'How much does he know?': Arun Jaitley mocks Rahul Gandhi's Mandsaur speech; Congress hits back with same question

New Delhi Union minister Arun Jaitley fired back at Rahul Gandhi after his blistering attack on the Modi government on Thursday, hurling a "how much does he know?, when will he know?" jibe that ignited a new war of words with the Congress.

The Congress president's speech at a farmers' rally in Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh in which he took on Prime Minister Narendra Modi also drew another taunt from the BJP with a state minister in the poll-bound state saying it was "scripted", like the one delivered by a character in the Bollywood hit "3 Idiots".

Congress communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala quickly hit back at Jaitley over his jibe at Gandhi, asking instead how much does he know, alleging that arrogance of the BJP has touched its "zenith" as they have turned "blind" to farm distress.

In a Facebook post in response to Gandhi's speech earlier in the day, Jaitley also rejected Gandhi's accusation during his speech that Modi has waived the loans of Rs 2.5 lakh crore of the 15 top industrialists, saying this is factually and completely false.

File image of Aru Jaitley. PTI

File image of Aru Jaitley. PTI

The government, he said has not waived a single rupee due from any industrialist. "The facts are to the contrary".

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said the allegation was the Congress chief's attempt to register his presence after a "vacation" abroad. Gandhi's speech was his first public event following his return from abroad, where he said he had gone for his mother Sonia Gandhi's regular medical check-up,

"Every time I listen to the view of Shri Rahul Gandhi, both inside and outside Parliament, I ask myself the same question – How much does he know? When will he know?"

"Listening to his speech delivered in Madhya Pradesh today reaffirms my curiosity about the answer. Is he being inadequately briefed or is he being a little too liberal with his facts," he wrote.

Jaitley said those who owed money to the banks and other creditors have been declared insolvent and removed from their companies by IBC enacted by the Modi government. "These loans were given largely during the UPA Government," said Jaitley, who is recuperating from a kidney transplant surgery.

On Gandhi's comment that Modi has given Rs 35,000 crore each to two diamond jewellers who have now escaped out of country, Jaitley said this is factually false. He added that the banking fraud started in 2011 when the UPA II was in power and it was only detected during the NDA period.

The Congress chief was apparently referring to absconding diamond jeweller Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi who have allegedly defrauded Punjab National Bank of over Rs 13,000 crore through fraudulent Letters of Undertaking (LoUs).

Gandhi has also accused the NDA government of giving loans only to industrialists and not to farmers. Responding, Jaitley said that "this was during the UPA Government, particularly UPA II".

The bulk of today's NPA or bad loans were given by the banking system during the period 2008-14, he added.

"From 2014, we have been systematically taking one step after the other to recover these monies back" the post said. On Gandhi's charge that jobs are not being created, Jaitley cited the latest GDP data to emphasis that India is the fastest growing economy in the world.

File image of Congress president Rahul Gandhi. Twitter@INCIndia

File image of Congress president Rahul Gandhi. Twitter@INCIndia

"There is a double digit growth in construction, expansion in manufacturing, an increased capital formation which indicates investment increase, large investment in physical infrastructure and increased investment in rural India. All these are job creating sectors," he said.

Separately, Jaitley tweeted that measures taken by the prime minister for welfare of farmers, betterment of economy and for benefit of every citizen of India are globally acknowledged. "Mr. Rahul Gandhi must check facts before stating the reverse which will only aggravate his party's fallibility."

The Congress president had addressed a public rally at Pipliya Mandi in Mandsaur district to commemorate the first anniversary of police firing during an agitation in which six farmers were killed.

"How much does Shri Arun Jaitley know? Has 'Arrogance of Power' reached such a zenith where BJP is blind to ‘Farmer Distress'? How are empty worded ‘Blogs' an answer to ‘Betrayal of Farmers' by Modi Government?," Surjewala asked.

Surjewala also reminded the finance minister of former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru's words that "facts are facts, and will not disappear on account of your likes".

In Bhopal, Minister of State for Cooperatives Vishwas said Gandhi's speech was dramatic, scripted and immature".

"His speech was like that from Bollywood film, "3 Idiots", where a character delivers a speech written by others," the BJP leader told a news conference.

He was apparently referring to a scene in the film where 'Chatur Ramalingam', played by Omi Vaidya, unwittingly delivers a hilarious speech written as a prank.

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Updated Date: Jun 06, 2018 21:54:16 IST

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