Chavan stands by 'gold monetisation of religious trusts,' following row over it

Satara (Maharashtra) [India], May 15 (ANI): Former Maharashtra Chief Minister and Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan on Friday backed his remarks suggesting that the religious trusts deposit their gold with the banks as the country is under economic distress due to coronavirus crisis.

"In the backdrop of coronavirus pandemic, the PM has announced an economic revival package of Rs 20 lakh crore, but questions have been asked as to how the govt will raise these resources. And in this background, I had made a suggestion that the govt asks the various individuals and religious trust to deposit idle gold lying with them," said Chavan.

Adding that he will take legal action against those who allegedly twisted his comment, he said, "Unfortunately, some anti-social elements and bhakt media completely twisted it and tried to project that I had targeted a particular religion. I will take up the matter with the appropriate legal authorities. The suggestion was nothing new whenever there have been national economic crises the Prime Ministers have resorted to collecting gold."

He also cited how in the past Indian Prime Ministers introduced schemes to bring the country out of an economic crisis.

"In the aftermath of 1998 Pokhran nuclear tests and the economic sanctions that followed, PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee had launched a Gold Deposit Scheme in September 1999 and collected a substantial amount of gold," he said.

Chavan further said, "In November 2015, PM Modi launched Gold Monetization Scheme, in the very first year the Lok Sabha was informed by the finance minister that 8 temples-4 from Tamil Nadu, 2 from Maharashtra, 1 each from Andhra Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir- deposited gold with various banks."

He also said that according to data provided by the Finance Ministry, several entities have deposited their gold in the banks.

"According to the latest report of the Finance ministry, from the beginning of November 5, 2015, when the Gold Monetisation Scheme was launched till Jan 31, 2020, as many as 2952 different entities have deposited more than 20 tons of gold in 11 banks, even Tirupati Balaji trust has deposited over 4 tons in state bank and in Punjab National Bank," he added.

He also said that the only two Prime Ministers who announced gold mobilisation are from Bharatiya Janata Party. (ANI)