Finance Minister tables white paper alleging economic mismanagement under UPA, Parliament approves interim Budget

February 08, 2024 09:59 pm | Updated 10:00 pm IST

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman speaks in the Rajya Sabha during the Budget session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Thursday, February 8, 2024.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman speaks in the Rajya Sabha during the Budget session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Thursday, February 8, 2024.

Parliament on the seventh day of the Budget Session passed the interim budget for 2024-25, with Rajya Sabha returning the Finance Bill 2024 and the associated appropriation bills after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s reply. In Lok Sabha, the Centre tabled a ‘White Paper on the Indian Economy’ highlighting “economic mismanagement” during the UPA rule. The Lower House also gave its nod to three Bills. Both Houses will reconvene at 11 a.m. on Friday, February 9.

Lok Sabha

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tabled a White Paper to highlight the “economic mismanagement” during the UPA regime and the achievements of the 10 years of the NDA rule. The paper said there was widespread corruption and financial indiscipline when the BJP-led government came to power in 2014. The Minister said the NDA government overcame the crisis of the UPA years, putting the Indian economy on a high sustainable growth path. The government will continue to work till India achieves its 2047 goal of becoming a developed nation, Ms. Sitharaman added. 

The Lower House transacted important legislative business, giving its nod to three Bills. The Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2024, and the Constitution (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2024 seek to include certain communities of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha to the list of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. During the debate, the Opposition demanded the Centre form a joint parliamentary committee to evaluate the demands of communities that demand ST status and a comprehensive bill before Parliament. 

The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Amendment Bill, 2024, was strongly opposed by the Opposition when it was taken up for discussion. Members of the DMK, Congress, and RSP termed the proposed legislation “anti-federal” and asked the government to refer it to the standing committee for scrutiny. The House later passed the Bill via voice vote.

Earlier in the day, the House discussed matters of urgent public importance under Rule 377. Congress member K Suresh raised the issue of ethnic strife in Manipur during Zero Hour and demanded the government to come out with a ‘White Paper’ on the recent violence. He alleged that repeated vandalisation of churches in some States and continued assault on Christian missionaries and priests by the right-wing group is alarming. Other notable matters that were raised in Zero Hour included a demand for the implementation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Jharkhand, an increase in the number of work days and remuneration under MGNREGA and protection of domestic workers.

The DMK, meanwhile, continued its protest over the non-allocation of requisite funds to Tamil Nadu in the interim Budget. Party leaders took part in proceedings wearing black robes in a symbolic protest against the Centre for not releasing flood relief funds. MPs T.R. Baalu and A. Raja drew attention to the issue during Question Hour and Zero Hour.

Rajya Sabha

The Upper House returned the Finance Bill 2024 and the relevant appropriation bills to the Lok Sabha after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s reply, thus completing the exercise of passing the interim Budget for 2024-25. 

In her reply, Ms. Sitharaman highlighted that the interim Budget emphasised capital expenditure to revive the economy after the COVID-19 pandemic and to sustain the growth of the Indian economy. The Centre has managed debt and overall fiscal to honour the glide path for the fiscal deficit given in 2021, the Minister said. Ms. Sitharaman told the House that there were no cuts in any of the flagship central schemes, citing the examples of the PM Kisan Yojana and MGNREGA. The Finance Minister added that no dues were being held back from States, offering specific data about Kerala and Tamil Nadu. 

Following her reply to the discussion, the House passed the Bills the Finance Bill and the relevant appropriation bills by voice vote and returned them to the Lok Sabha. The Upper House also returned the appropriation bills related to the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

The House earlier bid farewell to 68 retiring MPs, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi praising former PM Manmohan Singh for his long-standing commitment to lead the House and the country. Leader of Opposition in the Upper House Mallikarjun Kharge thanked PM Modi for his praise of Dr. Singh. “This is how we should go forward... hail the good efforts, and count the shortcomings,” Mr. Kharge said. Retiring MP H.D. Devegowda also praised Dr. Singh, recalling how the former PM saved the country from a debt trap in 1991.

(Compiled by Meenakshi N Radhakrishnan, Priyali Prakash, Saptaparno Ghosh, Sruthi Darbhamulla, Suchitra Karthikeyan and Sumeda)

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