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Facing Oppn criticism on Budget, Sitharaman mocks Rahul Gandhi over ‘poverty a state of mind’ remark

Speaking in the Rajya Sabha, Sitharaman, without naming Gandhi, referred to the Congress leader's remarks on poverty to counter the criticism from Opposition leaders, including former finance minister P Chidambaram, that the Budget left out the poor.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: February 11, 2022 4:48:58 pm
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman speaks in the Rajya Sabha, during the ongoing Budget Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Friday, Feb. 11, 2022. (SANSAD TV/PTI Photo)

Hitting back at former Congress president Rahul Gandhi for his allegation that the Union Budget 2022-23 did not have enough for the poor, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday recalled the Wayanad MP’s 2013 comment of “poverty being a state of mind”, and mocked him asking if that was the poverty she was supposed to address.

Speaking during the discussion on the Budget in the Rajya Sabha, Sitharaman, without naming Gandhi, referred to the Congress leader’s remarks on poverty to counter the criticism from Opposition leaders, including former finance minister P Chidambaram, that the Budget left out the poor.

“Please be clear, is this the poverty that you wanted me to address, the poverty of mind?” she asked.

The finance minister also mentioned that her Budget would bring stability to the economy and has measures to create jobs.

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As Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi protested that Sitharaman was mocking the poor, the FM said: “I am not mocking the poor people. The person who had mocked the poor people, you are in alliance with his party.”

Amid repeated interruptions, she took the Congress leaders to task for the poverty comment.

“What is the poor that you are talking about,” she asked. “Your former (Congress) president said poverty does not mean scarcity of food, money or material things. If one possesses self-confidence, then one can overcome it. He said it (poverty) is a state of mind. I’ve not named the person but we know who it is.”

As the scene escalated and protests broke out, the finance minister said the comment was reported in the media and she was just quoting the Congress leader.

Quoting a Tamil proverb, Sitharaman said she did not take any name, but everybody started defending the said person. “If you want a rough translation of the Tamil proverb, it is — during rainy seasons no one knows where the frog is, but you know where it is when it makes the croak-croak.”

Meanwhile, Sitharaman took strong exception to senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal’s remark that “India is not in ‘Amrit Kaal but in Rahu Kaal since 2014”.

Pointing out that ‘Rahu Kaal’ was when an ordinance introduced by own Prime Minister was tore in front of the media (referring to the 2013 incident involving Rahul Gandhi), Sitharaman stated that ‘Rahu Kaal’ was what produced the G-23.

The G-23 is a group of 23 Congress leaders, including Sibal, who have voiced concerns over the Congress leadership style.

She took a further dig at the grand old party saying: “Senior leaders are leaving the party. That is Rahu Kaal.”

On Priyanka Gandhi‘s slogan of ‘Ladki hoon lad sakti hoon’, the finance minister cited incidents against women to mock the Congress party.

On charges that she did not know the ground reality as she was not an elected member, Sitharaman asked, “Did the honourable member imply that all Rajya Sabha members of their time, including the former Prime Minister, were disconnected from the reality?”

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