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FM Nirmala Sitharaman's 'dramebaazi' jibe at Rahul Gandhi irks Congress

Gandhi had interacted with some migrant workers returning home at Delhi's Sukhdev Vihar on Saturday

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Coronavirus | Nirmala Sitharaman | Lockdown

Archis Mohan  |  New Delhi 

Rahul Gandhi
The Congress, however, welcomed the additional budgetary allocation of Rs 40,000 crore for MNREGA

Finance Minister on Sunday described leader Rahul Gandhi’s meeting migrant workers as “dramebaazi”, or charade.

Gandhi had interacted with some migrant workers returning home at Delhi’s Sukhdev Vihar on Saturday. While the termed the FM’s comments “frivolous”, it arranged buses for migrants headed for Uttar Pradesh, and complained the UP government did not allow these to cross its borders. The also opposed the government plan to privatise public sector enterprises (PSEs).

Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said the so-called economic package was only worth Rs 3.22 trillion, and a mere 1.6 per cent of the GDP, and not 10 per cent as the prime minister had claimed. The Congress, however, welcomed the additional budgetary allocation of Rs 40,000 crore for MNREGA.

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Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh termed the FM’s comments on Gandhi as frivolous and unbecoming. Instead of ridiculing Rahul Gandhi, the FM should have intervened with the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh to allow entry to the buses arranged by Vadra to transport migrants, Singh said.

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram tweeted thanking the FM for “acknowledging” that the additional expenditure can be met only by additional borrowing. “We are not agreed on the amount of additional expenditure involved in your PM Garib Kalyan Yojana and five tranche package. When you do the additional borrowing we will know the answer,” he said.

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Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said with Sunday’s announcements, the “bogus claims” of the government stand exposed. He said so far of the Rs 20 trillion, “loan + liquidity” is equal to Rs 16.6 trillion, and subsidy and cash is worth Rs 3.2 trillion, and the latter amount includes old announcements and programmes. “After five days of press meets by the FM, it is clear that India has become a member of NATO: No Action Talk Only.”

“The public sector built India. It made India strong and self-reliant. Now in the name of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’, Modi-style, the public sector is being taken to the shamshaan ghat. Many of the announcements made by the Finance Minister in the last 5 days require Parliamentary approval and scrutiny. It is imperative that Parliament is convened at the earliest,” Ramesh said.

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Communist Party of India (Marxist) chief Sitaram Yechury said on PSEs, “More avenues for loot to his cronies, foreign and domestic corporates is Modi and his government’s best Covid cure! What has whittling down the public sector, even in “notified strategic areas”, got to do with the Covid crisis? How misleading.”

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), the trade union arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, welcomed the FM’s announcements on increasing budgetary allocation for MNREGA work by Rs 40,000 crore. On privatisation of public sector enterprises, the BMS said “social dialogue is required before introduction of the new policy”.

Migrant workers desperate to return to their homes clashed with the police in Gujarat, and also at several places on the borders of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

Migrant workers demanding immediate travel arrangements hurled stones at the police, damaged vehicles on the national highway near Rajkot.

Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh said 2 million migrants, mostly from Bihar and West Bengal, have registered with the state government.

First Published: Sun, May 17 2020. 23:33 IST
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