New Delhi: The Congress on Monday took on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the induction of 21 new faces in his Council of Ministers.
Addressing a press conference in the national capital, Congress spokesperson Ajay Maken questioned the logic behind the Cabinet expansion and slammed the PM for bringing in 'tainted' ministers.
At the same time he asked for the resignation of 'corrupt' ministers who had been sworn-in yesterday at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
The revamp exercise sounded hollow and lacked rationale in shifting of ministers, especially when the Finance Minister has been given additional charge of Information and Broadcasting with which it has no synergy, the Congress leader said.
Demanding an apology from the PM for his 'failure' to deliver on his election promises, Maken also sought the resignation of newly inducted Minister YS Chowdhury citing bank documents that claimed that his company has defaulted on repayment of Rs 317.6 crore of loans with Central Bank of India, as per PTI.
Claiming that two to three controversial new ministers were inducted in the expansion yesterday, Maken said the number of 'tainted' ministers has gone upto 15 to 16 out of the 66.
"Did you make him a minister to save him from default. The Modi government should come clean on it and the Minister should resign," he said.
He alleged that another Minister Ram Shankar Katheria has a record of 23 cases against him in the affidavit he has filed with the Election Commission.
"Perhaps, no other MP has such bulky criminal record," he said.
Citing the recovery worth Rs 1.25 crore stolen from newly inducted minister Giriraj Singh, he said, "People of the country want to know from the PM who is tainted if not a person from whose residence such huge cash is recovered and the matter is being inquired by the Income Tax.
"Congress wants to know from Modi why there is hiatus between words and deeds. You talk of cleaning Parliament of criminals, but (you) go on inducting tainted ministers," Maken said, adding that the PM should have kept tainted persons away from the ministry as it lay within his prerogative.
Ridiculing the change in porftolios of some ministers, Maken said, "There is no thinking and rationale behind shifting of these ministers. Earlier a doctor Harsh Vardhan was the Health Minister, now he has been repleaced by a lawyer JP Nadda.
"Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is given the additional charge of Information and Broadcasting. The Prime Minister earlier used to talk about synergy among related departments. What is the synergy between Finance Ministry and I and B except that some businessmen have purchased media houses. Is there other synergy between the two?" Maken asked.
Recalling that the PM used to talk about clubbing various departments and having a leaner Cabinet, he wondered why Department of Ayush has been separated from the Health Ministry and handed over to a new minister.
"You talked about minimum government, maximum governance. Have you not taken a U-turn? Modiji, you have not given answers but raised many questions. We hope that action will be taken against tainted ministers and you will tender apology"", he said.
Wondering why D V Sadananda Gowda has been shifted from the Railway Ministry to that of Law and Justice which was earlier headed by Ravi Shankar Prasad, he said, "If the ministers for Railways and Health were changed because of lack of performance or incompetence, it means the BJP Government has been a failure all this period."
Alleging that the assets of Gowda rose from Rs 9.88 crore to Rs 20.35 crore three months after he became a minister, he said if "you had removed (him) due to corruption, then there are two more ministers, whose assets have risen this way." He, however, refused to name the other ministers at this stage.
To a question as to why Congress leaders were absent from the Cabinet function yesterday, Maken did not hide his displeasure at the main opposition party not being given Leader of the Opposition (LoP) status in Lok Sabha.
"This question should not be asked to a party, which has been denied LoP status. This should be asked to Shiv Sena and Shiromani Akali Dal. The onus lies on the ruling party," he said.
BJP reacts to charges -
Reacting to Congress' charge, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that he didn't know how people could conclude there were 'tainted' ministers in expanded Cabinet.
“Every BJP member in UP have criminal cases against them by state govt; they are political cases, not due to moral turpitude issues,” Jaitley said.
“Congress should compare its poor quality of governance with the governance NDA is giving rather than resorting to baseless allegations,” the BJP leader added.
With PTI inputs