Opposition mounts attack on direct cash transfer

The discussions for ending the logjam in Parliament continued on Wednesday as the Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath met Opposition leaders of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley.

The Government had indicated on Tuesday that it was willing to debate the issue with voting. Nath said the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha and the Speaker of Lok Sabha could decide the format of the debate. Swaraj said the Opposition had not come down from its demand for voting on FDI in retail.

The Government’s main worry is the wording of the motion, as it believes that the policy decisions cannot be voted in Parliament. A final decision is likely to be announced on Saturday.

Cash Transfer Opposed

The Opposition, meanwhile, continued to put pressure on the Centre for a discussion on the Unique Identification Authority of India Bill in Parliament before implementing the direct cash transfer scheme. The issue is likely to be raised in Parliament by the Opposition on Thursday.

BJP leader Prakash Javadekar said not even Re 1 extra money was being given to the beneficiaries. “They are changing the way of delivering the same subsidy,” he said, and added that four lakh villages do not have banks and covering them by business correspondents requires a lot of planning.

“Most poor people still do not have Aadhaar cards,” he added.

Plea for debate

The CPI(M) said the Government was not just moving away from subsidies, but from the poor people, too.

“Rs 5 lakh crore was being given as subsidies to big corporates as tax breaks etc,” CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat said and added that there should be a debate on the UIDAI Bill in Parliament.

A statement by the CPI(M) Polit Bureau said the scheme was meant to actually cut subsidies since the cash to be transferred would not cover the increased costs of the same amount of subsidised foodgrains.

“This will have an adverse impact on increasing malnutrition and hunger,” the statement added. The CPI(M) also objected to linking MNREGA wages to the Aadhaar cards.

“Without any discussion in Parliament on the proposed Bill for UID, pushing through such changes will have far-reaching implications for manual workers,” it added.


(This article was published on November 28, 2012)
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