After having skipped the oath taking ceremony on Sunday, the Congress on Monday attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing him of inducting what it called “tainted” people in his council of ministers, a charge strongly rejected by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
The Congress also linked party president Sonia Gandhi and former PM Manmohan Singh’s absence with the frosty ties. Congress said the absence of its leaders at the ceremony cannot be seen in isolation, and indicated the worsening government-opposition ties which would reflect in Parliament.
“I don’t think this question should be asked to a party which has been denied Leader of the Opposition status in Lok Sabha. Rather this should be directed to their allies Shiv Sena and SAD… The ruling party also should do some self-introspection as to why such a situation has arisen,” AICC communication department head Ajay Maken said when asked about absence of party leaders at the ceremony.
The Congress targeted MoS for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Y S Chowdary. Maken claimed his Sujana Towers Ltd had defaulted on repayment of Rs 316.61 crore of loan with the Central Bank of India.
Jaitley rejected the charge as baseless. “They have said that TDP representative Y S Chowdary has Non-Performing Assets of his company. One of his many companies was making losses. One account was in difficulty. The bank restructured it; he is paying back all the instalments (and) has a regular account today,” he said.
He also rejected Maken’s charge that another minister Ram Shankar Katheria has 23 criminal cases registered against him. Katheria is an MP from Agra. Jaitley said under the Akhilesh Yadav government in Uttar Pradesh, “every BJP worker in the state has a criminal case filed against him.”
“These are cases arising out of political agitations. Not cases out of some crime or moral turpitude,” Jaitley said.
The Congress also said the reshuffle lacked rationale. “What happened to this government’s minimum government, maximum governance mantra. And the much-talked about synergy among related departments?” Maken asked. “If the ministers for Railways and Health were changed because of lack of performance or incompetence, it means the BJP Government has been a failure all this period,” Maken said.
Jaitley countered saying unlike during the Congress time, the PM now has the last word in the choice of the ministers. “He has chosen his team after checking the credentials and the facts related to each one of them”.