BJP, allies hail Budget; Sena MPs skip meeting
With the Budget highlighting his government’s rural pitch, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday asked NDA MPs to bring maximum farmers under the new crop insurance policy, while Finance Minister Arun Jaitley asserted that it will address agriculture distress.
At a meeting attended by MPs of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies, except Shiv Sena, Jaitley spoke in detail about the Budget, underscoring that it also seeks to give fillip to economic growth by improving infrastructure and business and investment climate.
Sena MPs did not attend the meeting, saying they were not “informed” about it. “There was some communication gap,” its MP Anandrao Adsul said.
Jaitley told the MPs that the government was making all efforts to create an “insured and pensioned” society and highlighted steps like health insurance and life cover announced for the public, sources said.
The BJP and its allies expect that the Budget will help them blunt the Opposition’s charge that the government was “anti-farmer”. This comes at a time when Assembly polls are due in five states, including Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and West Bengalin April-May. The crucial UP election is scheduled for next year.
The over one-hour meeting saw a brief intervention by Modi, when he asked the MPs to work towards informing farmers about the benefits of the newly announced ‘Pradhan Manti Fasal Bima Yojana’.
He urged the MPs to take this as a challenge in their respective constituencies, sources said. BJP chief Amit Shah, who was also present, lauded the Budget for its pro-farmer and pro-village thrust.
The Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) row and the debate in Parliament over it also found a mention in the meeting, with Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu giving an account of developments in JNU and Hyderabad Central University and urging the members to counter the Opposition’s charges.
He praised Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani’s “spirited reply” and members too joined in with “loud applause”, they said.
Briefing the NDA MPs on the business ahead in Parliament, Naidu said Modi would reply to the discussion on Motion of Thanks on the President’s address in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday. A presentation was also made by Naidu on various schemes related to the farm sector, financial inclusion, social security, crop insurance, MUDRA Bank, Make in India, empowerment of Dalits, women, youth and rural development, the sources said.
He spoke about “significant outcomes” under 60 new initiatives of the government and added that the members would be briefed on another set of 60 such initiatives during the next meeting.