MUMBAI / NEW DELHI: A day after the Reserve Bank of India decided to hand over Rs 1.76 lakh crore surplus to the government, the issue became a political football on Tuesday with the Congress accusing the government of ‘stealing’ money from RBI and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman retorting that stealing is the Congress’ forte.
Targeting the government, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi alleged that the economic crisis was the current dispensation’s own creation and that it was clueless about solving it. That’s why the government so badly needed a cash transfer from RBI, he claimed.
Echoing him, party leader Anand Sharma said the Centre was pushing the country into a crisis, “The state of the economy today is the result of the wrong policies of the Modi government, which does not want to discuss the crisis. ... The trouble cannot hide for too long.”
Rebutting Rahul, Sitharaman said the questioning of the banking regulator’s credibility was ‘outlandish’, adding that a committee appointed by RBI is now being targeted.
“Rahul Gandhi says chor. I won’t say the same word. The Congress is stuck with the chor tag. They are experts at using this word. I would have wanted the Congress to not sully RBI’s reputation,” she said.
Sitharaman added the government is yet to decide what to do with the surplus money.
Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala warned that dipping into RBI’s contingency fund could spell doom for the country in financial emergencies and war-like situations. He also wondered whether there was any connection between the Rs 1.76 lakh crore which he said was ‘missing’ in the 2018-19 Budget and a like sum being transferred from the central bank to the government.
CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury alleged that the Narendra Modi government has appropriated 99% of RBI’s profits every year since it came to power in 2014 “to fund its propaganda campaigns”.
He added that the health of the Navratnas has been damaged by the financial burden imposed on them by the Centre. “The economy and people’s livelihoods have never been assaulted so mercilessly as under this government,” he said.