NEW DELHI: Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday said that opposition parties can choose their words to target the government but it has made sincere efforts to provide relief to people in the lockdown induced by coronavirus crisis and asked about the performance of the state governments headed by opposition parties in dealing with the issues relating to migrant workers.
In an interview with ANI Editor Smita Prakash, Sitharaman said she did not initially react to Congress calling her press conferences on the comprehensive Rs 20 lakh financial package a “drama” and “TV serial” but decided to hit back on the party on the issue of migrant workers. “If Congress can call Government of India announcing a package at a time like this…one said it’s like a TV serial, every day she comes at 4; other said it’s a drama. I didn’t respond to anyone of them. Even on fifth day when I was announcing, I didn’t respond to any of them,” she said.
“But somebody asked me on migrants, I had to say. If ours – official press conferences telling what package govt wants to give – is called a drama, stopping migrants when they’re walking, at that time you go, sit and have a ‘gupshup’. Don’t I have a right to comment on it?” she asked.
The Finance Minister said the Narendra Modi government came up with PM Garib Kalyan scheme within hours after the first phase of lockdown in March. “In opposition, you can always use any words that you want and this was the government which gave PM Garib Kalyan scheme within hours after the lockdown was brought in. That Garib Kalyan meant that they would have food so that no one goes hungry,” the minister said. “They have not flattened the curve, they have not had the migrants handled in a very exemplary way that all of us can learn from them,” she added.
Asked if she faced excessive criticism because she is a woman finance minister, Sitharaman said, “there is definitely a lot of criticism, I suppose every finance minister gets it.But now because the stress is in the ground so much and affected people are probably a lot more, so there is a lot of criticism and I don’t mind it, I have to take it,” she said. (ANI)