New Delhi : After being adjourned thrice over demands for a discussion on the diversion of funds meant for Dalits to Commonwealth Games projects, the Rajya Sabha Tuesday debated the issue, with angry opposition MPs flaying the government for denying the poor of their due.
“It shows the real mentality of the government which pretends to be pro-Dalit,” Bahujan Samaj Party leader Satish Chandra Misra said while raising the issue in the post-lunch session, adding: “Instead of using the funds meant for making schools, health centres and other amenities for the scheduled castes, the government put their money in the Commonwealth Games. It is shameful.”
Responding to the discussion, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Prithviraj Chavan said: “It is a serious matter, I will apprise the (Delhi) government (of the concerns raised) and the government will come back with the information shortly.”
According to information given in reply to an RTI application, nearly Rs.744.35 crore from Delhi’s Special Component Plan (SCP), which is meant for improving the standard of living of Dalits through various government schemes and programmes, was diverted to Games projects.
Mishra also demanded a parliamentary panel probe into the issue.
“A special parliamentary committee should be constituted and CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) should come up with a report,” he said.
Backing the BSP demand, Bharatiya Janata Party leader M. Venkaiah Naidu said the diversion of funds was “atrocious”.
“This is not acceptable, the government of India should intervene, order an enquiry and take action,” Naidu said.
Communist Party of India-Marxist member Brinda Karat described it as “economic oppression”.
“They have robbed a major chunk of the money meant for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, it is not Commonwealth Games, it is Lootwealth games,” Karat said.
She also alleged that the diversion was done with the permission of the Planning Commission.
“Planning Commission is headed by the prime minister, it happened with their permission,” she maintained.
Bhalchandra Mungekar (Nominated) said that diversion of funds was against the rules.
“The diversion of funds is indefensible, the funds earmarked for Special Component Plans and tribal sub-plans is non-divertible and non-lapsable,” he said.
Replying to the debate, Chavan said he will get back with the reply after collecting information.
An agitated opposition, however, demanded a timeline from the minister.
“The matter concerns the state government and we will have to get information from the state government,” Chavan said, assuring he would get back as soon as possible.
The minister also added that there was “no question of diversion of money” meant for the scheduled castes and tribes.
The issue saw three adjournments of the house, the first for 10 minutes when the house assembled at 11 a.m., the second till 12 noon and the third till 2 p.m.