No match for UPA government’s performance: Chidambaram

July 22nd, 2008 - 2:44 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of P. Chidambaram

New Delhi, July 22 (IANS) Finance Minister P. Chidambaram Tuesday said no other government other than his had achieved such an enviable economic growth for India and done as much for its farm sector, and alleged that some Indians did not want the country to become an economic superpower. “There are some people in India who do not want India to catch up with China,” Chidambaram said in the debate in the Lok Sabha on the confidence motion moved by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday.

“There are some people in India who do not want India to emerge as a nuclear power and an economic superpower,” he said in a blistering attack on the Left parties, which withdrew support to the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government over the India-US nuclear deal.

The minister began his 40-minute address by listing the achievements of the four-year-old UPA government and said that against the promise of delivering a 7 percent growth rate, it had averaged 8.9 percent, thanks to a record production of cereals, pulses and edible oilseeds.

He said this had come about because of his government’s policies in areas like watershed development, horticulture, mission on pulses, rain-fed development programme and the rural credit programme.

At the same time, he said the government had also sought to address the concerns and the needs of farmers in distress with a loan-waiver programme to the tune of over Rs.660 billion ($16.5 billion).

“Show me any other four years in India’s history where so much has been done for agriculture,” he said. “Never before in the history of our country has a loan waiver scheme launched of the size and scale of the UPA government.”

He also mentioned another scheme launched by the government - the National Rural Employment Guarantee (NREG) scheme - and said in the 15 months since it has been in place, it had covered all the 597 rural districts of the country.

“Why did the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) government not think of anything like the NREG scheme,” he asked, referring to the programme that guarantees 100 days of employment to at lease one member of each rural household.

Chidambaram said that he was seeking to compare India with China since that was the only country as large and complex as India.

He said that in rice cultivation China averaged 6.2 tonnes per hectare while India’s was abysmally low at 2.1 tonnes. Similarly, the figure was 4.42 tonnes per hectare and 2.72 tonnes for wheat for the two countries respectively.

He also said that the situation was similar in steel production and coal mining, adding it was imperative for India to produce more such commodities with much better yield to address the people’s aspirations.

The finance minister said that his government had delivered on each of the promises made in the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) drafted with the Left parties. “No government has done more.”

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