The absence of Nirmala Sitharaman from the Prime Minister’s pre-Budget meeting with economists did not go unnoticed as Congress took potshots at the BJP government suggesting to consider inviting the Finance Minister in the next meet.

“Here’s a suggestion, next budget meeting, consider inviting the Finance Minister,” the Congress mocked, using the hashtag #FindingNirmala.

In yet another tweet, the Congress asked: “How many men does it take to do a woman’s job?”

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor also joined in questioning the government over Sitharaman’s absence.

“Same question again: What’s going on here? Finance Minister indisposed?” he tweeted.

Several others also questioned Sitharaman’s absence at the pre-Budget meet while mocking the Home Minister for “doing finance meeting”.

In a rebuttal, Sitharaman’s office clarified that she has already met economists as part of her pre-Budget consultations.

In reply to Tharoor’s tweets, Sitharaman’s office said: “Sir, the minister has already met economists on 20th December 2019, as a part of the pre-budget consultations.”

It also posted an official press release and a photo of Nirmala Sitharaman at the meeting.

Among others, the meeting was attended by Home Minister Amit Shah and other cabinet ministers, besides Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar, CEO Amitabh Kant and other senior officials of the think-tank.

The meeting assumes importance as the government is in the process of formulating Budget proposals for 2020-21, the focus of which is likely to be on accelerating economic growth which is estimated to slip to an 11-year low of 5 per cent during 2019-20.

PM Modi had on Monday as well interacted with top business tycoons to discuss issues facing the economy and measures needed to boost growth and create jobs.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will be presenting her second Union Budget on February 1.

However, Sitharaman was not present in that meeting as well.