Govt. insensitive to farmers, says Congress

‘PM, Finance Minister must apologise’

May 15, 2020 10:37 pm | Updated 10:39 pm IST - NEW DELHI

P. Chidambaram. File

P. Chidambaram. File

Accusing the Modi government of being “insensitive” towards farmers, the Congress on Friday demanded an apology from the Prime Minister and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for giving a raw deal in the COVID-19 economic package .

While former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, on twitter, claimed that Friday’s tranche of announcements had zero allocation, former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh said the latest announcements were a “repackaging and remarketing” exercise of what was announced in the Union Budget earlier.

“In our estimate, the fiscal stimulus part of the 2nd tranche of announcements was ₹5,000 crore. Most 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,” Mr. Chidambaram said.

“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,” Mr. Ramesh tweeted.

Also read: Coronavirus | Nirmala Sitharaman announces major stimulus package for MSMEs

“Will FM please shed light on basics of ‘atmanirbhar arthashastra’? On Feb 1 2020 she projected Centre’s expenditure at ₹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 added.

‘Empty promise’

Addressing an online press conference, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the ₹20-lakh crore package had proved to be a jumla [empty rhetoric] package and reflected the ‘voodoo economics’ followed by the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister.

Mr. Surjewala claimed that farmers lost ₹21,000 crore through distress sale of wheat far below the minimum support price (MSP) and an equal amount through other crops like chana, mustard and lentils, while another ₹10,000 crore was lost through distress sale of vegetables and fruits. “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.

“One thing is absolutely clear that the so-called ₹20-lakh crore economic package has proved to be a jumla package. It reflects the ‘voodoo’ economics being followed by the PM and the FM,”he said.

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