Accusing the earlier Congress government of bleeding the state-owned BSNL to "death almost", Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said Modi government is giving money to the company to buy 4G spectrum and become competitive. She was responding to allegations of Shiv Sena member Arvind Sawant in Lok Sabha that the government was killing state-owned BSNL and MTNL while on the other hand it was helping private sector player Vodafone.
"BSNL is a part of our strategic asset... we are giving (the company) money to buy 4G spectrum and become competitive," she said while intervening during a discussion on general budget. The BSNL, she said "lost full ten years" because of the treatment meted out to it by the previous Congress government. "There was 2G exploitation because of which BSNL lost out... you (Congress) allowed all kinds of corruption in 2G", she added.
"When the Modi government came to power in 2014, BSNL was in a bad shape and did not have money to pay salaries," she said, adding that the NDA government provided funds so that the company could come out with a Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) and clear dues of its employees. "The Modi government has given money to the company to buy 4G spectrum," she said.
Participating in the discussion on the budget, Sawant accused the government of handing over airports to the Adani group. He also said that insurance regulator IRDAI has been headless for past several months. "The Modi government," Sawant said, "was worried about the future but unconcerned about the present, especially about the people who lost their jobs during the pandemic."
Accusing the finance minister of reducing allocations for social sector schemes, Trinamool member Kalyan Banerjee said the budget does not show any ray of hope for unemployed persons, poor and marginalised sections of the society. The budget, he said, does not provide any relief to the salaried, middle class and elderly persons. Sushil Kumar Singh (BJP) accused the opposition of failing to see and appreciate the schemes which are aimed at providing relief to poor people.
With PTI Inputs