NEW DELHI: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday derided Congress president Rahul Gandhi as “clown prince” and questioned his continuation in public life for “consistently spreading falsehood” in the country.
Seeking to counter the Congress charges against the government over Rafale deal and non-performing assets (NPAs) of public sector banks, Jaitley took potshots at Rahul in a Facebook blog.
“In mature democracies, those who rely on falsehood are considered unfit for public life. Many have been banished from political activity because they were caught lying. But this rule obviously can’t apply to a dynastic organisation like Congress,” the minister wrote.
He said the Congress party’s “campaign of falsehood on Rafale” exposed Rahul’s strategy to “concoct a lie and repeat as many times”.
“If the Rafale concoctions were the first big lie, the second one stated repeatedly is that Modi waived off Rs 2.50 lakh crores of fifteen industrialists. Every word of that sentence repeatedly uttered by Rahul Gandhi is false,” he wrote.
Jaitley claimed the stated amounts were lent by the banks prior to 2014 and the UPA government concealed the loans despite default by rolling them over.
He said the UPA leaders claimed that when they went out of power, the NPAs were only Rs 2.5 lakh crore.
“The truth is that actually the NPAs were hidden under the carpet,” noted Jaitley, and an asset quality review in 2015 by the RBI, revealed the NPAs were to the tune of Rs 8.96 lakh crore.
Hitting out at Rahul, Jaitley said: “You lied on the Rafale deal, you lied on the NPAs. Your temperament to concoct facts raises a legitimate question — do people whose natural preference is falsehood deserve to be a part of the public discourse.”
Public discourse was a serious activity, Jaitley said, “not a laughter challenge”.
“It cannot be reduced to a hug, a wink or repetition of falsehood. The world’s largest democracy must seriously introspect whether public discourse should be allowed to be polluted by the falsehood of a Clown Prince.”