Repeated clashes between ruling, oppn sides in LS

NEW DELHI
20 Mar 2017

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. Opposition today attacked the government for its demonetisation move, burgeoning NPAs and failing to provide succour to farmers, saying financial support for various schemes for the welfare of poor have been slashed in the Union Budget. Participating in the resumed discussion on the General Budget, the House also saw a BJP member rebutting the opposition charges saying adequate monetary support has been given to welfare schemes like MGNREGA and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. Resuming the debate, BJP MP Shankarbhai Bhegad welcomed the initiatives announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the 2017-18 budget for the welfare of the people and said the government has announced plans to electrify all villages by 2019 and every village in the country will be provided drinking water facility. He said adequate funds have been allocated for housing schemes for the poor, Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, MNREGA, Ujwala scheme among others. He also referred to the utility of cow dung and urine for organic farming and appealed for protection of cows. SP member Naresh Agarwal targetted Jaitley for meeting with capitalists but not the farmers before finalising the budget.(PTI)