New Delhi : Serious lapses cited by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in the farm loan waiver scheme threatened to wash out the Parliament session for third day in a row on Wednesday. But the government’s offer for a debate and the Prime Minister promising to take ‘stringent possible action’ against the defaulters for any irregularities.
Dr Manmohan Singh’s intervention came in the Rajya Sabha after loud protests by the Opposition that this is ‘anti-farmer government’, even while stressing that ‘this is a matter which should be entrusted to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) as is the normal practice’.
Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party demanded a Special Investigation Team (SIT) inquiry into the alleged irregularities in the farmers’ loan waiver scheme alleging that the central government had been lax in its approach on the issue.
“Although the Prime Minister has assured stringent action against the defaulters, if any, (responsible for) the alleged “syphoning off” of farmers’ money… in the wake of the CAG report, we want to know why was there a delay in taking action,” BJP national secretary Kirit Somaiya said.
The question hour was adjourned in the lower house due to pandemonium on the CAG report tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, but Speaker Meira Kumar allowed leader of opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and others to air their anger.
The question hour was lost in the Lok Sabha as the House was adjourned for an hour after the BJP and the Left members raked up a ruckus on the CAG report bringing out irregularities, whole the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha did not rock the question hour after initial protests led by BJP deputy leader Ravi Shankar Prasad decrying the fraud with the farmers.
Since the Parliamentary procedure requires the PAC to examine the CAG reports on behalf of Parliament, Opposition leader Sushma Swaraj dug out a circular issued by the Reserve Bank of India dated January 15, at the instance of the government, citing the CAG’s draft report and asking the banks to take corrective steps like recovery, fixing of responsibilities and FIR and report back within 15 days.
Though most of the Opposition members held the government responsible for its failure to monitor proper implementation of the scheme, Sushma said this was a case of the government treasury looted and hence the government, instead of being defensive, should stand up with the Opposition to discuss the matter.”
The Rs 52,000-crore loan waiver scheme was brought by the UPA government in its first term, a year before the elections. The opposition members like Anant Geete (Shiv Sena), Mulayam Singh (Samajwadi Party) and Basudeb Acharia (CPI-M) have been alleging irregularities in the scheme time and again and as such they were emboldened to nail the government with the CAG alleging serious lapses and malpractices in implementation of the scheme by conducting the sample audit across all the states.