NDA, UPA in war of words over funding of dole for farmers
The discussion on the President's address got off to a confrontationist and bitter start in Lok Sabha on Monday with NDA and UPA benches repeatedly interrupting each other even as Leader of Opposition L K Advani called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to reveal how the mega loan waiver would be funded. Advani said while a relief package for farmers was welcome, it was incumbent on government to tell Parliament how it intended to compensate banks and cooperatives for the Rs 60,000 crore sop. "Will this be by way of bonds that will be redeemed later?' he asked. He also pointed out that rural distress had been aggravated by price rise. The Radhakrishnan report on indebtedness said that there were a range of factors that were adding to the farmers' burden. Many farmers who were facing a debt trap had borrowed heavily from private money lenders. He sought to link the waiver with the possibility of an early election and said "since last August there has been uncertainty' referring to Congress-Left brinksmanship over the India-US nuclear deal. He said an unstable government could not deliver. Advani was interrupted with Congress MPs questioning him on issues like the record on combatting terror and BJP's position on Telangana. The heckling seemed part of a pre-planned script. Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's decision to sit on the last bench during the debate seemed to encourage her MPs who competed with one another in aggressively defending the party. The loan waiver issue also had an echo in Rajya Sabha with BJP and CPM charging the Centre with not addressing the real concerns of the poor. Participating in the discussion on the motion of thanks, Abhishek Singhvi (Congress) said the economy had grown by over 8% in the last four years. "But this gung-ho spirit has to be tempered' in the face of hard reality of 25% people still living below the poverty line.