Aarti Dhar

Compensation to banks being worked out: Manmohan

It’s unpaid distress bill left behind by NDA regime

We have the courage to say minorities have not adequately benefited

NEW DELHI: Hitting out at the Bharatiya Janata Party, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday blamed the previous regime for the agrarian crisis and inflation, and said the UPA government’s “unprecedented” initiative to waive farmers’ loans was to meet the “unpaid distress bill” left behind by the NDA government.

Replying to the discussion in the Lok Sabha on the motion of thanks to the President’s address, he said: “We have done nothing more than pick up the unpaid distress bill, which the NDA government had left behind.”

It was the distress of the peasantry that brought the United Progressive Alliance to power, while the NDA was talking of ‘Shining India.’ This distress was the legacy of the NDA regime, a rule during which policies were anti-farmer and anti-agriculture, and low minimum support prices impoverished farmers, Dr. Singh said.

In his hour-long speech amidst repeated disruptions by the Opposition, he said those who were outside the institutional credit system could avail themselves of the scheme initiated in 2004 that would allow them to swap their debt by going to public sector banks. Details of compensating the banks were being worked out, he said and expressed the hope that their dues would materialise over three-four years.

The Prime Minister said adequate provisions from tax and non-tax revenues would be made over this period to fund the package. “Let there be no doubt that the banking system will not be constrained in any manner and there will be no contraction in liquidity.”

Rejecting the Opposition charge that the UPA government was appeasing the minority communities, he said all efforts were being made to reduce “inequality” in opportunities. It was a process of empowerment of all disadvantaged sections of the population. “I take pride in saying that our government has the courage to recognise that our minorities have not benefited adequately from the growth process.

“We are trying to reduce inequalities of opportunities, gaps that exist between regions, between classes, between urban and rural areas. This is part of the process of inclusive growth.”

The motion of thanks to the President’s address was passed without amendment by both Houses. The Opposition led by the BJP walked out of the Lok Sabha expressing dissatisfaction with the Prime Minister’s reply.

The Left parties also followed suit, demanding that the Women’s Reservation Bill be brought in immediately.

In the Rajya Sabha, the BJP and Samajwadi Party members walked out.

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