P Chidambaram should not be taken seriously, Union health minister JP Nadda said on Friday after the Congress leader termed the Budget announcement on a new national health protection programme a "big jumla (rhetoric)".
Former Union finance minister P Chidambaram took a dig at the Centre's new healthcare scheme, saying a scheme without money was like "flying a kite without a string".
He also took a swipe at finance minister Arun Jaitley over his claim that he would raise money for the scheme in the future by calling it a "perfect jumla (gimmick)".
Chidambaram had yesterday described the scheme as another "jumla"+ as the Centre had not earmarked any funds for it in the budget estimates.
When asked about Chidambaram's remarks, Nadda said "I think Mr Chidambaram should not be taken seriously."
Nadda said the scheme was a "historic and revolutionary" step.
"This is the first time in history that any government has shown such a courage. I would want that you praise it. We stand committed to it (implementing the scheme)," Nadda said.
The National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS) announced by Jaitley in the Budget aims to cover over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families in the country.
The scheme will cover about 10 crore households and give a maximum coverage of Rs 5 lakh per person. It is expected to impact about 50 crore people.
It would entail an investment of Rs 10,000-Rs 12,000 crore and was likely to be launched either on August 15 or October 2, official sources said.
Seeking to allay the concerns about the funding of the scheme, Health Minister J P Nadda today said finances would not be a problem and added that the Centre was working out the nitty-gritties of the programme.
Chidambaram yesterday said that the promise of Rs 5 lakh per family for secondary and tertiary healthcare was a "big jumla". "The target group is 10 crore families. There is, as yet, no scheme," he had said.
He had said that assuming that each family will avail Rs 50,000, the amount required per year will be Rs 5 lakh crore. "Is the FM serious?" Chidambaram had asked.