Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman as well as the Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur's joint absence from the Prime Minister's pre-Budget meeting with economists didn't go unnoticed as Congress MP Shashi Tharoor took to Twitter questioning why she didn't attend the meet.
In a departure from his eloquent tweets, Tharoor simply posted: "What's going on here? Finance Minister indisposed?"
Same question again: https://t.co/QhZQtBLRwv. What’s going on here? Finance Minister indisposed?— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) January 9, 2020
PM Narendra Modi was accompanied by Home Minister Amit Shah, Commerce and Railways Minister Piyush Goyal, and MSME and Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari in the meeting with economists held at Niti Aayog on Thursday. Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar and CEO Amitabh Kant, as well as PM-EAC Chairman Bibek Debroy were also in attendance.
Meanwhile, Congress joined Tharoor to take potshots at the government over Sitharaman's absence. The opposition party tweeted: "How many men does it take to do a woman's job? #FindingNirmala"
Replying to a tweet by BJP's official handle, which invited suggestions for the upcoming Budget, Congress posted: "Here's a suggestion, next budget meeting, consider inviting the Finance Minister. #FindingNirmala"
And Twitterati did what it does best - had a field day over the Finance Minister's absence in the meeting.
Looks like Home Minister is doing finance meeting, while Finance Minister is at home. https://t.co/DcAeYeRXre— Ramesh Srivats (@rameshsrivats) January 9, 2020
First invite the Finance Minister @nsitharaman and take her suggestions.— Syed Maqbool (@maqbool_sm) January 9, 2020
Modi and Shah insulted her by not inviting in the consultation meeting with "top economists"#FindingNirmala#SaveIndianEconomyhttps://t.co/48lf7qkuLM
In a rebuttal, FM Sitharaman clarified that she has already met economists as part of her pre-Budget consultations. In her reply to Tharoor, FM Sitharaman's office tweeted that she "has already met industrialists, experts, and economists during the pre-budget consultations". "Also, she has been meeting and interacting with representatives and stakeholders from various industries for many months now," the tweet added.
Sir, the minister has already met economists on 20th Dec 2019, as a part of the pre-budget consultations. https://t.co/pYMoqBbv35— NSitharamanOffice (@nsitharamanoffc) January 9, 2020
Sir, the minister has already met industrialists, experts, and economists during the pre-budget consultations.— NSitharamanOffice (@nsitharamanoffc) January 9, 2020
Also, she has been meeting and interacting with representatives and stakeholders from various industries for many months now. https://t.co/0jqzqlaCrTpic.twitter.com/00jYixrVc3
The PM's meeting began at 11:15 am and went on till 11:45 am. Meanwhile, FM's interaction with party leaders began at 10.30 am and continued till 2 pm. She was interacting with national office-bearers, spokespersons, Morcha members, departments, publications and think-tanks of BJP at the party's headquarters in Delhi as part of her pre-Budget consultations.
Smt @nsitharaman interacts with the office-bearers, panelists, spokespersons, and members of the morchas and departments of @BJP4India in New Delhi, as a part of the pre-budget discussions. pic.twitter.com/9wkB8fOFFh— NSitharamanOffice (@nsitharamanoffc) January 9, 2020
The agenda for PM's meeting included issues related to agriculture and infrastructure sectors as well as measures to boost economic growth.
This isn't the first time Tharoor was poking the finance minister. In an earlier tweet, Tharoor had also questioned the absence of Finance Minister from a meeting between the Prime Minister and business tycoons of the country on Wednesday.
Where is the Finance Minister? Or has the Duo forgotten they have one? https://t.co/990NEDyQp4— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) January 9, 2020