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Sitharaman responds to Manmohan Singh on 'blame game'

Friday - October 18, 2019 3:28 pm , Category : BUSINESS
New Delhi, Oct 18 (IANS) The spectacle of the government and opposition trading charges on economic policy continued on Friday with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman responding to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's remark that the government is "obsessed" with fixing the blame on its opponents for things gone wrong, saying it was necessary to recall past mistakes.
 
"I respect Dr. Manmohan Singh for telling me not to do the blame game. But recalling when and what went wrong during a certain period is absolutely necessary to put it in context, now that I'm being charged that there's no narrative at all about the economy," Sitharaman told reporters in the US, where she is slated to attend the World Bank-IMF meetings.
 
Manmohan Singh had earlier said here: "I have just seen the statements by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. I won't like to comment on that statement, but before one can fix the economy, one needs a correct diagnosis of its ailments and their causes. The government is obsessed with trying to fix blame on its opponents, thus it is unable to find a solution that will ensure revival of economy."
 
He had also said that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had not been in power at the Centre for the last five years, while the BJP-led government was passing the buck.
 
"When I was in office, what happened did happen. There were some weaknesses. But you can't claim that the fault lies with the UPA always. You have been in office for five years. Mainly passing buck to UPA is not enough," he said.
 
Singh himself was responding to Sitharaman's earlier remark during her talk at New York's Columbia University that Indian public sector banks had their "worst phase" under Manmohan Singh, and former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Raghuraman Rajan.
 
The Finance Minister latrer said she had made the comment only in response to a particular question about Raghuram Rajan's criticism of "centralised leadership" and the absence of a coherent narrative on the economy.
 
"I also understand there's already in India lots of discussion about the Finance Minister being out of the country and how could she talk about issues that are essentially to be spoken within the country.
 
"If a political assessment has been made, nothing stops anyone from making it and it's certainly the right and prerogative of whoever wants to make it," she said.
 
"If there is a charge against us that we have not given a cohesive narrative about the economy, I'm sorry, probably it has not even reached the narrative that we are giving about the economy or the target with which we are working, or the response with which we are answering those stress in different parts of the country, those industries which are under stress, those messages have probably not even reached people who have commented on us," she added.
 
She also said: "I don't need to put the blame. It is more than apparent as to when the wrongdoings happened in banks and which is the government which is spending time to clear the clog from public sector banks and which is the government which is pursuing all those who have taken money during the UPA government and who've gone out of the country out of fear that action is being taken now under this government," she said.
 
"I would want to mix both my narrative together with stating what went wrong earlier. I wished the Congress had the courage of conviction to hear it. We never committed mistakes and corruption. We've not given any loans to cronies," she said.
 
"We've never supported any wrongdoing and looked at the way when as Prime Minister, I would want to again recall the number of corruption cases which had happened during the UPA. Has there been anyone here (under NDA)?" she asked.
 

--IANS ana/bc