Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday rejected Opposition charges of the Budget allocations for green and clean energy being made keeping the Adani Group in mind, saying it might be Congress culture to give benefits to 'jijas' and 'bhatijas' but not of the Modi government.
Sitharaman had in Budget 2023-24 provided Rs 35,000 crore for clean energy transition -- a space where the Adani Group has announced massive projects ranging from renewable energy capacity to green hydrogen production. Such allocation has been tagged 'green growth' budget and the Opposition punned it to imply it was meant for Adani Group firms such as Adani Green Energy Ltd.
" ... kyun ki mera naam le kar ek vipaksh ke neta bole, kya Nirmala Sitharaman ne green mei itna amount allot kiya, kya itna amount kisiko mann mei rakhte hue allot kiya? (Because one Opposition leader took my name and said, did Nirmala Sitharaman allocate so much amount to green sector keeping in mind a particular individual?)
"Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi government, any allocation is not made keeping anyone specific in mind, rather by keeping everyone in mind. The government keeps country in mind. Such kind of remarks is absolutely wrong...," the minister said without naming any company or individual.
She was replying to the general discussion on the Union Budget in the Lok Sabha.
Proceedings of Parliament have been disrupted by Opposition parties demanding a probe by a Joint Parliamentary Committee or a Supreme Court monitored enquiry into allegations of financial fraud made by US-based Hindenburg Research against the Adani Group.
While participating in the debate, Congress' Leader of the House Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury sought an explanation from the Finance Minister on how can investors have confidence when the market capitalisation of one of the richest persons in the world eroded by 47 per cent following allegations of accounting fraud and stock price manipulation.
Without naming the Congress, Sitharaman said there were times when phone calls were made to banks for giving loans to benefit certain people.
"...if phone calls were made, if relations were given benefit, if jijajis and bhatijas (brothers-in law and nephews) were given benefit, it might be their culture," she said in an apparent dig at the Gandhi family.
"Under Prime Minister Modi, none of us do any of that. And therefore, any such allegation will be given back in the same language. I'm sorry...I can't afford to have this kind of language," Sitharaman said.
There were allegations that systems were bypassed to provide bank loans to people associated with the Congress party leadership during the UPA regime (2004-2014). The Congress party has rejected such allegations.
Sitharaman also said during earlier Congress regimes, there were massacres and cited examples of Nellie in Assam and the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi. She also accused the then Congress party government for brutally suppressing Sadhus protesting cow slaughter in Delhi in 1966.
"Who will answer for these," she said, adding the Modi government was not against any community and does not believe in vote bank politics.