'Bizarre': Congress on Nirmala Sitharaman's space announcements


New Delhi, May 16: Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on Saturday criticised the tranche of Rs 20 lakh crore stimulus measures announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, calling it a "bizarre" amid a nationwide migrant crisis.

In a series of tweet, the congress leader wrote, "When migrants can't reach home safely, Finance Minister is talking of opening up planetary exploration and outer space travel to private sector. BIZARRE!."

"One company stands to gain the most from today's package. This is A-nirbhar Bharat," he added.

"Tomorrow is the final press conference of FM. Hope at least in that she will tell us how much funds will be given to states in the next 6 months to deal with the economic & social crisis arising from COVID19. States are being denied their legitimate dues & this is hurting India," he said.

Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy called the economic package announcement irrelevant in a democracy.

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Narayanasamy said the opening up ofcoal sector and proposed changes in eight sectors, including defence production, airspace, airports and power distribution in Union Territories, were not relevant in a democracy.

He said there was no clear indication of how the benefits envisaged in the tranches would reach the targeted sections.

"There are several uncertainties and complications in the Finance Minister's announcements," he said.

The government on Saturday said it will relax foreign direct investment norms in defence manufacturing by allowing 74 per cent FDI under the automatic route with a view to attracting overseas players in the sector.

As per the current FDI policy, 100 per cent overseas investments are permitted in the defence industry -- 49 per cent under the automatic route, while beyond that government approval is required.

"Future projects for planetary exploration and outer space travel will be open for private sector," she said, adding, "India already has the benefit of an extraordinary institution like ISRO, but now lots of private players are also coming in with innovative space technology.

The centre has been facing opposition flack over the migrants, who have been stranded for weeks without jobs and money because of the coronavirus lockdown.

Twenty-four migrants were killed and more than 30 were injured when the trucks they were travelling in collided at around 3 am in Uttar Pradesh's Auraiya district.

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