As the back-and-forth on the country’s economy continued, Nirmala Sitharaman hit back at Manmohan Singh’s remark that the Government is “obsessed with fixing the blame on its opponents”, saying that he as the Prime Minister had “looked the other way” as “wrongdoings” mounted and “cronies” cornered loans on his watch.

“I respect Dr Manmohan Singh for telling me not to do the blame game. But recalling when and what went wrong during a certain period is absolutely necessary to put it in context, now that I’m being charged that there’s no narrative at all about the economy,” Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Thursday.

Sitharaman accused the UPA government of giving loans on the basis of “phone calls” and supporting “crony capitalism”.

“We have not given any loans to cronies, we have never supported any wrongdoings and looked the other way as prime minister,” she asserted.

Her remarks came hours after former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh on Thursday said that the Government is “obsessed with trying to fix blame on its opponents” for economic slowdown, instead of finding solutions.

Conceding that there were some “weaknesses” in his regime, Singh said that the BJP government can’t claim that the fault lies with the UPA always. “You have been in office for five years. Mainly passing the buck to UPA is not enough,” he said.

Quoting an IMF statement that said India’s growth rate during the current fiscal year will be only 6.1 per cent as against 7.3 per cent mentioned some months ago, Singh stated that he has no hope of economy reaching the target of $5-trillion by 2024.

The Congress leader’s remarks came after the Finance Minister on Tuesday said the Public Sector Banks had their worst time during economists Manmohan Singh and Raghuram Rajan’s time.

Turning the tables on finance ministry’s critics and reputed economists, Sithatraman pointed at a massive amount of bad loans in state-run banks when the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was in power. She held Manmohan Singh and former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan responsible for putting public sector banks (PSBs) through the “worst phase.”

Meanwhile, speaking on the sidelines of the annual World Bank Group meetings on Thursday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that India remains among the fastest growing economies of the world and efforts are being made to make it grow faster.

This was in response to the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) recent projections which stated that the country will see a declining growth rate.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected a reduced growth rate for India, but the country’s economy is “still growing as the fastest”, she told a group of reporters.

Sitharaman further claimed that India’s growth rate was on par or tied with China. “The moment I say this, I am sure friends back home [will say], ‘Oh, you don’t know the size of the Chinese economy.’”

As against India’s real growth rate of 6.8 per cent in 2018, the IMF in its latest World Economic Outlook released on Tuesday projected the country’s growth rate at 6.1 per cent for 2019 and noted that the Indian economy is expected to pick up at 7 per cent in 2020.