Trinamool Congress's Mahua Moitra should look in her "own backyard" to search for "Pappu", Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said today, hurling the Bengal MP's yesterday's jibe back at her. Following Ms Moitra's questioning of "macroeconomic fundamentals" -- packed in the "Who is Pappu now" swipe -- Ms Sitharaman delivered a lengthy and derisive rebuttal in Lok Sabha today, pointing at Bengal government's boycott of Central government schemes.
"Honorable member Mahua Moitra has questioned who's the Pappu, where's the Pappu. She should look in her own backyard, and she will find Pappu in West Bengal," Ms Sitharaman said during the discussion on Supplementary Demands for Grants.
Remarking that "All the macro-economics fundamentals are being questioned," she added, "So there is no doubt that where there are wonderful schemes to benefit common people, West Bengal sits over it, doesn't distribute it. You don't have to search anywhere else for Pappu".
"But even worse is this one. "Maachis kiske haath mein hai". I don't want to elaborate too much on this. Because she probably wanted to spice up her questions... In a democracy people elect the leader. Don't undermine the people by saying who's given them the power," Ms Sitharaman said.
Then she turned to the BJP's latest election victory -- a landslide bigger than the one scored by Chief Minister and Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee in Bengal last year.
"The BJP had a fantastic victory in Gujarat, and see how peacefully the new government took over. Compare it to Bengal's state elections -- the question is how the maachis was used there and by whom? When the maachis was in our hand, we gave Ujjwala, Ujala, PM Kisan Yojana, Swach Bharat Abhiyan. In your hands the maachis led to looting, rapes of our (BJP) workers," Ms Sitharaman added.
Mahua Moitra, one of the most fiery speakers in Parliament, had targeted the government yesterday over its claims of economic progress, citing the government's move to get parliamentary clearance for an additional Rs 3 lakh crore as supplementary demands for the 2022-23 grants primarily to fund a higher subsidy bill on items such as fertilizers, food and cooking gas.
Terming the Centre's claims on economy and provision of basic amenities as "falsehoods", Ms Moitra said eight months later, in December, the situation becomes clear. "Falsehood flies and truth comes limping after it," she added, quoting Irish author Jonathan Swift.
"This government and the ruling party coined the term Pappu. You use it to denigrate and signify extreme incompetence. But the statistics tell us who the actual Pappu is," Ms Moitra said.
She also cited the latest data released by the National Statistical Office (NSO), to challenge the government on its claims of performance.
While industrial output slid by four per cent in October to a 26-month low, the manufacturing sector, which is "still the biggest generator of jobs", has contracted to 5.6 per cent, she said.
The BJP's recent defeat in Himachal Pradesh – the home state of BJP chief JP Nadda – also provided her with ammunition. Declaring that the ruling party's president could not hold on to his home state, she repeated, "Who is Pappu now?"