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Modi government failed abysmally: Sonia

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

New Delhi: The central government has failed abysmally to match its words with deeds and that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s electoral promises were nothing more than “hawa baazi” (hot air) say Sonia Gandhi.

“The Modi government has failed abysmally to match words with deeds, match media events with actual accomplishments and match headlines with substance,” Gandhi said while addressing a Congress Working Committee meeting.

“The economy is on a downslide while prices continue to rise,” she said.
Narendra_Modi_360_Jammu_rally_PTI
Gandhi also took a dig at the government’s U-turn on the land bill. “The U-turn on the land bill is evidence that the Narendra Modi government is out of touch with the ground realities. It has become painfully clear that most of the pledges made by the prime minister during his election campaigns are nothing more than hawa baazi,” the Congress president said.

Terming the NDA government’s land bill “draconian”, Gandhi accused the central government of disregarding the will of parliament.

“The Modi government first promulgated a draconian land ordinance. For reasons best known to it, the government chose to disregard the will of parliament and displayed an inexplicable hurry to snatch land from our farmers,” she said. Gandhi also thanked party workers and farmers for putting up a strong opposition to the land bill.

“Thanks to our party’s sustained campaign, the government has been compelled to withdraw its anti-farmer amendments. The credit for this goes to every Congress worker who, under (party vice president) Rahul Gandhi’s active guidance, carried out a sustained agitation,” she said.

She said all like-minded parties and members of civil society joined hands with the Congress against the government’s land bill.

She said similar campaigns are now needed to mount against the assault on tribal welfare, on women and child welfare, on labour laws, on laws that protect the environment and forests, on RTI and on our flagship initiatives MGNREGA which are being systematically undermined.

She also accused the central government of eroding the autonomy and integrity of vital institutions.

“History is sought to be rewritten, specially with targeting of (former prime minister) Jawaharlal Nehru, the architect of modern India and builder of democratic institutions,” she said.

Gandhi also charged that the Modi government was controlled by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.She shared her concerns over ceasefire violations in Jammu and Kashmir and the security situation in the state.

She said: “Our soldiers and civilians are being increasingly targeted. Instead of a coherent policy on Pakistan, this government can’t seem to make up its mind on what it should do.”

(With inputs from IANS)

 

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With The Elections Coming Up, Indian Government Promises Farmers Their Income Support

The government said the fiscal deficit this year will rise from 3.3 percent to 3.4 percent due to the outlay for the income scheme for farmers.

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Farmers, India
An Indian woman helps her farmer husband irrigate a paddy field using a traditional system, on the outskirts of Gauhati, India, Feb. 1, 2019. VOA

With an eye on wooing voters ahead of what is expected to be a tough national election, India’s Hindu nationalist government announced cash handouts of billions of dollars for poor farmers.

In the annual budget presented in parliament Friday, interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal said 120 million farmers with less than two hectares of land would get an income of $85 a year.

Goyal announced that the measure, which will cost about $10.5 billion, would be implemented with immediate effect. “This will pave the way for them to earn a respectable living,” he said. “Such support will help them avoid indebtedness.”

India, Farmers
Interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal, center, holds a briefcase containing federal budget documents with Junior Finance ministers Shiv Pratap Shukla, center right, and Pon Radhakrishnan, left, upon their arrival at the parliament house in New Delhi, India, Feb. 1, 2019. VOA

Farmers complain that a sharp decline in crop prices has hurt their incomes and driven millions into debt. Rural experts said they were not sure whether the measure will assuage disgruntled rural communities that have been demanding loan waivers and better prices for their produce.

The government also announced a pension scheme of about $40 a month for nearly 100 million poor workers in the country’s vast unorganized sector and tax breaks for the middle classes.

The welfare measures come as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party tries to address rising discontent in the country — there is growing anger in rural areas over falling crop prices and widespread worries that his government has failed to create jobs to meet the needs of the country’s huge young population.

The Bharatiya Janata Party recently lost elections in three heartland states, raising concerns it could struggle to win a majority in the upcoming elections. Modi had sailed to power in 2014 on the promise of creating millions of jobs.

Modi, India, Farmers
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, is garlanded by BJP leaders on the first day of the two-day Bharatiya Janata Party national convention in New Delhi, Jan. 11, 2019. VOA

Although economic growth numbers have been good, lack of jobs has emerged as the biggest challenge for Modi. A report in the Business Standard newspaper says a government survey that has not been released pegs the unemployment rate at a 45-year high of 6.1 percent.

Expressing optimism that “India is solidly back on track and marching towards growth and prosperity,” Goyal said that infrastructure projects such as building roads in rural areas will boost employment.

The opposition Congress Party slammed the income support of $85 a year announced for farmers as inadequate. Saying that it is not going to be transformational, senior party leader Shashi Tharoor tweeted, “₹6000 [6,000 rupees, or $84] in income support for farmers boils down to ₹500 [500 rupees, or $7] per month. Is that supposed to enable them to live with the honor and dignity?”

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The Congress Party is also trying to woo voters with the promise of a minimum income for the poor if it wins the upcoming general election. The BJP has dismissed the pledge as unaffordable, while economists have expressed concern that the “competitive populism” by India’s two main parties ahead of general elections could strain the country’s finances.

The government said the fiscal deficit this year will rise from 3.3 percent to 3.4 percent due to the outlay for the income scheme for farmers. (VOA)