign accounts and also took a dig at Aam Aadmi Party, which he said was more interested in creating controversies than running the government.
The BJP leader said under the Modi government the country is firmly moving ahead on the path of development and claimed that the Congress was constantly “shrinking” across the country.
With Amarinder accusing him of “using” the Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax department to target him and his family and also “challenging” him to prove the allegations, Jaitley hit back, saying the facts on the ground spoke otherwise.
“I recall when there was Congress government in Punjab in 2002 led by Capt Amarinder Singh, he used to cook up stories about the Badal family, claiming they have land in Australia, petrol pump in America, besides levelling other charges. He failed to prove the allegations which he levelled, but we have found accounts of Capt Sahib’s family,” Jaitley said addressing ‘Vikas Parv’ rally in the Malwa region of Punjab organised to mark the completion of NDA government’s two years in office.
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Jaitley hit out at Amarinder, to whom he had lost the 2014 Lok Sabha polls from Amritsar for claiming that his family has been wrongly framed.
“The information about (bank) accounts in Switzerland was given to the Indian government was given for the first time by the French authorities. This information was provided by France in 2011 when UPA was in power whereas Modi ji’s government came to power in 2014.
“Under the Congress government, when current President (Pranab Mukherjee) was the Finance Minister, the information about Capt’s family account came out,” he said.
In a dig at Amarinder, who has often charged Jaitley with trying to settle “political scores” since his defeat in Amritsar, Jaitley said, “We never advised you to open accounts in foreign countries.”
He accused the previous Congress-led UPA government of going slow in the alleged case involving the former Punjab chief minister’s family.
“When they learnt that this information can hurt the Congress, the previous government slowed down on this issue, even though they wrote one or two letters. But we have procured all the documents pertaining to the incomplete file,” he said.
“And why they took your family’s name? They could have said that the accounts are of Akali Dal or BJP people. They didn’t take our names,” said Jaitley.
Hitting out at AAP, Jaitley said people in Delhi are “repenting” voting it to power.
“Recently, elections took place for 13 municipal seats. They had got 54 per cent votes in Assembly (polls), which dropped to 29 per cent within one year,” he said.
Jaitley accused the AAP of indulging in false propaganda and creating controversies in the national capital, while being “least concerned” about running of the government in Delhi, which he said was easier to administer than Punjab.
He said it is very difficult to run Punjab because it was a border state. They (SAD-BJP) keep struggling about how to build highways, how to improve infrastructure, how to make people’s lives better, he said.
On the other hand, running Delhi City, where central government pumps in a lot of money for development works, is very easy, he claimed.
“If Delhi government does just 5-7 per cent of its job, the administration will run smoothly. But what is their (AAP’s) agenda? It is not to run government, they want to create controversy in one way or the other,” Jaitley alleged.
With Punjab going to polls early next year, Jaitley said the state has to be “saved” from the type of politics practised by the AAP.
Speaking in chaste Punjabi, Jaitley cautioned the people against voting for those who indulge in “creating controversies”.
“On one side we have the Centre and the state government which were changing the map of development in the country and on other side people who are creating controversies,” Jaitley said and asked people to vote for SAD-BJP combine in the next assembly polls.
Lashing out at the previous UPA government, the Union minister alleged that there was “huge corruption” during the Congress-led regime.
“If we see the last two years (of the NDA) and the 10 years of Congress government, the first difference we will see is that the Parliament sessions during Congress time started and ended only on corruption. There was huge corruption which was unexplainable.
“But in two years of our rule, corruption word has been eliminated from government’s language. Nobody can point a finger at the Centre’s working now,” he said.
He also raised a question mark over Congress’ prospects in the assembly polls slated for next year in several states.
“We are in government at the Centre. NDA has almost 340 seats in Lok Sabha. People used to say you won’t touch 200. But BJP alone has 282 seats. There are 15 such states which are ruled by NDA.
“… and where has the Congress reached? It has 44 seats in Lok Sabha. They have governments in six states. Five are hilly states, (out of which) three are in North-East, in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Karnataka. There are elections in these three states next year and which will be retained by the Congress, there is a question mark on that,” he said.
However, Jaitley admitted it was a challenging time for SAD and BJP ahead of the assembly polls next year.
“I am of the belief that (upcoming) 6-8 months are a challenging time for SAD and BJP,” he said and asked party workers to put in efforts to bring SAD-BJP to power for the third straight time in the state.
Jaitley said, “We should learn that history has given a chance to NDA, BJP and SAD. The whole country has now faith in us, (whereas) the Congress is shrinking.”
He said, “In Kerala and West Bengal, where our party was non-existent, we are getting support from there. We have formed government in Assam. If we start from Kashmir, most of the states are with NDA.”
“In Punjab also, Congress will shrink as it is losing support across the country,” he claimed.
He noted that in Punjab, barring Chandigarh and Amritsar, air connectivity was poor and said, “It is essential to connect any state with the rest of India for its progress.”
“Another problem of this area is hospitals. Punjab government has decided that an AIIMS will be set up in Bathinda and in next 8-10 days, the Expenditure department under the Finance Ministry will approve it and the whole cost will be borne by the Centre,” he said.
Jaitley said it was former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who first proposed construction of 4-6 lane highways.
When we formed the government in 2014, we came to know that the highway department was totally shut,” he said.
“Now, 10,000-km of highways are being built in one year in the country. Today 250 highway projects are under progress” he claimed.
He said the government has carried out various development projects for agriculture, loan to small traders and had even raised the devolution of funds to state by 2-3 times, enabling them to carry out development projects.
Jaitley also lauded Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal and state ministers for changing the economy of Punjab.
“I have no hesitation in saying that coming to Doaba, to Majha was very easy, but it was somewhat difficult to reach Bathinda in Malwa. But today, there are Bathinda-Chandigarh and Bathinda-Amritsar highways and Sukbir is talking about Bathinda-Delhi highway,” he said.
“Black money has been reduced, corruption has been reduced and other countries have started placing their confidence in India and have started investing in India,” she said.
Harsimrat, the local MP, also asked the Finance Minister to make the airport at Bathinda operative at the earliest.