Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday hit out at senior Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram, saying that his speech in Rajya Sabha was only “verbose” as he had nothing meaningful to say about the Budget.
Participating in the discussion on the Budget, Mr Chidambaram had said that the Budget presented by Ms Sitharaman was “for the rich, of the rich, and by the rich”.
He had also lashed out at the ruling dispensation, charging it with “incompetent economic management”.
Replying to the discussion on Friday, Ms Sitharaman said also took on Mr Chidambaram for questioning Budget numbers, saying unlike the UPA regime when an “artificial” increase in capital spending was shown to project growth and subsidy shifted from the government budget to companies, the Budget for 2021-22 brings transparency by bringing all spending on book.
She, however, did not name Mr Chidambaram in her nearly an hour long reply to the issues raised by various members of Rajya Sabha.
“There is a lot of grudge in the speech of the former finance minister… So, I feel that there is a little grudge not to recognise how prime minister handled the corona crisis,” she said.
Further, Ms Sitharaman said the former finance minister “gives me a feeling” that he was trying to imitate Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu in terms of rhyming words.
“I get the feeling that the former finance minister is imitating you (Naidu), but he (Chidambaram) has been a miserable failure in the impact that he created, unlike you, who creates a good impact… The imitation and the copy of the Chair in coming up with rhyming words, texts, pretexts, sub-texts, contexts… he used all these trying to imitate you who spontaneously do it,” she said.
The minister also said that trying to imitate it and having absolutely no impact absolutely proves that “it was a contrived speech which had nothing to accuse this Budget of, but verbose, craftsman of words, we can say what we want and get away with it”.
On Mr Chidambaram’s statement that ”it is a budget for the rich”, Ms Sitharaman said the government’s focus on roads, electricity and also direct benefit transfer do not go to the rich.
They go to the poorest of the poor whose cause the prime minister champions, she added.
She cited data to counter Congress’ claims about MNREGA, saying actual spending from 2009-10 to 2014-15 was lower than budgeted.
She also said that during the NDA regime, the actual expenditure on MNREGA has increased significantly.