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Why No one Talks to Congress' Ghulam Nabi Azad Over Phone. He Explains in Rajya Sabha

File photo of Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad.

File photo of Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad.

Participating in the debate on the Motion of Thanks for the President's address, Leader of Oppositon Ghulam Nabi Azad alleged that opposition party leaders were being treated as "potential terrorists" and their phones were being tapped.

New Delhi: The opposition in the Rajya Sabha on Monday accused the BJP-led government of polarising the country and creating a "fear psychosis" among the people, alleging that it was just renaming the earlier policies without delivering their benefits to the poor.

It is not a "game changer" but a "name changer government" which has failed to deliver on all fronts be it providing relief to farmers and poor, generate jobs or addressing the Kashmir issue, Congress' Ghulam Nabi Azad alleged.

Participating in the debate on the Motion of Thanks for the President's address, Leader of Oppositon Ghulam Nabi Azad attacked the government for creating fear, not only among people but also among the bureaucrats and opposition leaders. "A fear psychosis has set in. You cannot see when you are in power. If someone is scared to talk to the Opposition or transact with them, it is not good for democracy or freedom of speech or even freedom of business," he said.

Azad alleged that opposition party leaders were being treated as "potential terrorists" and their phones were being tapped. "No one today talks to me over phone because they say your phone is tapped," he claimed.

Opposition members, including those from the Congress, SP, NCP and the Left parties, have moved as many as 324 amendments to the President's speech as part of the debate on the Motion of Thanks.

In his speech, Azad said the government was not only polarising the country, but also dividing parties in the opposition and intimidating them by using the CBI and the ED. While supporting the draft triple talaq bill, Azad objected to the stringent punishment it proposes for a man for ending marriage through instant triple talaq.

"You have divided Shias and Sunnis. Now, you are dividing husband and wife. You cannot polarise the nation. ... What kind of division are you involved in? Why are you intimidating the minority community who are victims of fear psychosis?" "You should spare some section. We don't want this New India. You have polarised it. Return us India of Gandhi where no fear existed," he said.

Expressing concern over the Kashmir situation, he attacked the government for not framing any clear policy for the troubled state. "The situation is pathetic. ...Borders are in a sad state of affairs. People are homeless and suffering. The government does not have any clear policy," he said, dubbing the NDA government for being "weakest" in 70 years.

Stating that the recently announced national health insurance scheme is another "jumla" (rhetoric) of this government, Azad said it will only benefit insurance firms and not the ordinary citizens.

Instead of an insurance scheme for 50 crore people, he suggested that the Centre should focus on building more government hospitals to provide cost effective treatment to the poor.

Attacking the government for being insensitive towards farmers, Azad said the government making "false promises" of doubling income by 2022, which cannot be implemented with the current budget allocation to the farm sector.

A government panel, studying ways to double farmers income, has recommended that farmers income cannot be raised without an investment of Rs 6.4 lakh crore in the farm sector and achieving growth 10-12 per cent per annum, he said. "You cannot achieve farm growth of 10-12 per cent even if you rule next 50 years. You cannot invest Rs 6.4 lakh crore. There is no chance of doubling farmers income. Why do you make such promises which cannot be fulfilled," he asked.

"Farmers are committing suicide. You are not doing anything. You are offering only false promises. We object to this," he said, adding that the government has kept the deadline of 2022 for several schemes as it does not want to be held accountable.

While Naresh Aggarwal (SP) said the Ayushman medical insurance scheme announced in the budget would give advantage to private insurance companies and not the people, Sukhendu Sekhar Ray (TMC) quoted a latest CIA report on India to say that the country had performed badly on all major socio-economic fronts.

Supporting the Motion of Thanks, Vinay P Shasrabuddhe (BJP) said the government is providing governance through inspiration, innovation and tranformation and the Prime Minister does not have any "personal agenda".

On a tweet by Congress leaders on selling of pakoda by some students during a recent PM's rally in Karnataka, he said those students did not compromise their self respect and were working hard.

