OPPOSITION LEADERS in the Rajya Sabha on Friday continued their attack on the Budget, saying there was a marked difference in what the government said and did, and that this was a “Budget that intends to sell the country”. Congress MP Deepender Hooda also attacked the farm laws in his speech, and referred to a report published in The Indian Express on what the promise of MSP would cost the government.
“In their seven years of governance, there is a clear difference between what they say and what they do,” said Hooda, son of Bhupinder Singh Hooda, former chief minister of Haryana, which has witnessed protests against the three contentious farm laws across the state.
“Those who talk of Aatmanirbhar Bharat have reduced the skill development budget. Those who talk of sensitivity have reduced the budget for people with disabilities. Those who talk of New India have reduced the budget for scientific research and those who talk of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas’ have reduced the budget for minority development, and those who talk of nationalism have reduced the budget for pensions for soldiers. A government that talked of doubling farmer incomes has reduced the agricultural budget, while those who talk of making India a ‘Vishwa Guru’ have reduced the education budget,” Hooda said.
“In 70 years, the highest the unemployment rate has been is in the Narendra Modi government, and the gap between the richest and the poorest is the highest now,” he said.
To argue his point on MSP, Hooda referred to a piece in The Indian Express on January 30. Hooda said, “The one per cent of the rich have 73 per cent of the wealth. Only in the times of Covid, the 11 richest Indian industrialists have seen a profit of Rs 13 lakh crore. In implementing MSP, experts have estimated, Harish Damodaran (
“The cost of Minimum Support Price”, The Indian Express) has said, that Rs 1.5 to 2 lakh crore it will take — because from what will be bought, some will be sold too, that in a loss of Rs 1.5 to 2 lakh crore, MSP can be implemented fully.”
Hooda said, “If you tax only the profit of 13 lakh crore made by the 11 richest Indian people during the Covid crisis, you will be able to complete the task of giving MSP to farmers.”
He said while the BJP espouses “ek desh, ek vidhan, ek desh, ek samvidhan, ek desh, ek chunaav, ek desh, ek market”, then what was the need for “ek desh, do mandi”. “Why have you found only farmers? You say that you have removed tax. Who pays tax in these mandis? The buyers pay the tax, not the farmers. In Punjab, 6 per cent, in Haryana 4 per cent. Today, why is the rural infrastructure of Punjab and Haryana good, why are there good roads in every village? Because this tax goes towards rural infrastructure, mandis and farmers,” Hooda said.
Former Prime Minister Deve Gowda in his speech complimented the government on its handling of the pandemic and credited Prime Minister Narendra Modi for bringing down the rate of death caused by the Covid-19 virus in the country. He, however, warned against disinvesting stake in PSUs. “The move towards privatisation does not always lead to better competition… even if privatisation is the best option, they should have waited until the economy recovered,” he said.
Gowda also pointed to the reduction in the budget earmarked for PM KISAN and reduced interest subsidy on short-term crop loans to state that the “general direction of the Budget is to withdraw the support for the agricultural sector”.
Aam Aadmi Party’s Sanjay Singh said this was a Budget with an intent on “selling the country”. On the farm laws, he said even organisations aligned to to the BJP, such as the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, had opposed the laws.
IUML’s Abdul Wahab said, “The ongoing protest by the farming community makes it clear that the government and its Budget are documents without any vision and it has completely failed in its promise of doubling the farmer’s income by 2022, as assured.”