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INDIA bloc calls White Paper document a ‘political manifesto’

MPs in the Rajya Sabha during the Interim Budget Session of Parliament, in New Delhi on Friday.
| Photo Credit: ANI

Opposition leaders from the INDIA bloc in the Lok Sabha on February 9 said the White Paper brought out by the Narendra Modi government on the state of the economy under the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was a “political manifesto” that was aimed at “tarnishing” the Manmohan Singh government.

Most of the members questioned the government why it had not mentioned the November 2016 demonetisation in the White Paper, unemployment, inflation and faulty implementation of GST. Several of them recounted the BJP’s pre-poll promises like creating two crore jobs every year, putting ₹15 lakh into the accounts of every citizen after brining back black money, bringing down the prices of fuel and cooking gas and making the rupee stronger against the dollar.

Two Opposition members — RSP’s N.K. Premachandran and Trinamool Congress’s Saugato Roy — had moved a substitute resolution to highlight the failures of the Modi government and appealed to the House to disapprove the government’s White Paper even though the Opposition doesn’t have the numbers in the Lok Sabha.

Parliament Budget Session – February 9 updates

Responding to the allegations of endless scams under the UPA, Congress and DMK members asked the Modi government to spell out the concrete steps it took to put the guilty behind bars in the past 10 years.

“It is a matter of 10 years. Have you taken any action against any political leader?” asked Congress leader Manish Tewari who led the charge from the Opposition benches.

“If you wanted to bring a White Paper, you should have brought it in 2014. The intention behind this White Paper is only political. This is a political manifesto, not a White Paper,” he said.

Landmark legislation

Mr. Tewari said that under former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, the UPA brought landmark legislation like right to food under the National Food Security act, right to employment under the MGNREGA, right to compulsory and free education and creation of unique identity under Aadhaar. “What has been your achievements in the past 10 years,” he asked.

Congress leader in the House, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, said, “At the fag end of this session, this kind of White Paper only with an objective to tarnish the 10 years of UPA government does not cut much ice.”

Stating that “Rome was not built in a day,” Mr. Chowdhury asked why the BJP constantly abused the Nehru-Gandhi family and mentioned how Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi are constantly targeted by the ruling dispensation.

His deputy, Gaurav Gogoi, accused the government of using the Enforcement Directorate to “welcome the corrupt into the BJP”. “The action rate of the raids from 2005 to 2014 was 93%, which has now been reduced to 29%. Only 23 convictions under the PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) have been secured…. Why is the conviction rate so low? Because these raids are motivated,” Mr. Gogoi alleged.

‘Baseless allegations’

Mr. Premachandran said the NDA government had devastated the economy and the White Paper didn’t talk about unemployment and high inflation. “What is the bona fide intention of this White Paper… If you are so hopeful and confident, then what is the intent of this paper,” the RSP leader said, adding that the BJP government is coming up with baseless allegations.

Trinamool leader Mr. Saugato Roy said the government and the Finance Minister should apologise for the demonetisation and putting the country into severe hardships.

Talking about the recent troubles with payment app Paytm, Sharad Pawar-led NCP leader Supriya Sule said Google Pay and Phone Pe are ticking time bombs. “Google Pay, Phone Pe are two sitting time bombs. BHIM app is hardly used while Google Pay and Phone Pe apps are used [widely]. What is the government doing on digital or cashless economy?” she said.

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