Accusing the government for "repackaging" the UPA schemes, senior Congress leader listed out the schemes like Swachch Bharat, Beti Bachao Beti Padao and Mudra which the Modi dispensation changed their names and taking credit. "It is not a game changer but a name changer government. ...Where are the new schemes? ...You are implementing only our schemes and trying to take credit. You don't have anything of your own," he said while referring to a series of schemes started by the erstwhile UPA government.

Azad said the President's speech does not mention of the unfulfilled promises -- be it depositing Rs 15 lakh in poor people's bank accounts, creating of 10 crore jobs, providing MSP 50 per cent more than cost of production or ensuring lower fuel prices.

Highlighting the government's failures, he said it has been able to construct only 50 per cent of the targeted 12 crore toilets under the Swachch Bharat so far.

"I don't know how are you going to achieve the target in the next 9-10 months. Moreover, 60 per cent of the constructed toilets are unusable as there is no water, no flush and sewage tank," he said, questioning the government for the need to spend Rs 550 crore for publicity of this scheme.

He also attacked the government for allocation meagre budget to implement the Beti Bachao Beti Padao scheme while expressing concern over incidents of recent rapes in BJP ruled states. "What is government doing? Rapes are happening every minute. What kind of New India you are making. If this is new India, we regret," he said.

Countering BJP charges against Congress on dynastic politics, Azad said there has not been any PM or minister from the Gandhi family in last 22 years. He also said the current government was afraid of current leadership of the party. He also said the truth has come to the fore in the 2G spectrum case, while nothing has been found yet by the highest court in the Bofors case.

Taking a dig at the government on high petroleum products prices, Naresh Aggarwal (SP) said petrol and diesel prices have risen by Rs 9 and Rs 7 per litre while under UJJAWALA scheme, only one cylinder is being given to the poor at higher refilling price of Rs 800 per cylinder.

He strongly opposed the government's idea of 'one nation, one election' for conducting simultaneous polls to state assemblies and the Lok Sabha. "Will Yogi Baba (UP CM Yogi Adityanath) be ready for that? First you should amend the Constitution that no assembly would be dissolved before completion of its terms."

On digital transactions, he said only 3 per cent of the population pay tax and attacked the government for giving overarching power to taxmen and introducing jail term under tax laws. He also attacked the government for tightening the noose around the realtors saying this sector gave employment to 12 crore people.

AIADMK leader A Navaeethkrishnana said the government should allow the states to amend law in the concurrent list and should not sit over the amendments passed by assemblies for long.

Giving an example, he said Tamil Nadu assembly passed a bill unanimously to give exemption to students from National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) but it is been pending with central government for approval.

Sukhendu Sekhar Ray (TMC) said GST and demonetisation have broken the back of the common man and they are not told how they would cope up with issues arose after that. He dubbed the President's Address as "nothing but a compilation of 'Mann ki Baat' speeches of the Prime Minister."

On holding assembly and Lok Sabha elections together, he said there is no law to provide for it and, in a sarcastic note, said the government should hold online elections under Digital India.

On triple talaq bill, he said no party was opposed to it, but it should be scrutinised by the parliamentary panel as the government cannot abolish the standard parliamentary process. Observing that there was no reference of black money in the President's address, Ray said "In Panama papers names of 500 Indian appeared and around 900 come on Paradise papers. These all are Indians and not from paradise. The government should come out with a white paper on what action it has taken against the people whose names have appeared in the list." India's NPA is growing and has gone above Rs 10 lakh crore and the government had done nothing to declare "wilful default as a criminal offence," he said.

T K Rangarajan (CPI-M) the number of farmers committing suicide is increasing and the government is seeking time till 2022 to double their income. "The survey says, wait four more years and by then suicides would be multifold."

He said till now, the government has not set up Cauvery Management Board and the farmers of Tamil Nadu are suffering. While T G Venkatesh (TDP) said the government has ignored several important projects of Andhra Pradesh, D P Tripathi of NCP raised the problems of the girl child, saying India has 21 million unwanted girl child.