The Opposition in Rajya Sabha took on the Centre while debating on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s address. The MPs across the opposition parties charged the government with undermining democracy and painting a “rosy” picture when ground reality was totally different, the Congress party alleged “big scam” in the Rafale aircraft deal.
Congress deputy leader Anand Sharma alleged there was a big scam in the Rafale deal as the price at which the planes were negotiated were four times higher and benefitted private firms.
He alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi clinched the deal during his visit to France in 2015 without taking into confidence the Defence Minister and the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). Even the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) was not consulted on the matter, he said.
Sharma said the Modi government scrapped the 2005 deal signed during the UPA regime for purchase of 126 jets at a rate of Rs 526 crore each and inked a fresh pact in 2015 to purchase 36 jets at a much higher rate of Rs 15,070 crore each.
The price at which India is planning to buy is four times higher than the earlier price, while Qatar has purchased 12 jets at a price of Rs 694 crore each, he claimed.
Accusing the government of not being transparent on the issue, the Congress leader claimed that as per the earlier deal, 108 jets were to be manufactured by HAL, but in the new deal the contract has been given to a private entity. The HAL has been by-passed for Rs 38,000 crore worth offset contract in favour of a private entity, he said.
“You can definitely rope in private sector but you cannot compromise the country’s defence security. …You give entire deal to a private entity. Why did you not take into confidence of the CCS and the defence minister,” he sought to know.
The Opposition leader also said the Presidential address did not have anything on foreign policy or border problems with China, the situation in Nepal or Maldives, but just mentioned old schemes without talking about the ground reality, he said.
Earlier, senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel said in 2004, when the Vajpayee government left office, annual per capita income was Rs 24,000. In 2014, when the Manmohan Singh-led government ended its term, this had risen to Rs 70,000.
Patel said “farmers, labourers and others – all are worried. The BJP will be defeated in 2019″.
He said not just the opposition, but BJP allies like the Shiv Sena, Telugu Desam or the Shiromani Akali Dal did not seem to agree with the “rosy projections” being painted.
Trinamool Congress Party’s Derek O’Brien questioned the government over the budgetary allocation for the social schemes, saying it is not sufficient to bring in desirable results. “May be they can learn from the West Bengal government,” he said referring to the state government social programme on the welfare of young girls.
He also attacked the government on Aadhaar, obliquely referring to the larger issue of privacy and data protection.
BSP’s Satish Chandra Mishra said the condition of farmers in the country has worsened, and claimed that voters will not give a chance to the BJP-led government to present the next Budget.
DMK member RS Bharati said that Tamil Nadu was neglected in the budget. He also raised issue of water for farmers. He also raised another issue related to a resolution passed by the Tamil Nadu Assembly on the NEET exam.
Meanwhile, making his maiden speech in the Rajya Sabha, Aam Aadmi Party member Sanjay Singh attacked the BJP saying the democratically-elected AAP government in Delhi was not being allowed to function, while referring to President Ram Nath Kovind disqualifying 20 AAP MLAs for holding office of profit.
He also alleged that the BJP government has not fulfilled the promises made regarding job creation and the loan waiver to farmers and added that it has also betrayed the trading community through measures like demonetisation, foreign direct investment in retail and sealing of commercial establishments.
CPI leader D Raja said the government has been working against the political democracy in the country and deepened the social inequality.
“Quoting (Dr Babasaheb) Ambedkar and acting contrary to his vision has been the practice of this government. It sounds offensive to the very vision of the Constitution and the legacy of Dr Ambedkar,” Raja said.
He said the nation was passing through a very critical period and there was all-pervasive crisis in economic, political, social and cultural life and in the organs of the state including judiciary.
Raja alleged that the power of Parliament was being curtailed as the government was taking the Money Bill route for passage of several legislations and undermining the Parliament by not referring Bills to Parliamentary Committees.
Abdul Wahab (IUML) criticised government on issues like Triple Talaq, subsidy cut for Haj travel and minorities, saying these were against the interest of Muslims.
Sanjiv Kumar (JMM) said opposition leaders are being targeted in Jharkhand, while B K Haripasad (Cong) referred to the mention of Deendayal Upadhyay’s name in President’s address and asked what his contribution to the nation was.
Nominated member KTS Tulsi opposed the idea of simultaneous Lok Sabha and state Assembly elections, saying the government was prioritising stability over democratic principles. He claimed that the concept was a threat to democracy and added that it was being “mindlessly” brought in to serve the “greed” of staying in power.
(With inputs from PTI)