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Congress continues its attack on Sushma Swaraj, BJP hits back

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New Delhi: The confrontation between the Congress and the BJP escalated further on Friday with Congress president Sonia Gandhi accusing External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj of indulging in “theatrics” and Rahul Gandhi demanding to know how much money she got from former IPL chief Lalit Modi.

Sonia-Gandhi
The Bharatiya Janata Party hit back at Sonia Gandhi, saying she finds it difficult to deliver a speech without reading from a prepared text.

Sonia Gandhi, who continued to lead the noisy protests by Congress leaders against the suspension of 25 party MPs, made a stinging attack on Sushma Swaraj’s Thursday comment claiming she had not helped Lalit Modi but his ailing wife.

“Sushma Swaraj theatrics me mahir hain (Sushma Swaraj is an expert in theatrics),” Sonia Gandhi told the media.

In her speech, Sushma Swaraj had asked: “What would have Sonia Gandhi done had she been in my place?”

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi answered the question, saying his mother would not have done anything like Sushma Swaraj.

Rahul Gandhi also said: “After committing a theft, thieves go into hiding. What Sushma ji did she did secretively. Not one person in the (external affairs) ministry knew she was going to do this.

“Whenever there is robbery or theft, a financial transfer takes place. Sushmaji’s family, her husband and daughter have received money from Lalit Modi. She should tell the country exactly how much money Lalit Modi has paid to her family,” he said.

Friday was the fourth successive day of Congress protest against the suspension of 25 of its members from the Lok Sabha by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Monday.

Congress members raised slogans at the protest asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to break his silence on the Lalit Modi and Vyapam scam issues.

Lalit Modi is facing investigation in several cases by the Enforcement Directorate.

The BJP leaders and union ministers hit back at Sonia Gandhi after her denunciation of Sushma Swaraj.

Union minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy said: “Those who cannot come to parliament, cannot speak in parliament, will do this outside parliament…For someone who can speak and debate in parliament… this is the difference between Sushma ji and Sonia Gandhi.”

Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani added: “Sushma ji’s speech is a challenge for the opposition to get proof against her. It’s easy for Sonia ji to give a byte, but it is not easy for her to give a speech without reading it out from a paper.”

While the Lok Sabha took up business after a walkout by Samajwadi Party and Left members who sought revocation of suspension of Congress members, the Rajya Sabha failed to transact business for the third consecutive week since the monsoon session began.

The upper house was adjourned for the day after heated arguments between Congress and treasury benches over the stalemate in the house over the Lalit Modi and Vyapam issues.

The Congress, supported by some opposition parties, has been demanding the resignation of Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje on their alleged help to Lalit Modi and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over the Vyapam scam.

As private members’ bills were introduced into the post-lunch session, Congress leader Anand Sharma stood up and said there can be no discussion.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the government wants to take “the country on the path of development while the Congress is trying to take it towards destruction”.

Earlier, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu told the Lok Sabha that the government was ready to move a motion to revoke the suspension of Congress MPs if they met the Lok Sabha speaker and promised her to help run the house. The members were suspended for five days.

(IANS)

Next Story

Is NYAY Going To Be A Game Changer for Congress?

The concerns about funds being used for harmful purposes cannot be ruled out. It is due to these challenges many policymakers suggest that instead of making welfare payments to poor households in the form of unrestricted cash transfers the government should focus on in-kind transfers.

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Congress on Friday promised to create one crore jobs across the southern state
Congress state units given more power for 2019 battle- wikimedia commons

By Amit Kapoor & Manisha Kapoor 

The idea of launching Nyuntam Aay Yojana, a cash transfer scheme that intends to provide Rs 72,000 per year to the poorest 20 per cent Indian families, by the Congress Party if it comes to power, has stirred a debate among the policymakers about whether the move is economically viable or is just a tactic by the Congress Party to garner votes in the upcoming general elections.

The discussions are foreseeable, provided that this intervention to ensure basic income to the poor households will cost the country somewhere between 1.5 per cent to 3.4 per cent of GDP, a number higher than the government’s expenditure on healthcare and education. The implementation of NYAY means an additional cost between Rs 3.6 lakh crore to Rs 7.2 lakh crore per year.

To put things in perspective, the expenditure of the proposed scheme is 2.2 times the budget of all centrally sponsored schemes. The party claims that they have worked out all the fiscal calculations before launching the scheme. However, this will be a major dent in India’s budget expenditure and will explode the fiscal deficit from the current 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent.

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An impact evaluation study by UNICEF in Sub-Saharan Africa showed that with the exception of temporary price rise during payment period, cash transfers has no impact on the prices. Pixabay

Apart from fiscal prudence, the other immediate concern surrounding the scheme is the identification of beneficiaries and the database that will be used for this. There is no official income database available with the government at the individual level and since most of the poor work in unorganised rural areas, there is no direct way of verifying their incomes such as through a payroll or income tax.

The proponents of the approach state that a good starting point could be Socio Economic Caste Census of 2011 if one goes by multi-dimensional aspect of poverty. However, one can’t ignore the fact that even if the scheme defines poverty by assets and not income for quick exclusion rules, the data is outdated. A scheme targeted at reducing poverty can’t use data that is seven-eight years old. Even if one ignores that, it should be noted that there are major methodological issues with how data was collected. This is reflected in the discrepancies that exist in the data collected through SECC and other governmental data. A fresh survey for the identification process will lead to possibilities of corruption as in other targeted schemes. For instance, various studies have shown that many people who are not below poverty line have BPL cards.

One should also keep in mind that there exist significant disparities across Indian states and districts in terms of income levels and affordability of basic needs such as education, healthcare etc. Therefore, the same amount that means a lot to a person living in a low-income state or a state that has good access to public facilities such as public hospitals, schools etc would not be enough for a person trying to make a living in a high-income region. As a result, a prerequisite for such a scheme is a detailed regional level survey on income characteristics of Indian states and districts.

money

To put things in perspective, the expenditure of the proposed scheme is 2.2 times the budget of all centrally sponsored schemes. The party claims that they have worked out all the fiscal calculations before launching the scheme. Pixabay

Another major concern surrounding the scheme is its inflationary implications. It is argued that the act of transferring cash to the target population will boost their purchasing power, which would lead to an increase in demand for goods and services and, thus, push prices upwards. Advocates of the approach have tried to argue that studies around the world present a lot of evidence to the contrary.

An impact evaluation study by UNICEF in Sub-Saharan Africa showed that with the exception of temporary price rise during payment period, cash transfers has no impact on the prices. However, these evidences should be considered with a pinch of salt. They rest on the assumption that the money will be spent on useful goods, that will help the local economy in becoming more productive. Though this will not be the case always.

Also Read: Food Unites People Across The Globe

The concerns about funds being used for harmful purposes cannot be ruled out. It is due to these challenges many policymakers suggest that instead of making welfare payments to poor households in the form of unrestricted cash transfers the government should focus on in-kind transfers. This idea is supported by claim that in-kind transfers will help by encouraging the consumption of right things, such as healthy food.

Given India’s concerns about rising unemployment rates, jobless growth and the fact that we need to have effective utilization of our young population to gain a competitive edge over other economies, the promoters are trying to project that NYAY can prove to be a game changer. However, for the Indian economy, a better alternative would be to strengthen the existing public services landscape by removing social, political and personal barriers, along with carrying out structural reforms that leads to creation of more productive jobs. (IANS)