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Fertiliser subsidy in Gujarat an election ‘lollipop’: Congress

Alleging that Prime Minister Narendra Modi as Chief Minister of Gujarat had not passed on the fertiliser subsidy provided by the UPA government to the farmers, the Congress on Friday accused his government at the Centre of resuming the subsidy with an eye on the state polls.

The party said the subsidy, which had been discontinued by the UPA government as it was being “pocketed” by the Gujarat State Fertiliser and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), was restored by the Modi government in March this year to use as a “lollipop” in the Gujarat polls.

“Modi, who seeks to appropriate UPA’s scheme of ‘Direct Benefits Transfer’ could not even transfer the subsidy to 55 lakh farmers of Gujarat. It speaks of the difference about his words and deeds,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi told the media here.

“When the GSFC was caught pocketing the same, the UPA withdrew the earmarked amount (for 55 lakh farmers), so that a better method could be devised to transfer the said subsidy,” Singhvi said.

He said the fertiliser subsidy was out of Modi’s mind for three years after coming to power at the Centre in 2014.

“In the meantime, judicial procedures were also followed and GSFC was found guilty of pocketing an amount of Rs 986.56 crore meant as fertiliser subsidy for Gujarat’s farmers,” Singhvi said.

He said the amount of Rs 986.56 crore was reportedly used by the GSFC to show revenues of Rs 5,477 crore and a net profit of Rs 419.5 crore in 2016-17.

“Thus the turnaround story of a state PSU was artificially concocted by the BJP and Modi. The GSFC has not provided any data and justification to substantiate that subsidy paid by the government did not result in undue gains to the company,” Singhvi said.

He said it was intriguing that instead of following legal procedures, the Modi government withdrew the case and an “out-of-court settlement” with the GSFC was reached in March this year and agreed to resume the subsidy from that month itself.

Singhvi said the Modi government was also actively considering paying the GSFC the subsidy it withheld from 2013 to 2017.

“In fact, a part of that outstanding amount — Rs 170 crore — was also released in March. Clearly, the Gujarat elections acted as a definite factor in resuming this subsidy,” he said.

Singhvi further said the CAG report tabled in the Gujarat Assembly on March 31, 2016 “exposes the false myth of ‘Vikas Model’ and ‘Brand Namo'”.

“The CAG report is a telling irony of crony capitalism, malicious enrichment of private parties, writing off public money invested in questionable oil/gas reserves, besides deliberate bleeding of a state public sector undertaking by a Chief Minister who encouraged and institutionally supported plunder of state resources,” he said.

Singhvi said the GSPC surrendered 45 gas blocks, i.e. 70.31 per cent of the 64 blocks owned by it, and the total loss to public exchequer from the surrender stood at Rs 2,992.72 crore, as per the CAG report.

“Out of these, loss on account of 11 overseas blocks that were surrendered is Rs 1,757.46 crore.”

“Never before have the state resources been plundered in this reckless fashion and loss caused to public exchequer as brought by the CAG. Narendra Modi refuses to respond, leave apart placing the facts before the nation. Is this the reason for condoning corruption by other BJP honchos?” Singhvi said.