Government urged to address drought situation

New Delhi:The Congress on Wednesday sought a discussion on the AgustaWestland helicoper deal in the Lok Sabha, saying allegations have been levelled against its leadership.

As soon as the House took up question hour, Congress leader of the House Mallikarjun Kharge said all newspapers have the news item on the VVIP helicopter deal and allegations have been levelled against party leaders.

“Names have appeared. We will have to think about it. We should discuss,” he said without naming AgustaWestland.

Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said the issue could be raised after question hour.

The Congress has maintained that the UPA government had taken action once reports of wrongdoings and allegations of corrupt practices surfaced in 2013.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi also rejected allegations linking her and her party leaders in the AgustaWestland chopper deal bribes. “I am not afraid, accusations they are levelling at us are false,” she said.

Besides cancelling the deal, the UPA had blacklisted AgustaWestland and confiscated the guarantee money. But the NDA government, the party said, had now removed the Italian company from the blacklist.

Live updates:

6.13 pm: In the lower house, Jitendra Singh MoS (Ind Charge), Development of North Easter Region said that the air connectivity within the northeastern states is less than the other areas.

6.02 pm: Radha Mohan Singh, Minister of Agriculture said in the Upper House that the drought situation has always been monitored and many states have been sanctioned money to face such a situation.

6.00 pm: PM Narendra Modi will fulfil Dr. Ambedkar’s vision of Centre Water Ways Irrigation and Navigation Commission, to make water reach people all over the country, said Ms. Bharti.

5.45 pm: In Rajya Sabha, Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti says that Rs. 10,364 crores have been given to Maharashtra. “The govt now has been working towards development,” she added.

5.29 pm: Sikkim is now an organic State. The government can do a lot by supporting this venture, said Prem Das Rai, SDF, Sikkim, in the Lok Sabha.

5.14 pm: “Our State needs help during the drought situation,” says Balwinder Singh Bunder, SAD, Punjab, in the Rajya Sabha.

5.12 pm: For many years, Northeast has been discriminated, says Rajesh Ranjan (Pappu Yadav), RJD, Madhepura (Bihar) in Lok Sabha.

5.00 pm: Northeast is rich in resources but Nagaland remains backward, says Neiphiu Rio, NPF, Nagaland in Lok Sabha.

4.27 pm: In the Rajya Sabha, CPI member D. Raja says Centre govt failed to anticipate the drought situation and had no plans to mitigate the situation. It was after Supreme court intervention that the govt responded. The Govt should have a proactive approach towards dealing drought, than waiting and watching for monsoon.

4.22 pm: “Tripura is the most peaceful and the most corruption-free place in India. BJP govt is trying its best to develop the northeast,” said Ram Prasad Sarmah.

4.15 pm: “Air connectivity to Northeast has been enhanced. Road connectivity has now been taken up,” said Ram Prasad Sarmah, BJP Tezpur (Assam) in the Lok Sabha.

3.45 pm: “I feel that a minister should go to Northeast and develop these areas,” said Saugata Roy, Trinamool Congress, in the Lok Sabha. “Development is the need of this country. Northeast is not the place for political manipulation,” he added.

3.40 pm: CPI(M) member Tapan Kumar Sen of the Rajya Sabha asks the Centre to respond quickly to demands from States and address issues surrounding drought.

3.29 pm: BSP member Rajpal Singh Saini asks the govt to waive of farmers loan while participating in the drought debate in the Rajya Sabha.

3.16 pm: JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav says the government should fulfil its promise to provide irrigation urgently across the country during the ongoing debate on current situation in the country arisen out of drought, in the Rajya Sabha.

3.00 pm: BJD leader Tathagata Satpathy said in the Lok Sabha that Indians were lucky in a way that colonialism gave them Northeast, calling it “a beautiful part of the world.” “But for 50 years we have had AFSPA there. We have killed several thousand people there. AFSPA has been a biggest deterrent for integrating the youth of northeast with the rest of India.” He demands the revocation of AFSPA from the Northeast.

2.59 pm: Ajay Sancheti, BJP, Maharashtra, says in the Rajya Sabha that irrigation and river-linking have gained momentum.

2.47 pm: Marathwada is being called as ‘Tankerwada’ since we’ve been using tankers for water, says Ranjani Patil, INC, Maharashtra, in the Rajya Sabha.

2.40 pm: “Right now, 11 states are facing drought-like conditions. Whether in states or at the Centre, where there are different political parties, we must face the situation. We must rise above political lines and face the situation together,” former Agriculture Minister and NCP chief Sharad Pawar said during a short debate on drought in the Upper House.

With Agencies