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Modi govt insensitive to farmers; PM, FM must apologise: Cong


Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

The Congress on Friday accused the government of being "insensitive" and "inhumane" towards farmers and demanded that the prime minister and the finance minister apologise for neglecting them in the COVID-19 economic package.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the so-called Rs 20 lakh crore package for offsetting the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic has proved to be a "jumla package" and reflects the "voodoo economics" being followed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

He said the government has not put a single penny in the pocket of farmers or farm labourers through the package and claimed that farmers have lost over Rs 50,000 crore this Rabi season.

"One thing is absolutely clear that the so-called Rs 20 lakh crore economic package has proved to be a jumla package. It reflects the 'voodoo' economics being followed by the prime minister and the finance minister," Surjewala said at a press conference through video-conferencing.

The Congress leader noted that the package, which is now being declared in instalments by the finance minister, "has proved to be only 13 zeros".

He said the PM and FM are trying to befool farmers and this is not in national interest. They should apologise to them for betraying them by not giving even a single penny in their pocket, he noted.

Former finance minister P Chidambaram said in their estimate, the fiscal stimulus part of the second tranche of announcements was Rs 5,000 crore with which analysts agree.

"In today's tranche it is close to zero. Even the FM declined to answer how many of the amounts mentioned today were already part of the Expenditure Budget and how many are additional sums of money."

His colleague and former union minister Jairam Ramesh tweeted, "Madam Finance Minister, one simple question. What is the ADDITIONAL cash you are putting into the system over the next 6 months? The announcements you made today are mostly contained in your budget presented on Feb 1. Another case of repackaging and remarketing."

He also asked the finance minister if she would shed light on basics of 'atmanirbhar arthashastra'.

"On Feb 1, 2020, she projected Centre's expenditure at Rs 30.42 lakh crore for year 2020/21. Now with 'atmanirbhar bharat' package what is the REVISED expenditure figure for 2020/21? Everything else is dramabaazi," he said on Twitter.

Surjewala said the prime minister and the finance minister only talk big things and indulge in headline management, but have done nothing concrete for farmers or any other section of society.

Taking a dig at government's announcement of bringing new laws, he said, what help will new laws provide when farmers continue to sell their produce below MSP.

He said farmers have lost Rs 21,000 crore by distress sale of wheat far below minimum support price (MSP) and an equal amount through crops like chana, sarson and masoor, while another Rs 10,000 crore was lost through distress sale of vegetables and fruits.

He claimed that since the markets were shut and farmers have to sell at distress prices as the government was buying only 26.5 per cent of the Rabi crop at MSP.

"Neither farmers nor farm labourers will benefit from these jumla announcements of the finance minister. Today, farmers and farm workers are frustrated and disappointed," he said.

The Congress leader said it is unfortunate that the prime minister and finance minister have not given anything even to MSMEs as their own minister Nitin Gadkari has exposed the entire set of contradiction and lies by saying that the government and PSUs owe over Rs 5 lakh crore to them.

Unfortunately, he said, neither of them even chose to express concern, much less implement any decision qua that, and "that is where the MSME minister's statement becomes relevant and exposes the entire set of contradiction and lies on part of Union government".

Surjewala said the attempt of the finance minister to repackage the budget and befool the people is "insensitive and inhuman" and needs to be condemned.

Sitharaman on Friday gave details of the third tranche of the Centre's economic package, announcing relief for agriculture and allied industries.

Modi earlier this week announced a cumulative package of Rs 20 lakh crore (nearly 10 per cent of GDP) to provide relief to various segments of the economy battered by coronavirus lockdown.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Fri, May 15 2020. 22:02 IST