Reviving its crony capitalism charge against the Modi government, the Congress on Sunday demanded that the Centre direct the RBI to disclose the list of wilful loan defaulters.
Alleging it was not doing so to protect its “crony capitalist friends”, the Congress asked why the government was not giving a one-line directive to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to disclose information about annual inspection report of banks.
The party's remarks came after the Supreme Court on Friday gave the banking regulator "a last opportunity" to reveal these details under the RTI Act.
"Under the Banking Regulation Act and the RBI Act, it takes Government of India 15 seconds to direct the RBI to disclose...There are specific provisions of 35A, 35B and 35AA (of Banking Regulation Act) that gives this power to the central government...Why is the government not giving a one-line simple directive to disclose?" asked Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi.
Addressing a press conference here, he said, "The Supreme Court directed in 2015 that you must disclose. After that for four long years, the RBI under the direction of this government, clearly wanting to hide things, has procrastinated, obstructed and has derailed, avoided, and has given excuses."
"Why is the RBI not disclosing...Is it protecting someone?" he questioned.
Singhvi asked if the BJP was trying to protect its "crony capitalists friends" whose names are in the list of the RBI's wilful defaulters.
About wilful defaulters who are on the internal RBI list, he said, "Nobody is asking for them to be sent to jail. We are only asking for names...We (Congress) are not afraid of it, so why are you afraid?"
"We had told you a few weeks ago that within five years of this (BJP) government, the defaults and NPAs (non-performing assets) have increased...We ask the BJP to give information about all loan defaulters," Singhvi said.
He alleged that the various defaulters have "run away" from India, "right under Mr. Modi's nose".
"We know the names of the Nirav Modis, Lalit Modis, the Choksis that list is endless," he claimed.
On Friday, the top court made it clear that the RBI was "duty-bound to furnish all information relating to inspection reports and other material" under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005, except those which pertained to "matters of national economic interest".
On December 16, 2015, the apex court had asked the RBI to disclose such information under the RTI Act. However, the regulator did not do so. Therefore, on Friday, the apex court said the RBI is in "contempt of this court by exempting disclosure" of such information. However, the court granted the RBI "a last opportunity" to rectify it.
Meanwhile, Singhvi also claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's use of caste references during the election campaign is a sign of nervousness.
"What is the lecture that has been given to us. That we are above caste. We don't talk about it. Everyone talks about it in the world, but Modiji does not talk about it. Now, you can see the evidence in front of you. This (use of caste by PM) is the symptom of nervousness," Singhvi said.
On Saturday, the prime minister said at a speech in Uttar Pradesh, "Mayawatiji, I am most backward...I request with folded hands not to drag me in the caste politics, 130 crore people are my family."
"This country did not know my caste till my detractors abused me...I am thankful to Mayawatiji, Akhileshji, Congress people and the 'mahamilavatis' that they are discussing my caste...I believe that taking birth in a backward caste is an opportunity to serve the country," the PM had said.
(With PTI inputs)