Govt, Oppn lock horns over data quality, budget…

The opening day of the Lok Sabha debate on the interim budget saw the opposition accusing the government of economically letting down key social segments and not providing reliable data to back up its claims about development and reduction in poverty.

The ruling side responded by praising the initiatives of the Modi government and accused the Congress of having run in the past governments that indulged in “non-performance.” The debate also saw both sides clashing over the issue of the alleged “economic discrimination” against the southern states.

Opening the debate, Congress’ Shashi Tharoor said that under the Modi government the critical segments such as the youth, women, poor and farmers suffered more economically in terms of growing unemployment and rising inflation. Tharoor accused the BJP government of making tall claims, including about the GDP without the backing of credible data.

This government has created a “statistical void” and the NDA stands for “No Data Available,” he said, lamenting that India is no more trusted globally for data reliability.

The opposition put up a brief protest when Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman was not present in the House when the budget debate started but she arrived soon thereafter.

Tharoor said the income of the middle class, lower middle class and poor has shrunk in the last 10 years of the Modi government.

Countering the opposition charges, BJP MP Nishikant Dubey alleged that the past Congress governments had created “licence, quota, permit raj” after the Independence till 1991 and a “loot raj” from 2004 to 2014 under the Manmohan Singh government.

Warning the Congress against trying to create a north-south divide, Dubey said, “There is neither any Dravidian nor any Aryan issue… India is one.”

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Harry Byrne

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