NEW DELHI: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman on Friday slammed the Opposition and accused them of constantly alleging a false narrative that the government only worked for cronies and said several of the Centre’s schemes were for the poor.
“It has now become a sort of habit for some in the Opposition to constantly allege, in spite of what we are doing for the poor and the steps taken for helping the poor and needy of this country, a false narrative is created that this government works only for cronies,” Sitharaman said while replying to the discussion on the Union Budget in Rajya Sabha.
She reminded members of the Upper House of several schemes that have been implemented for the poorer sections of the country, like the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana and the Pradhan Mantri Saubhagya Yojana.
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“Over 1.67 crore houses were completed under the PM Awas Yojana. Over 2.67 crore households were electrified under the PM Saubhagya Yojana since October 2017. Is this for the rich?” Sitharaman asked.
She further pointed out, “The total value of orders placed on the government’s e-market is Rs 8,22,077 crore. Are they being given to big companies? They are being given to MSMEs. Over 3.6 lakh digital transactions via UPI have taken place from August 2016 till Jan 2020.”
She also took a dig at the Congress party, saying, “UPI is used by who? The rich? No. The middle class, smaller traders use UPI. Who are these people then? Is government creating UPI and facilitating digital transactions to benefit rich cronies? For some damads? No.”
Opposition members raised objections over her remarks, to which she responded, “Damad, I didn’t think is the trademark of Indian National Congress. Damad har ghar mein hota hai. Magar Damad Indian National Congress mein ek specialised naam hai. (Son-in-laws are there in every household, but it is a specialised name in the Indian National Congress).
This comes after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on February 4 termed the Union Budget 2021-22 as ‘crony centric’, which ‘betrays’ the employers of the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) sector.
“Modi’s crony centric budget means — Struggling MSMEs given no low-interest loans, no GST relief. The employers of India’s largest workforce betrayed,” Gandhi had tweeted.
Earlier, he had said Prime Minister Narendra Modi is planning to “handover India’s assets to crony capitalist friends”. He had slammed the government for not “putting cash in the hands of the people”.
Gandhi had also said the government should support MSMEs, farmers and workers for generating employment.