PUNE: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said representatives of the local cooperative sector were "extremely happy" with various steps taken by the Centre for their benefit.
Those who exploited the cooperative sector for political gains never thought of creating a separate ministry for it, and it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi who set up the cooperative ministry, she told reporters on Saturday after concluding her three-day tour of the Baramati Lok Sabha constituency in Maharashtra's Pune district.
Notably, Baramati is the home-turf of NCP chief Sharad Pawar, the former Union agriculture minister whose party has a significant presence in the cooperative sector.
NCP leader and Pawar's daughter Supriya Sule is currently the Lok Sabha member from Baramati.
Sitharaman said, "I had a meeting with representatives of different cooperative institutions such as banks and sugar (mills) and they are extremely happy and there were claps after claps for various steps being taken such as relief to be given to them, taxation concession that was extended, waiving of the long pending arrears of one of the cooperatives. They all were appreciated."
Asked about her tour of the constituency, the minister said she held several meetings and reviewed the implementation of various central schemes.
To a query on how important Baramati is for the BJP, she said the purpose of her visit was to strengthen the party organisation and assess what more needs to be done.
On inflation, the finance minister said the government is constantly working to keep it under control. Price rise has been curbed with the waiver of import duty on edible oil and the import of pulses, she added.
Asked about the slugfest between the opposition and the ruling BJP in Maharashtra over the Vedanta-Foxconn project going to Gujarat, Sitharaman criticised the previous Uddhav Thackeray-led government for stalling big-ticket projects such as Nanar refinery, Wadhvan port, Metro car shed and Bullet Train.
Delay in the Metro car shed project in Mumbai caused a cost escalation of Rs 4,000 crore, Sitharaman claimed.