Congress dubbed the Rafale fighter aircraft deal as the “biggest scam” of the Modi government and sought a white paper on it.
It demanded that the prime minister make a clarification on the issue, as other opposition parties took the ruling dispensation to task on several other issues.
As Lok Sabha took up a discussion on the 2018-19 Union Budget, senior Congress leader Veerappa Moily dubbed it as a “serious assault” on the federal concept of governance.
Amid continued sloganeering by BJP members, Moily asked whether it was possible to defend the country with less than 1.8 per cent of the total GDP.
“This government is playing with the security of the country. And one instance is the Rafale deal…It is the biggest scam. There is complete non-transparency,” he said while initiating the debate on the Budget.
He claimed various rules and regulations of defence acquisition were violated while doing the deal.
“Defence Minister has refused to disclose the details. The deal has left more questions than answers. It is time for prime minister to answer these questions and the government should bring a white paper on the deal,” he added.
Moily also sought an apology from Modi over his claim that Sardal Patel was ignored for the post of prime minister despite a majority of Congress units backing him over Jawaharlal Nehru, who eventually got the top post.
Moily also noted that due to demonetisation and faulty implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST), India’s economic growth rate got reduced by 2.5 per cent.
As Moily was speaking, some BJP members started shouting slogans. Reacting to the protests, Moily said when BJP people speak of liberal mind, they should also have that.
Ramesh Pokhriyal (BJP) said demonetisation and GST are “revolutionary steps” taken by the government and the entire world appreciated the way Indian economy was being driven. S R Vijayakumar (AIADMK) said the Union Budget projects total government expenditure at Rs 24.42 lakh crore. The government has announced an industry-friendly defence policy and Tamil Nadu should be given priority in defence production.
Terming the budget as disappointing, Saugata Roy (TMC) said the finance minister has not talked about the effect of demonetisation and GST. The budget is also silent on inflation and programmes like Make in India are a “total failure” and “non-starters”.
Tathagata Satpathy (BJD) joined Roy to say that TDP members are fighting for their cause and this government is neglecting them.
Opposing the budget, he said people of Odisha were neglected.
S A Patil (Shiv Sena) said it was unfortunate that TDP members are demanding their rights and the government is not able to fulfil their rights. He said the long term capital gains tax is step “not in the right direction”.
Jayadev Galla (TDP) said the people of Andhra Pradesh demand an explanation for the prime minister and finance minister on the promise to grant special status to the state.
He said it was promised and “we believed the prime minister and finance minister and we are your allies. Together we fought 2014 elections. Why shouldn’t we trust you,” he said. Despite repeated assurances, nothing has been done on the demand, he added.
He said that even box-office collections of Telugu blockbuster Baahubali was more than the funds provided by centre to the state of Andhra Pradesh.
The TDP members later walked out of the House in protest.
TRS member A P Jithender Reddy too said that the centre should honour the promises made to the people of Andhra Pradesh.
P Karunakaran (CPI-M) also said that centre should resolve the issues concerning Andhra Pradesh and listen to allies who are feeling neglected.
Participating in the debate Supriya Sule (NCP) said the whole Budget was presented in a hostile environment, with the government’s allies openly protesting.
“There is lot of mistrust from their own allies which makes us wonder where this government is headed and where the country is headed,” she said.
Jai Prakash Narain Yadav (RJD) said the government has cheated youth of the nation by not fulfilling the promise of providing 2 crore jobs every year.
Varaprasad Rao Velagapalli (YSRC) said fixing of MSP is very critical for success of the Budget proposals.
BJP’s Kirit Somaiya said the poor and poor alone is the focus of the budget.
While the Congress “looted” the country through scams, the current government is providing health insurance to 50 crore people through Modicare, he said.moneycontrol