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Not working for cronies, working for the common people: Sitharaman

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New Delhi, Feb 13: The Union Budget has set the pace for India to become Atmanirbhar, Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman said today.

Speaking in the Lok Sabha, she said that the challenges of the pandemic did not deter the government from undertaking reforms for maintaining long term goals of the country. Reforms will lay the path for making India one of the top economies of the world, the Fm said in her reply to the Budget 2021-22 in the Lok Sabha.

Reforms will lay path to make India one of the greatest economies: Nirmala Sitharaman

In the Budget speech, I very clearly said, we are taking a holistic approach to health. It is addressing preventive health, it is addressing curative health, it is also addressing well-being. Otherwise, you are not going to get holistic health-related governance, Sitharaman further added.

I will firmly establish that in spite of bringing water and sanitation, the allocations to the core health has not come down. On the contrary, it has gone up, the finance minister also said. Govt will allocate more funds for rural job scheme MGNREGA for 2021-22 if needed, as against Budget estimate of Rs 73,000 crore, the minister also said. The FM also said that this government is not working for cronies, but for the common people.

On Friday, while replying in the Rajya Sabha, the Finance Minister attacked the Opposition parties for creating a false narrative around her Budget of being pro-rich, saying from free food grains, gas to building roads and houses have been for the poor.

"Attempt made in this Budget is to provide stimulus, strong stimulus which can bring about a multiplier effect and therefore instead of finding quick short term solutions-even as we provide short term quick relief for those people who so desperately need it-we are looking also at medium and long term sustainable growth which will keep India in that kind of growth trajectory, which will maintain us as one of those fastest-growing economies in the world," she said.

She said that despite government scheme and initiatives ranging from roads to agriculture, housing, scholarships to electricity benefiting lives of people, a false narrative was being created by the Opposition that the government was working for cronies.

"It has now become a sort of a habit for some in the Opposition to constantly allege whatever this government is doing -- in spite of what we are doing for the poor and more needs to be done, and that is not denied at all -- in spite of the obviously seen steps taken for helping poor and needy of this country, a false narrative is created to accuse, saying this government works only for cronies," she said.

Houses completed under PM Awas Yojana stands at more than 1.67 crore, while households, which have been electrified under Saubhagya scheme since October 2017, is more than 2.67 crore, she said.

"The length of road sanctioned under PM Gram Sarak Yojana between 2014-15 and those years...2,11,192 km...those roads go to villages...are they villages for the rich? Are they villages where the poor do not live? Whose lifeline are these roads," she said, asserting that those throwing allegations unthinkingly must answer these questions.

Sitharman said the NDA government has removed all ills from the rural-employment guarantee scheme MNREGA and spent highest ever about Rs 90,500 crore so far this fiscal.

She said during the COVID pandemic year, the government has spent Rs 90,469 crore under the MNREGA rural employment scheme, which highest ever.

Sitharaman said for 2020-21, the Budget estimate was Rs 61,500 crore for the scheme, which has been increased to Rs 1,11,500 in the revised estimates.

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    "Your track record is bad. Never your Budget estimate was met," the finance minister said as she reeled out data from 2009-10 and subsequent years under the Congress-led UPA regime.

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