By FnF Correspondent | PUBLISHED: 25, Aug 2021, 17:42 pm IST | UPDATED: 25, Aug 2021, 17:42 pm IST
The Finance Minister said it is the Congress, which received kickbacks by selling resources such as land and mines.
Reminding that the governments headed by the Congress raised Rs 8,000 crore by monetising the Mumbai-Pune expressway, Sitharaman said the UPA government in 2008 floated the request for proposal to lease out the New Delhi Railway Station.
“If he indeed is against monetisation, why was the RFP on the monetisation of NDLS torn to pieces by Rahul Gandhi? And if this is monetisation, did they sell off the New Delhi railway station? Is it owned by jijaji (brother in law) now? Does he understand what is monetisation?” Sitharaman sarcastically said.
The Finance Minister while seeking to address concerns on cronyism and sell-offs of assets created over 70 years reminded the Congress of the Commonwealth Games (CWG).
“What did happen during the CWG? Within one CWG, they finished all that which can be creamed out into the accounts of their cronies,” she said.
Reiterating that the asset monetisation plan does not involve selling off assets, Sitharaman said the assets will be handed back to the government.
“They are brownfield assets, which are completed but under-utilised. If the government has to utilise it better, it has to be through monetisation process wherein it will be put to effective use with a bit more addition to spruce it up to bring it up to utilisation,” PTI quoted Sitharaman as saying during a media interacting in the financial capital.
The Finance Minister’s remarks came a day after Gandhi questioned the National Monetisation Pipeline plan and alleged Prime Minister Narendra Modi “is in the process of selling the crown jewels of this country” built by the previous governments with public money over 70 years.
“Now the Prime Minister is in the process of selling the crown jewels of this country. I am going to read what is being sold and you can guess to which monopolist it is being sold,” he said.
Gandhi said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has claimed that nothing happened in India for 70 years, but now all assets created in all these years are being sold.
The Congress leader alleged Prime Minister Modi “is not working for the people of India” but for “two or three monopolists”.
Addressing a press conference with former Union finance minister P. Chidambaram in the national capital, he said the Congress Party is not against privatization but “there should be a strategy for privatization”.
“We are not against privatization, we believe that there should be a strategy for privatization. What were the pillars of our strategy: first of all, no strategic asset will be sold. In that there is defence, railways,” Gandhi said.
“We said only companies which are chronically loss making, only companies which have minimal market share and we will not sell companies where there is risk of a monopolist,” he added.
The Congress leader further said the public sector can help ensure that the industry is fair, free and is not monopolized.
“This entire privatization is designed to create monopolies. The whole idea behind this thing is to create monopolies for 3-4 people,” he added.
Chidambaram on his part said “this exercise has been designed without any ex-ante criteria"
“The government should have spelt out what its criteria and goals were. You don't embark upon such a big exercise without first setting out the criteria and what your goals are,” ANI quoted Chidambaram as saying.
Sitharaman had earlier on Monday unveiled an ambitious Rs 6 lakh crore National Monetisation Pipeline, which will cover a wide array of sectors ranging from road and railway assets, and airports to power transmission lines and gas pipelines.