Tuesday, July 23, 2024

“Was border situation discussed”: P Chidambaram On PM, Xi meet in Bali

New Delhi, December 19: The Congress and treasury benches were engaged in a verbal spat in the Rajya Saba today after ex-finance minister P Chidambaram sought to know if the border situation figured during the brief exchange Prime Minister Narendra Modi had with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Bali.
As the senior Congress leader referred to a video of Modi’s brief chat with Jinping in Bali during the G20 summit last month, treasury benches raised a protest, alleging he was deviating from the discussion on supplementary grants.
Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar asked Chidambaram to place the video on the table of the House later in the day.
Chidambaram said, “I just want to know, without going into details, was the border situation discussed? Don’t tell me what you discussed.”
The BJP’s G V L Narasimha Rao objected to Chidambaram’s demand through a point of order under Rule 110 which stipulates that discussion on a motion that a bill be passed shall be confined to submission of arguments either in support of the bill or for its rejection and a member shall not refer to the details of the bill further than necessary for the purpose of arguments, which shall be of general character.
Chidambaram, however, asserted that he was within his rights as the Supplementary Demands for Grants included `500 crore for defence capital expenditure for strategic and border roads in the northeast.
“These are strategic and border roads in the northeast… We know who is the threat in the country’s northeastern, northern and eastern parts. Has China conceded anything on Hot Springs? Have the Chinese agreed to discuss the friction points in the Doklam junction and the Depsang plains?” he asked.
He also sought clarity on the buffer zones along the India-China border.
“You are creating more buffer zones. What does a buffer zone mean? According to our information, a buffer zone means there will be no patrol, China will not patrol and India will not patrol. Does it mean that we are no longer patrolling in areas where we were patrolling?” Chidambaram asked.
Earlier this month, there were clashes between the Indian Army and Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control in the Yangtse area of Arunachal Pradesh’s Tawang sector. Ties between India and China nosedived following the clash in the Galwan Valley in June 2020 that marked the most serious military conflict between the two sides in decades.
On the Supplementary Demands for Grants, which Lok Sabha passed last week authorising the government to spend an additional Rs 3.25 lakh crore in the current financial year, Chidambaram wanted to know from where the government would find this money.
He asked if the government already has the money or will it borrow more or does it “expect the GDP to be higher and therefore the fiscal deficit will be met at 6.4%”.
The Congress leader said in 1990-91, India’s GDP at constant prices was about Rs 25 lakh crore. After liberalisation, in 12 years, it doubled to Rs 50 lakh crore and in the next 10 years, it reached Rs 99 lakh crore.
“Technically, therefore, it is our expectation that a government that has been in power for nearly nine years should double the GDP in ten years… Will you be able to double the GDP which you inherited by the time you demit office in 10 years?” he asked.
Chidambaram also said the contribution of corporate tax to the gross tax revenue has come down to 26.1% from 34% in the year before the BJP came to power.
“Why has this great benefit been conferred to the corporates that they contribute 8% less of the gross tax revenues?” he asked, adding the rest are being contributed by common people.
The Congress leader sought to know why the corporate are not investing and the finance minister had to ask them to invest at the events of industry bodies like FICCI and CII.
Chidambaram also asked whether the government had factored in the impact on India’s exports that global major economies are going into recession amid a slowing down of consumption at the lower end of the spectrum in India although sales of high-end items like cars have risen. (PTI)