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India TV Samvaad on Budget 2018: BJP, Congress spar over ‘Modicare’ scheme announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley

Speaking at India TV's Samvaad conclave, organised to discuss this year’s Budget, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said that this is for the first time when people are discussing about healthcare and not tax.

Written by: India TV Politics Desk New Delhi Updated on: February 02, 2018 18:15 IST
Samvaad conclave
Image Source : INDIA TV Manish Tewari and Sambit Patra at India TV's Samvaad conclave in New Delhi on February 2

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today exuded confidence that the new healthcare scheme announced by the government in Union Budget 2018-19 will definitely become a reality.

Speaking at India TV's Samvaad conclave,  organised to discuss this year’s Budget, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said that this is for the first time when people are discussing about healthcare and not tax.

“I met a doctor yesterday, he said this is the first time that a government has decided to do so much in this direction and for the health of the country. This is the first time that we are debating on if the promises made in the budget will be fulfilled,” he said.

Congress’ Manish Tewari, who was the second speaker on the panel, termed the healthcare scheme a “joomla” and noted that it will entail huge expenditure but no money has been provided for it in the Budget.

“Once there was 'Obamacare' that covered a large number of people with 42 million dollars on it. Now they have come up with a health initiative that will cover 10 crore families with Rs 2000 crore. I would like to ask them about the money that they will require to fulfil the promise of covering 10 crore families under this budget,” he said.

“There were no mention of the healthcare scheme in the Budget documents. It will take at least 6-month time to implement it,” he added.

To this, Patra said that the Modi government is committed to the welfare of poor and that the scheme will be successfully rolled out. “It is not necessary that India will perform the way other countries are performing. Politics of NO will not prevail in the country. It is time to say yes, yes yes.. it (healthcare scheme) will become a reality.”

“No one believed that demonetisation can be done… no one believed that there would be GST, but we implemented it. No one believed that toilets will be constructed in rural areas, but Modi govt did that. This is the government of Modiji makes the impossible possible,” the BJP leader opined.

“They (Congress) are hurt because the healthcare scheme is not named in Rajiv or Indira's name. It is Modicare,” Patra stated.

While presenting the Budget for next fiscal on Wednesday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced the world's largest government-funded health care programme, 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. The National Health Protection Scheme, announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his Budget for 2018-19, will cover approximately 50 crore people.

Tewari further said that there was nothing much to be discussed in the Budget, ‘which is why they (government) came up with such huge commitments’.

“They (government) must read the facts that say demonetisation has troubled people and has fractured the economy. They have not provided as many job opportunities as they had promised,” he said.

“There are people and parties who are criticizing the budget even before it was presented. I would like to tell you that it is possible to fulfil all the promises as per the budget and we will work for it,” Patra replied to Tewari. 

When asked will the new healthcare scheme will have impact on the mood of voters in 2019, Tewari said, “Budget is not magic which will bring votes to a political party. There are a number of decisions that were taken without having any impact on votes.”

“This is not a 'vote budget' but a 'soch budget' which aims at the development of India. Even if the budget is bringing us votes, we are happy because we are working for the welfare of the people,” Patra said.

Patra also took the opportunity to laud Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana which was started by the government in May 2016.

“Women in India always struggled without gas cylinders. Modi government has provided cylinders so that the women can do their work easily. More than 5 crore LPG connections have been distributed,” he said.

On skyrocketing fuel prices, Tewari accused the government of not passing on the benefit of reduced crude prices to people. “They have provided cylinders to all, but I want to ask them why have they not cut down the prices of petrol, diesel and oil.”

When Tewari reminded Patra about BJP’s 2014 promise to bring back black money and deposit Rs 15 lakh in everybody's bank account, Patra said: “You should be ashamed as you have looted the country for years. Today you are asking about Rs 15 lakhs… Sonia ji must be knowing better about the same Rs 15 lakh.”

“There is a huge difference in what their (Congress) and our government has done for the country. We have constructed much more roads as compared to the Congress, so the money given by people is reaching them in a U turn,” he added.

“Manish ji should not speak on corruption today as Sonia ji and Rahul ji are out on bail,” the BJP leader said.

The Prime Minister, Patra said, "is not taking even 25 paisa into his pocket, he is converting this 25 paisa into 50 paisa and investing in the country. They (Congress) have no right to speak on corruption." 

When Tewari confronted Patra over why no clear provisions were put in public domain while announcing the proposal to increase the MSP to 1.5 times on the cost of crop production and the intent of the Centre, Patra said, “In last 70 years, the government failed to formulate a formula to calculate the MSP. This we are doing to strengthen the farmers' condition. Farmers' are the backbone of our country and of this backbone is collapsed, nothing will be left.”

On GST, Patra said that the Congress party has a dual face. “At the GST Council meet they (Congress) participate actively. All decisions by GST Council were taken by the mutual consensus. Never has the opportunity of a vote arisen.”


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