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Parliament: Opposition Slams Govt on Price Rise, Unemployment, Impinging on States’ Rights

In Rajya Sabha, Congress, DMK,TMC flay proposed changes in All-India Services cadre rules and decision to extend Border Security Force jurisdiction.
Rajya Sabha

Representational image. | Image Courtesy: The Print 

New Delhi: Opposition parties on Wednesday launched a blistering attack on the government in Rajya Sabha, alleging it has failed to control prices of essential commodities, provide jobs and meet its target of doubling farmers' income.

They also accused the Centre of transgressing into the rights of the states and impinging on the federal structure of the country, as they opposed the proposed changes in All-India Services cadre rules and the decision to extend the jurisdiction of the Border Security Force to 50 kilometers in states bordering Bangladesh and Pakistan

Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge, speaking on the Motion of Thanks on the President's address, charged the government with not delivering on its various promises, including generating two crore jobs per year.

In the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who spent over an hour in the Upper House, Kharge also alleged that the government has failed when it came to controlling price increase of essential commodities like petroleum products and daily food items.

The government was only giving lectures and not delivering on the ground when it came to reforms and welfare measures, he charged.

"Your work is less but publicity is more. You (government) keep on saying one lie after another... whenever your political opponent points out to your follies, you say that religion is in danger. There is a lack of employment opportunities because investment is not coming, factories are closing down.. where are the good days?" Kharge said.

The Congress leader, who spoke for over an hour, claimed that while the BJP was dismissive of the various welfare schemes like MGNREGA, it was this programme that proved to be a boon for migrants during the COVID pandemic.

He also claimed that many government programmes like Make in India have not yielded the desired results.

In every field, whether its economy, make-in-India, self-reliance, China Policy -- all things which you have said, all are failing one by one," he alleged.

DMK MP Tiruchi Siva criticised the proposed amendments in all-India services cadre rules, which give greater say to the Centre,  alleging that "this is again transgressing into the rights of the states".

"This is a federal country. Did you consult any of the states? No...This is not an indication of federalism," he said.

Trinamool Congress MP Sukhendu Sekhar Ray said the government issued a "fatwa" to make amendment in the rules which is an arbitrary and a veiled attempt to centralise executive powers of the states - a decision which has been opposed by nine chief ministers as well as over 100 retired IAS, IFS, etc.

"The home ministry has recently extended the jurisdiction of the border security force from 15 kilometer to 50 kilometers in the states bordering Bangladesh and Pakistan without having any discussion with the concerned states. This unilateral decision on the part of the central government is an attempt of coercion upon the elected state governments having international borders," Ray alleged.

Kharge said that in 2014 the BJP government had promised two crore jobs every year. "The fact is that already two crore jobs have been lost...In Bihar and Uttar Pradesh people are on roads due to lack of jobs in Railways," Kharge said.

He noted that there were nine lakh vacancies in the central government, 15% vacancies in the Railways, 40% in Defence, 12% in Home Ministry and there were jobs in the PMO as well.

"Nothing is being done on the ground to create jobs or to improve the situation and only empty lectures were getting delivered," Kharge stated.

Speaking on MGNREGA, Kharge said that when it was launched Prime Minister Modi had termed it as "Vifalta ka samarak (monument to failure)".

"This MNREGA worked for you (government) during the COVID pandemic," he stated.

Kharge claimed that only 20 days of work was given during the pandemic to people in villages under the scheme instead of the promised 150 days.

He noted that inflation touched 14.23% last year, which was the highest in 12 years.

The government has increased the excise duty on petroleum products by 275% in the last seven years.

"In the last seven years, you have earned Rs 25 lakh crore and despite every time prices of petrol and diesel are increasing," Kharge said.

Taking a dig at the Modi Government's claim of bringing "achhe din'' (good days), the octogenarian leader said the inflation is going up and prices of pulses and LPG are on rise.

"Prices of LPG have gone up by 117%. In 2014, an LPG cylinder gas was priced at Rs 414 and in your time this has increased to Rs 1,000," Kharge said adding prices of pulses are up 60 % and vegetable prices are up by up to 80%.

People are facing rising inflation and unemployment and the government is not keeping its promises.

"Where are the achhe din? If it has come, then for whom. The issue would not be resolved here by clapping (in the house) and by hooting at us," he added.

Kharge also attacked the government on the privatisation of various PSUs.

He noted that in 2013 the PSUs used to employ around 13.5 lakh people, which has come down to 9 lakh in 2021.

Over disinvestment, Kharge said the government is also privatising even those Public Sector Units, which are having profitable growths.

"When the PSUs would be finished, job opportunities would also go down. Reservation, which benefits the poor, SC/ST, OBC and EBC also finishes," he said.

Kharge also expressed his concerns over the decline in manufacturing and industrial growth despite Modi's government's initiatives under 'Make-in-India".

"You said to bring the manufacturing growth by 14% annually but this has gone to -7.2% now," he said.

He also questioned the government on the promise of doubling the farmers' income.

"Has it been done? There is no mention of this matter in the President's speech," Kharge said.

He said that the lives of over 700 farmers could have been saved if the government had taken back the three farm laws earlier and alleged that some RSS and BJP leaders had declared the farmer leaders as "terrorists, Maoists and Khalistani".

Cting the Lakhimpur incident, Kharge said the son of Minister of State in Ministry of Home Affairs Ajay Kumar Mishra was allegedly involved in the death of four farmers.

"First you remove the minister. An inquiry is going on and he may influence its outcome," he said.

Even in the Hunger Index, India is at 101 positions among the list of 116 nations, Kharge pointed out.  

He claimed free ration being provided to the poor and has only been extended till March as there are elections in five states.

He also highlighted rising income disparity in the country.  

"One per cent people of this country earns 22% of the total money, and 9% has 35%  income, 40% of the middle class has 30% income and 50% of people from the bottom line which includes the oppressed and downtrodden have only 13% share of the earning. There are no efforts to reduce the gap," Kharge added.

The government had abolished the Planning Commission, which had taken several steps to reduce those gaps with several development initiatives, he said.

He also took a dig at the government's China policy and said:''Our land is grabbed and houses and bridges are being constructed" but the current dispensation does not even talk about that.

While Referring to Kashmir policy, Kharge said after the removal of Article 370 from the state, over 500 incidents of terrorist activity have happened.  

He faced protest from the treasury bench over his comments on Kashmir.

Kharge also pointed out that there have been various instances of attacks on the SC/STs and Christians in the country.

"From 2015 to 2020, there is an increase of 30%  in the crimes against SCs and 26% against the STs," he said.

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