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Rajya Sabha discusses President’s Address; Oppn slams for no mention of inflation, joblessness, farmers’ issues

The address was meant to be a policy document and a vision statement, but it had only summed up what the Government had done in its seven-year rule, Kharge said.

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge today said the Modi Government could not have talked about its achievements if the Congress Governments had not laid foundations of a sound economy, a democratic system, and a rule of the people.

Launching an attack on the Government during a discussion on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s address at a joint sitting of Parliament, Kharge said the Government’s performance was however much less than what was publicized.

The President’s address, he said, had no mention of rising prices, unemployment, farmers’ and workers’ issues, and how the economic challenges were to be tackled.

The address was meant to be a policy document and a vision statement, but it had only summed up what the Government had done in its seven-year rule, he said.

Kharge said the Government did not tolerate if somebody spoke the truth. Democracy is in danger, he said. Anybody who spoke truth was called anti-national, and the Opposition’s views were rejected, he said.

The Government had promised two crore jobs per year when it came to power in 2014, he said. At this rate, 15 crore jobs should have been added by now. Instead, two crore people had lost their jobs. People were on the streets in Bihar.

Sixty percent of the labour-intensive MSME units were closed. It was the MGNREGA initiated by the UPA Government that had saved the situation, but it was not properly run, he said. At a minimum wage of Rs 200 a day, its allocation should have been Rs 1.80 lakh crore, but was Rs 73,000 crore only, he said.

The excise duty on petroleum products was raised by 275 percent last year, bringing Rs 25 lakh crore to the Government, Kharge said. Still, the petroleum prices were revised repeatedly, and the Government talked of ‘acche din’ (happy days) coming. Prices of all essential items had gone up, he said.

India was 101 in the Hunger Index of 116 countries, he said. The Government talked of feeding 80 crore population and extending it because of coming State elections, but none could forget that the Food Security Act was brought by the UPA, he said.

He said if a leader defected from the ruling BJP to an Opposition party, there were raids by the ED, CBI, and the income tax department. But if an Opposition leader moved to the ruling party, cases were withdrawn.

The BJP talked of the Gujarat Model in 2014, but who laid the foundation of a sound economy, instituting IIMs and IITs and building dams, he said. This home was not built in a day, he said. In 2013, the BJP leaders told the UPA Government to show red eyes to China, but were today silent over the construction of houses by China on the border, Kharge said.

Imports from China had risen and the trade deficit with the country had risen from Rs 2.70 lakh crore to Rs 5.25 lakh crore. Was the Government encouraging India’s “atmanirbharta” or China’s, he asked. Ever since the abrogation of Article 370 there were 500 incidents of terrorist violence in Jammu and Kashmir, he said. The Government should have engaged with its neighbours., he said.

Doubling farmers’ was promised but they were forced to sit on a year-long dharna. If the three farm laws were repealed earlier, the death of 700 farmers on dharna could have been avoided. Their families have not been given any compensation. The new labour Codes should also be withdrawn, he said.

MSP was a big issue for farmers. Four farmers were killed in UP and the inquiry could not take place properly until a Union Minister remained in office. There was no mention of the farmers’ plight in the Presidential address, he said.

Even Christians were under attack, he said, citing an attack on a church. He said the community should have been given a hearing by the Prime Minister.

Covid had claimed 50 lakh lives, he said. When the Economic Survey said 49 percent population was vaccinated, how could Government put the figure at 57 percent? There was no transparency about the PM Cares Fund to which all had contributed, including jawans, NGOs. The Government should disclose how the funds were collected and spent.