New Delhi: Certain remarks by Rural Development Minister CP Joshi in the Lok Sabha against BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh led to a clash between ruling and opposition members with LK Advani asking the Centre to respect states.
Joshi was put on the backfoot after he remarked during the Question Hour that "Rs 75 dene ki himmat nahi hai aur baat kar rahe hain Rs 100 ki (Chhattisgarh government does not have guts to pay Rs 75 a day under NREGA but was seeking Rs 100)".
He was replying to a question on the Centre`s response to various letters from the state government on revision of minimum wage rate under NREGA scheme.
Wages under NREGA are paid as per the Act and the Centre may, by notification, specify the minimum wage rate, Joshi said adding that the UPA government has promised in the Budget a minimum of Rs 100 a day.
However, when Saroj Pandey (BJP) insisted to know the exact time about the implementation, Joshi remarked about the state government that led to uproar in the House.
Leader of the House Pranab Mukherjee had to intervene to calm the frayed tempers and said "he understands sentiments of the members and will suggest his ministerial colleagues not to offend these sentiments."
Mukherjee also said he was not answering on behalf of the minister but wanted to say that the promise of Rs 100 a day as minimum wage was part of the Budget exercise and since Budget has just been passed, the issue of minimum wage will be taken up now. On the nature of reply from Joshi, Advani said, "I would expect minister to be respectful towards states. We have a federal structure in which the Centre should respect states and states should respect the Centre."
BJP, however, demanded that Joshi should take back the words which had led to uproar in the House.
To this Joshi said his intentions were very clear not to offend the sentiments of any member and amended his statement saying, "I wanted to say that they (state government) don`t have the capacity to pay... and if it has hurt the sentiments, I with draw it."
Replying to a question by Sharad Yadav (JD-U) that government money was being "looted" in the name of NREGA scheme in tribal areas, Joshi said "it is a State subject... but efforts are being made to improve the functioning of the scheme."