One line comment: Chidambaram on FM Sitharaman's announcements
New Delhi, May 16: The Congress on Saturday said the fourth tranche of economic package announced by the government was an "exercise in absolute futility" and asked what has it given to those most-affected by the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown.
"My one line comment on FM's fourth tranche: No fiscal measure, ZILCH," former Finance Minister P Chidambaram said.
Congress spokesman Gaurav Vallabh asked whether the government has anything to offer to the migrant labour or farmer who has suffered the most due to the pandemic.
Vallabh said his party also opposes the government proposal to increase FDI in defence from 49 to 74 per cent, saying it has "serious national security ramifications", and add that the UPA government had specifically rejected a proposal to increase FDI in defence manufacturing.
"We strongly object to privatization of Ordnance Factories. In fact, these factories require modernization and not privatisation in the name of corporatization. For modernizing ordnance factories, they require new technology, more investment and best practices. We strongly object to handing over of these factories of strategic importance to the private sector," he told reporters.
Vallabh, accompanied by party leader Praveen Chakravarty, said they were "bewildered and saddened" after hearing Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
It was an exercise in absolute futility, he added.
"The nation is watching millions of our fellow Indians struggling and walking hundreds of kilometers to their home states without food, water, footwear and transport, (but) there was not a single word or help offered to them by the finance minister today," he said.
"Instead, she announced measures to make it easier for Indians to travel to space. People want to travel to their states, not space," he said.
The Congress leader said many announcements today were positioned and packaged as some major, new announcements.
"Does the finance minister believe the nation is in a crisis or not? We have these daily press conferences because the nation is under a severe humanitarian and economic crisis of proportions, not seen since Independence. Does the finance minister not believe so? What is this game of packaging old announcements and policies as new schemes aimed for Covid19 relief," Vallabh said.
The Congress leader posed a set of six questions to the Prime Minister, asking, "Has any migrant worker got a single paisa as relief? Has any farmer got any benefit in any form? Is there anything specific for our 7 crore shopkeepers or the middle-class income-tax payers, who have lost their jobs during this pandemic."
"When people are asking for buses and trains for safe travel to their respective hometowns, you are indulging in freeing-up air space, why? While people are trying to safeguard their spaces in their jobs, you are trying to push for space technology, why?" he said.
Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel tweeted, "Our poor are on streets, starving & in pain. Walking back in great agony. They need help, they need support, they need empathy. In pursuance to PM''s promise for Corona relief to them, the govt opens up inter planetary space travel for private players. The joke is on our nation."