Parliament proceedings | Smriti Irani, Anurag Thakur target Rahul Gandhi

Defending the Budget, they reply to Rahul Gandhi’s allegation of crony capitalism in farm laws

Union Minister Smriti Irani on Thursday targeted the former Congress president Rahul Gandhi while intervening in the Budget discussion in the Lok Sabha. She alleged that a Gandhi family-controlled trust had taken away land from farmers on the “pretext” of building a medical college.

Speaking a couple hours after Mr. Gandhi had attacked the Narendra Modi government in the Lok Sabha, Ms. Irani hit out at his record as the former Member of Parliament from Amethi, the Lok Sabha constituency that she now represents in Uttar Pradesh.

Without naming Mr. Gandhi, she said, “This person had said that he’s not concerned about Budget. I am not surprised because Budget mentions about Aatmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana. He is not concerned even when there was not even a CT scan facility at the hospitals of his constituency when he was an MP there.”

“When he was Amethi MP, a trust of his family took farmers’ land on the pretext of opening a medical college. But they built a guest house for themselves there. Being Amethi MP, I would like to say that if someone made provision for a medical college here, it was Narendra Modi,” claimed Ms. Irani.

When Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury objected to the charge, she countered that she had facts and could produce proof.

Defending the Budget, Ms. Irani claimed that those who supported slogans calling for the fragmentation of India at JNU (Jawaharlal Nehru University) could never support a Budget dedicated to building an atmanirbhar or self-reliant India and connecting the country.

Earlier, Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur not only defended the Budget robustly but fired more than a few broadsides against Mr. Gandhi, who had preceded him as a speaker during the discussion on the Budget.

“Those who wasted one whole week of the Lok Sabha through disruptions, then debated the President’s address also on the farmers’ issue, their leader now comes unprepared to debate the Budget,” said Mr. Thakur about Mr. Gandhi, who had already left the House after his own speech.

Referring to Mr. Gandhi’s allegation of crony capitalists being encouraged under the Modi government, Mr. Thakur said that the corporates to which he had referred had been given port development projects in Kerala, the State from which Mr. Gandhi was elected. “Even the grain silos that Rahul Gandhi mentioned as belonging to these corporates, which he says intend to hoard grain and sell at high prices, were set up under the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government. He should examine the previous government’s dealings with corporate houses,” said Mr. Thakur.

“When you say hum do hamarey do (us two, our two) you are not referring to anyone but didi and jijaji (sister and brother-in-law),” he said referring to other members of the Gandhi family. “You say you speak for farmers. In various States, members of the first family of Congress have taken over land under dubious circumstances,” he added.

“This Budget aims at making India a manufacturing powerhouse and is a forward looking budget for the economy,” he said.

Far from not creating employment, ₹3 lakh crore of loans on very easy terms had been offered to medium and small scale industries to meet their need for capital, Mr. Thakur said.

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