New Delhi: P Chidambaram should not be taken seriously, Union Health Minister J P Nadda said on Friday,after the Congress leader termed the Budget announcement on a new national health protection programme a "big jumla (rhetoric)".
The Congress leader on Thursday found holes in the Union government's budgetary promises on providing insurance coverage of up to Rs 5 lakh to 10 crore poor families.
On Friday, the former finance minister again took a dig at the programme, saying a scheme without money was like "flying a kite without a string".
"I think Mr Chidambaram should not be taken seriously," Mr Nadda told reporters. He said this was a "historic and revolutionary" step.
"This is the first time in history that any government has shown such a courage. I would want that you praise it. We stand committed to it (implementing the scheme)," Mr Nadda said.
Touted to be the world's largest government-funded healthcare programme, the scheme is aimed at benefiting 10 crore poor families by providing coverage of up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation.
Mr Chidambaram on Thursday said that the promise of Rs 5 lakh per family for secondary and tertiary healthcare was a "big jumla". "The target group is 10 crore families. There is, as yet, no scheme," he had said.
He had said that assuming that each family will avail Rs 50,000, the amount required per year will be Rs 5 lakh crore.
"Is the FM serious?" Mr Chidambaram had asked.