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Nitesh Kumar Sahoo

Mumbai: Former BJP Lok Sabha MP Kirit Somaiya on Thursday lashed out at former Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan for suggesting the Centre for 'gold appropriation' of golds lying with all religious trusts in India. He questioned whether Congress president Sonia Gandhi had asked Chavan to put forth this demand. Thereafter, he asked the Congress party to clarify whether it backed Chavan's point of view. According to Chavan, the gold worth $1 trillion could be borrowed at a low-interest rate and utilised in the ongoing "emergency" COVID-19 situation.

In a potentially controversial statement, senior Congress leader and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Wednesday suggested that the government should utilise the huge quantities of gold lying with various religious trusts in the country to finance the rebuilding of the economy post-COVID-19 pandemic.

He urged that the gold should be deployed to tide over the current financial crisis that has gripped the country in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Government must immediately appropriate all the gold lying with all the religious trusts in the country, worth at least USD One Trillion, according to the World Gold Council. The gold can be borrowed through gold bonds at a low-interest rate. This is an emergency," Chavan said in a tweet, where he tagged Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

He made it clear that when he mentioned religious trusts, it was cutting across religions.

"As per the WGC, the gold is worth around Rs 75 lakh crore. When the country needs it, it must be used," added Chavan in his tweet.

It could be done through a gold bond scheme with a small interest paid on it, and since it (the gold in religious trusts) is the nation's property, there's no harm in using it for public benefit, he added.

"During wars that India has seen, people have come out and given their gold to the government. We can have a scheme and even give them (the religious trusts) a small interest on it," said Chavan.

The technocrat-turn-politician who is a former Union Minister pointed out that since the past nearly two months, he had been advocating a stimulus package of at least Rs 20 lakh crore and welcomed the PM's announcement of Tuesday evening.

However, renowned Bollywood filmmaker Subhash Ghai extended his support for Prithviraj Chavan on Twitter.

(With Agency Inputs)

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