NEW DELHI: President Ram Nath Kovind highlighted the Centre’s achievements in fighting corruption, boosting economy and taking several welfare measures in his address to the joint session of Parliament on day one of the Budget session.
The Congress, however, questioned the claims made in the President’s address.
“A historic decision was taken in the last winter session of Parliament to extend the benefit of 10 per cent reservation to the poor belonging to the general category,” the President said. Under the world’s biggest health care scheme, Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Abhiyan, he said that “in four months, more than 10 lakh poor had availed free treatment”.
Praising the Centre’s cleanliness drive, he said: “Under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, more than 9 crore toilets have been constructed. Coverage of rural sanitation that was less than 40 per cent in 2014, has increased to 98 per cent. According to an assessment, because of the toilets built, numerous poor persons have been spared of ...diseases and more than 3 lakh lives have been saved.”
Pointing out that 7 IITs, 7 IIMs, 14 IIITs, 1 NIT and 4 NIDs were being set up, the President said the government has decided to enhance the amount of scholarship and fellowship by more than 25 per cent to encourage research activities.
Taking about women empowerment, Kovind said out of the 15 crore loans provided under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana throughout the country, 73 per cent had been disbursed to women entrepreneurs. Under the Deen Dayal Antyodaya Yojana, 6 crore women had become members of self-help groups and the government had provided loans worth over Rs 75,000 crore to such groups.
Congress leader Anand Sharma, however, said it was sad that the government had tried to give respectability to its false claims through the President. Noting that there were no smart cities, no jobs and no skill development, Sharma said claims that demonetisation curbed black money were wrong and actually, the economy was hit by noteban and a flawed GST.