National security was compromised under UPA: Sitharaman

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Friday that national security was compromised under the erstwhile Congress-led UPA government, which ruled the country from 2004 to 2014. 

National security was compromised under UPA: Sitharaman
Source: IANS

New Delhi, Feb 9 (IANS) Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Friday that national security was compromised under the erstwhile Congress-led UPA government, which ruled the country from 2004 to 2014. 

Defending the White Paper on Indian Economy tabled in the Lok Sabha on Thursday, she said that inflation crossed double-digit during the rule of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

Replying to the questions raised by the Opposition MPs on the White Paper in the Lower House, Sitharaman said that the document is based fully on evidence and facts. 

She also shared various data and facts to establish every single point mentioned in the White Paper, exposing the UPA’s “corruption and fiscal mismanagement”.

Challenging the Congress and the opposition for terming the document as baseless, she said that everything mentioned in it is backed by evidence. 

In fact, hours before her speech in the Lok Sabha, the Congress had called the White Paper “The White-lie Paper”. 

Sharing evidence and facts, the Finance Minister went on to “expose” the erstwhile UPA government on one issue or the other, from corruption, scams, inflation to employment.

 She said that between 2004 and 2014, the average annual inflation was 8.2 per cent, which touched 9.8 per cent during 2011 to 2014. 

At some point of time, inflation also touched double digits during the UPA regime. When inflation in India was 9.8 per cent during the UPA regime, the global inflation was just 4-5 per cent, she said. 

“This is their record,” Sitharaman remarked. 

"Under UPA, retail inflation was more than 9 per cent for 22 months, our retail inflation was mostly at 5 per cent, never crossed 8 per cent," she said. 

The Finance Minister also said that the unemployment rate for graduates dropped to 13.4  per cent during this government. Labour markets have witnessed a falling unemployment rate, declining from 5.8 per cent in 2018-19 to 3.2 per cent in 2022-23, she said. 

Sitharaman claimed that 8,82,191 Central government vacancies have been filled up in the last nine years, adding that jobs have been given without any bribes, nepotism and favouritism, which were prevalent during the UPA rule.

Sitharaman also alleged that the Congress sold farmers’ interest in the WTO Bali Declaration. That time, the WTO declaration was signed by the UPA’s Commerce Minister about procuring India’s PDS buffer stocks through minimum support price (MSP). 

This was actually to stop procurement in the country from 2017, she added. Procurement, creation of buffer stock and distribution was to be stopped. 

“I fought as Commerce Minister and brought back the provision, " she said. 

"Those who sold out farmers’ interests are now questioning our intention about the farming community," she said.

The Finance Minister also said that Sonia Gandhi was the super Prime Minister, an extra constitutional person, during the UPA rule. 

“Why did 710 files go from the government to the NAC,” asked the minister, as she charged that the UPA government was without any accountability. 

This is why one big-ticket scam happened every year during the UPA regime, she claimed. 

“They keep claiming credit for MNREGA and Aadhaar. But these proposals were not acceptable to them then. Aadhaar and biometric authentication helped in sending money to the beneficiaries directly even during the Covid pandemic. Aadhaar-authenticated DBT saved Rs 2.7 lakh crore... But they are now saying 'Aadhaar Hamara Hai'," she said. 

Lambasting the opposition for accusing the Modi government of misusing the Enforcement Directorate (ED), Sitharaman said that between 2005 and 2014, only 102 PMLA prosecutions took place. 

"The ED was not allowed to probe the money laundering cases during the UPA rule, as the agency was kept as a caged bird," she charged, adding, “Now the agency has been given independence, so over 1,022 cases were filed, with 58 convicted in 10 years. This number was zero during the UPA time," she said. 

Restitution in their time was zero, while restitution in the nine years up to 2022-23 was Rs 16,233 crore, she said. 

"We issued 24 Red Corner notices in our tenure, while they passed zero. They extradited zero persons, but we are bringing back four, " she claimed, adding, "We have recovered Rs. 906.74 crore from fugitive economic offenders, while they (UPA) recovered zero", she said.

She also charged that national security was compromised in the 10 years of UPA rule. 

There was huge shortage of ammunition and defence equipment in 2014, Sitharaman said, as she highlighted how corruption in defence sector was rampant during the UPA regime. 

“We have doubled the defence budget in the last 10 years to Rs 6.22 lakh crore in 2024-25,” she said.