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Sitharaman refutes Rahul Gandhi's claims on loan write off, says Congress misled people

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New Delhi, Apr 29: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman refuted Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's claims on corporate loan write off, saying that it is an "attempt to mislead people in a brazen manner".

Nirmala Sitharaman

She also accused the Congress of failing to show any commitment or inclination to stop "corruption and cronyism", neither while in power nor in the opposition.

Nearly Rs 69,000 crore loans including those of Choksi, Mallya written off till Sep 30

She was responding to the opposition's allegations of loan waivers worth Rs 68,607 crore in the form of write-offs of top 50 wilful defaulters during the first half of the financial year ended March 2020.

In a series of tweets, Sitharaman said that the Congress has attempted to mislead people, and former Congress President Rahul Gandhi should introspect why his party fails to play a constructive role in cleaning up the system.

"Shri @RahulGandhi MP (LS) and Shri @rssurjewala spokesperson of @INCIndia have attempted to mislead people in a brazen manner. Typical to @INCIndia, they resort to sensationalising facts by taking them out of context.

In the following tweets wish to respond to the issues raised. "@INCIndia and Shri.@RahulGandhi should introspect why they fail to play a constructive role in cleaning up the system. Neither while in power, nor while in the opposition has the @INCIndia shown any commitment or inclination to stop corruption & cronyism," she said.

Highlighting that between 2009-10 and 2013-14, scheduled commercial banks had written off Rs 1,45,226 crore, she quipped, "Wished Gandhi consulted former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on what this writing-off was about".

She also referred to media reports quoting former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Raghuram Rajan as having said that a large number of bad loans originated in the period 2006-2008 and "too many loans were made to well-connected promoters who have a history of defaulting on their loans".

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"Those defaulters who do not repay despite having capacity to pay, divert or siphon-off funds, or dispose of secured assets without bank's permission are categorised as wilful defaulters. They are those well connected promoters who benefitted from UPA's 'phone banking'," she added.

In another tweet she said, "Earlier, on 18.11.2019, in the Lok Sabha for an unstarred Question no:52, a list of "Borrowers flagged as wilful defaulter by Public Sector Banks under CRILIC (Central Repository of Information on Large Credits) reporting as on 30.09.2019 (For borrowers with exposure of Rs. 5 crore and above, Global operations) was provided." Bank-wise details of aggregate funded amount outstanding and amount technically/prudentially written off pertaining to top 50 wilful defaulters was provided as an annex to the answer to Lok Sabha starred question 305 of Gandhi on March 16, 2020.

Rahul Gandhi had attacked the ruling BJP after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) released a list of 50 wilful defaulters accused of cheating banks, saying the government had hidden the list from parliament because it included "friends" of the ruling party.

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