Chidambaram dismisses Sitharaman’s package, Congress divided on PM’s Rs 20 lakh crore plan

Senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram tore into the Rs 6 lakh crore package announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for MSMEs and other sectors as part of the Covid-19 stimulus and said there was nothing in it for the poor, the migrant labourers and the middle class.

Chidambaram, the former finance minister, urged the government to deposit money in the accounts of 13 crore people belonging to the weaker sections. Earlier in the afternoon, Sitharaman called her announcements the first step in building an Aatma Nirbhar Bharat as envisaged by PM Narendra Modi in his address to the nation on Tuesday.

Chidambaram said, “The package was announced by the Prime Minister on Tuesday night, although some details were not given. There were high expectations from the Finance Minister, but in the announcement she made, there is nothing for the poor and migrant workers.” Though Chidambaram was critical of the measures declared on Wednesday, the Congress was divided into two camps over the PM’s address on Tuesday.

Several Congress leaders including Manish Tewari criticised the PM’s speech as headline management, drawing attention to the fact that only the number is given and the details missing. Congress media cell chief Randeep Surjewala had tweeted, “There is a need to look compassionately at the heart-breaking human tragedy of migrant workers going to their homes and safe return of labourers.

India has been deeply disappointed by your lack of sensitivity towards millions of migrant workers and your inability to overcome their problems.” So had Congress spokesperson Gaurav Vallabh, who said, “PM has given the headline, but no helpline. He did not say anything about sending migrant labourers safely to their homes and the deaths of labourers on the way.

It is very disappointing.” The Congress has noted the discordant tone of tweets by senior Congress leader Anand Sharma and Milind Deora, who, of late, has been speaking his mind. Deora tweeted, “PM Modi has announced an economic package of $266 billion on time. If this is implemented carefully, we will avoid a humanitarian crisis, expand India’s role and Make in India capabilities in global supply chain.” Anand Sharma had tweeted, “The announcement of the package of Rs 20 lakh crore made by PM Modi is welcome and we will wait for the details.

This will help in building confidence in micro, small and medium enterprises with an urgent need to bring the economy back on track and pay salaries to employees.” A senior Congress leader said tweets like these clearly demonstrate that the party is divided when it comes to take on the Modi-Shah duo. Apart from embarrassing us, it blunts the party attack, the leader said.

Referring to Deora’s tweet earlier and Surjewala’s response to it, the leader pointed out that this was a case of clear insubordination. But the fact that Milind Deora got away with it points to the fact that the senior leadership has no stomach for take a hard decision, the leader said. Though Congress leaders refused to come on record, they were hopeful that a time will come when party leaders will start putting party interests above theirs and only then, the party will be able to take on the BJP.

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