Rupee debate in Lok Sabha degenerates into caste row | India News


NEW DELHI: Indian rupee has been strong against every currency and the US dollar is an exception because of policies adopted by the US Fed, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said during an acerbic exchange between the Opposition and treasury benches on the depreciating value of the rupee during Question Hour in Lok Sabha on Monday.
The dramatic scenes unfolded when Congress MP Revanth Reddy, while speaking in Hindi, quoted PM Modi as saying, when he was the Gujarat CM, that the “rupee is in the ICU”. He also sought the FM’s response to why the Indian rupee had “devalued” against the US dollar and what steps the government was taking to strengthen the rupee.
Sitharaman clarified that the Indian currency has depreciated, not devalued, and that this depreciation was limited to the US dollar because of the aggressive US Fed policy to make the dollar stronger. Pointing to Reddy’s reference to the PM’s comments as Gujarat CM, the FM also said the rupee was at 66 when the “whole economy was in ICU”.
“As regards the US dollar, because of the policy adopted by US Fed, it is getting stronger and stronger. As regards the foreign exchange reserves, Reserve Bank of Indian has used the FE reserves to intervene in the market only to ensure that dollar and rupee fluctuations do not get too volatile… But, in the last couple of weeks, the reserves are going up because of flow of FDIs and FIIs….So, at this time, it is not appropriate to say that the rupee is getting depreciated, the foreign exchange reserves are coming down or FDI is running away. It is absolutely not proven by data,” Sitharaman said.
Later, Reddy, a Telangana MP, also drew the ire of Speaker Om Birla when he alleged that Sitharaman had made disparaging remarks about his proficiency in Hindi because he belonged to a lower caste. Taking serious exception to Reddy’s statement, Birla warned members to desist from using references to caste and religion in the House and said he would take action against members who make such statements.
In sharp exchanges that saw the opposition benches back Reddy, Birla also asked leader of Congress Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury to direct his party colleagues to not comment on the Speaker. “You are the Leader of the House. Make members understand that they should never comment on the Speaker in the future that ‘you (Speaker) cannot interrupt’. Did you understand what I said?” Birla said.





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