Opposition Leaders Treated As "Potential Terrorists": Ghulam Nabi Azad

"No one today talks to me over phone because they say your phone is tapped," Ghulam Nabi Azad said in parliament

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Ghulam Nabi Azad criticised the BJP government for renaming government schemes that the UPA had created

New Delhi: 

Highlights

  1. He accused centre of renaming Congress schemes, claiming credit
  2. He said National Child Programme was renamed as Beti Bachaao programme
  3. He said scheme for girl child not given the financial support it needs
Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad has accused the government of treating opposition party leaders as "potential terrorists" and tapping their phones.  The government, he told parliament, was creating a "fear psychosis" in the country.

"No one today talks to me over phone because they say your phone is tapped," Mr Azad said in Rajya Sabha on Monday during a debate on the Motion of Thanks for the President's speech. "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 added.

Opposition members, including those from the Congress, SP, NCP and the Left parties, moved as many as 324 amendments to the President's speech during the debate.

Mr Azad also accused the BJP-led government of repackaging schemes started by the UPA government and passing them off as its own. Speaking in Rajya Sabha, Mr Azad named several schemes, including the government's flagship "Beti Bachao Beti Padhao" initiative which, he said were instances of repackaging.

"In politics, there is a need for at least some honesty... Nobody knows repackaging better than the BJP government," Mr Azad said.

The Congress has repeatedly claimed that the BJP-led government has been on a repackaging binge. Last year, its senior leader Shashi Tharoor had claimed that the government has renamed 19 of the 23 schemes launched by the Congress government. Presenting a list, Mr Tharoor had tweeted: "Why we in @INCIndia insist this is a name-changing government, not a game-changing one!"

Today, Mr Azad cited some of the better known examples, saying the National Child Programme, started by the UPA government in 2008, had been relaunched as the Beti Bachaao programme.

Moreover, Mr Azad said, the scheme for the girl child has not been given the financial support it needs.

From 161 districts of the country, the scheme is now operating across 600 districts. But the corresponding budget allocation has not kept pace. From the earlier Rs. 200 crore, it should have gone up to Rs. 800 crore to meet the present commitments. Instead, only Rs. 80 crore has been allocated to the scheme in the budget, said Mr Azad.

Besides, the Jan Awshadi Scheme has become the Prime Minister's Jan Awshadi Scheme, Mr Azad said. He also accused the government of said when the UPA government was in power, 24 crore bank accounts were opened, but since the BJP came to power, only 7 crore accounts were opened, Mr Azad further said.

On the fourth day of the ongoing budget session, the government came under attack in the upper house. While Lok Sabha was adjourned following tributes to BJP lawmaker Hukum Singh, who died last week, Rajya Sabha witnessed protests by the Samajwadi Party and AAP and had to be adjourned for a while.

The opposition has decided to corner the government on various issues in the budget session, including unemployment, economic situation, undermining of Constitutional institutions and violence against caste and communities.  Last week, the leaders of 17 opposition parties - including the CPM, which voted to rule out siding with the Congress - met Sonia Gandhi in Delhi to talk strategy for the budget session.

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