Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Tuesday took a dig at the Centre over its repeated admissions in Parliament that it has no data on matters such as farmers’ suicides, migrant workers’ deaths or coronavirus fatalities among health workers. Tharoor equated NDA, the acronym of National Democratic Alliance, to “no data available.”
“No data on migrant workers, no data on farmer suicides, wrong data on fiscal stimulus, dubious data on Covid deaths, cloudy data on GDP [Gross Domestic Product] growth – this government gives a whole new meaning to the term NDA,” Tharoor said in a tweet. It was accompanied by a caricature of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Union Home Minister Amit Shah carrying placards with the letters N, D and A, and the words no, data and available. The image was titled “the name changers”.
On Sunday, Congress leader P Chidambaram had targeted the Union government over inadequate data on the contentious farm bills, according to NDTV. “How will the [agriculture] minister know which farmer sold his produce to which trader?” he had asked in Parliament. “How will he know the millions of transactions that will take place every day all over the country? If he does not have the data, how will he guarantee MSP [Minimum Support Price] is paid in every transaction?”
In response to questions in Parliament during the monsoon session, the Centre has said many times that it does not have data on certain matters. On Monday, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy informed the Rajya Sabha that it does not have any composite data on farmers’ suicides because various states did not provide the figures to the National Crime Record Bureau.
On a question on whether the Centre has a record of the number of undocumented migrants in the country, the Centre had on Monday failed to provide any data and specifically answer the query. “Illegal immigrants enter into the country without valid travel documents in a clandestine and surreptitious manner,” Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai told the Rajya Sabha. “Detection, detention and deportation of such illegally staying foreign nationals is an ongoing process.”
A week earlier, the Centre had admitted in Parliament that it had no data available on the number of migrants workers who died during an exodus that began after a countrywide lockdown was imposed in view of the coronavirus pandemic in March. The remarks had drawn criticism from several quarters. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had attacked the Centre, saying: “You didn’t count, so nobody died? The sad thing is that there was no impact on the government. The world saw them dying but the Modi government remained unaware.”
On September 15, Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey told the Rajya Sabha that there was no complete data on the number of frontline healthcare workers who were infected with the coronavirus and died. Choubey said health is a state subject and such data is not maintained at central level. The Indian Medical Association accused the Centre of “indifference” and “abdication” and said that so far at least 382 doctors had died due to the infection.