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The Lok Sabha today witnessed repeated clashes between the opposition and the ruling sides on issues like farmers' suicide, funds for MGNREGA and formation of a BJP government in Goa.
As the House was discussing Supplementary Demands for Grants (General), K C Venugopal (Cong) charged the Modi government with providing little funds for the MGNREGA. He claimed the Rs 1000 crore hike was negligible as compared to the benefits it was extending to the rural populace.
He said earlier Prime Minister Narendra Modi had dubbed the scheme as a "monument of Congress failure" but had later praised it. Despite the praise, the scheme has seen only one per cent hike in allocation, he said.
In the course of his speech, Venugopal referred to suicides by farmers and said a group of farmers from Tamil Nadu were protesting at Jantar Mantar here with the "skulls" of those who had commited suicide.
Senior AIADMK leader and Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai took exception to the remarks regarding skulls and said these were baseless. He maintained that Tamil Nadu government was taking care of the issues of the farming community.
Tathagat Satpathy (BJD) too questioned the remarks of Venugopal, leading to a war of words between them.
Leader of Congress Mallikarjun Kharge intervened, saying his party colleague was not referring to a particular state but highlighting the plight of farmers across India. He also questioned the demonetisation move and its effects on the GDP.
Venugopal questioned the decision of the government to waive farmers' loan in Uttar Pradesh and said such loans should be waived off in the entire country.
When some BJP members questioned Venugopal on farm loans, he said Congress has all the rights to seek a nationwide waiver as the previous UPA government had done so.
Referring to the Prime Minister's statement that democracy needed to be strengthened, Venugopal alleged that the Finance Minister and then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar were involved in placing a BJP government in Goa despite lacking the numbers. He said the move was "unethical".
His remarks were countered by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar who said Venugopal should avoid speaking on "irrelevant things" and should give a separate notice on the issue so that the House can discuss it.
Speaker Sumitra Mahajan made it clear that she has expunged the remarks by Venugopal on Goa government formation.
Participating in the debate, Kirit Somaiya (BJP) said while the Congress made an issue out of demonetisation, it was itself "devalued" in Uttar Pradesh polls and it has now become difficult to find the party in the state. He said the recent assembly polls have shown "whose GDP has gone down", adding the GDP of Modi and BJP has gone up. Listing the government's achievements in the economy, Somaiya quoted a latest report by PricewaterhouseCoopers which he said placed India as the third largest economy with a total volume of USD 19.51 trillion. He said the report placed Chinese economy at the top with USD 38 trillion, while the US occupied the second place at USD 23.47 trillion. "Our government has done so much. Nostradamus had predicted that a leader from the East will emerge strongly and take his country to a new high.
That leader is Narendra Modi," said the BJP MP from Maharastra.
Slamming the opposition for opposing demonetisation, Somaiya said they have been facing the anger of the people for putting hurdles in India's development.
"The economy is not being ruined, the country is not being ruined. But those creating bottlenecks for Modiji in taking forward the country are being ruined," he said.
Referring to Congress' 'Garibi Hatao' slogan in 1971, he wondered why the party could not rid the country of poverty in the last over 40 years.
"They had given the Garibi Hatao slogan in 1971 and again talked about it 2014. Why the party could not remove poverty in 43 years? You see what we have done in last 33 months," Somaiya said.
AIADMK MP G Hari complimented the government for advancing the presentation of the budget and merging of the railway budget with the general budget.
He also sought adequate funds for providing relief to those in Tamil Nadu hit by cyclone Vardah last year as well as to deal with drought in various parts of the state this year.
The AIADMK MP also demanded a Rs 200 crore package for celebration of M G Ramachandran's birth centenary.
(Reopen PAR16) Bhartruhari Mahtab (BJD) said the labour turnout under MNREGA has increased from 38.52 lakh as on November 7, 2016 to 83.60 lakh as on January 7, 2017. "There is a sudden upsurge of 40 lakh. Is this something to do with demonetisation? Are people coming back from metropolis to villages to ask for employment under MGNREGA. This is because of reverse migration of people back to villages and that demonstrates impoverishment in rural areas," he said. Taking a dig at the BJP's 2014 poll promise of doubling farmer income in 5 years, he sought to know from the government if it is planning to double actual income of farmers, or real or nominal income or double the farm produce? Giving data from a report, Mahtab said in 2002-03, the farmer income was Rs 2,113 per month which increased 3-times in 10 years to Rs 6,426 per month in 2012-13. "You are saying you will double farm income in five years. It is nothing new," he said and asked, "But will it be actual or notional?" Mahtab also drew the attention of the House to the rising problem of bad loans and sought to know from the government as to why more power is not being given to the oversight committee for tackling NPAs. With regard to norms for political parties accepting donations, Mahtab suggested that the process should not be a "trial and error method". Rahul Shewale (Shiv Sena) said normalcy has not been restored in businesses post-demonetisation. "Businesses in Mumbai have not come up to the levels as they were prior to demonetisation. During the demonetisation period, many shops remained closed. Some package or relief should be given to the sectors affected by demonetisation," Shewale said.
(Reopen PAR23) Murali Mohan of ruling BJP-ally TDP said several promises were made under the AP Reorganisation Act like having a new railway zone at Visakhapatnam but very few have materialised. He said seats of Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly post-bifurcation should be increased. CPI(M)'s P Karunakaran attacked the government over demonetisation, saying it has hit several sectors adversely. He said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley should reveal how much money has come into the exchequer post-demonetisation. Jithender Reddy (TRS) demanded Centre's support for several projects in Telangana post-bifurcation. Renuka Butta (YSCRP) demanded special status for Andhra Pradesh. BJP member Anurag Thakur took a jibe at the Opposition while pointing to empty seats on that side. He said the Opposition parties seem to have decided that post-Uttar Pradesh election results, they have to prepare for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls as they "have come to terms" that the BJP is winning 2019 polls.