Centre of spat: Modi locked in a war of words with Modhwadia

The state Assembly on Wednesday witnessed a heated argument between Chief Minister Narendra Modi and senior Congress member Arjun Modhwadia on the issue of Central funds provided to the Gujarat government under the national e-governance programme.

Written by Express News Service | Ahmedabad | Published:February 19, 2009 1:07 am

Congress accuses CM of misleading the House over Central funds,stages walkout

The state Assembly on Wednesday witnessed a heated argument between Chief Minister Narendra Modi and senior Congress member Arjun Modhwadia on the issue of Central funds provided to the Gujarat government under the national e-governance programme.

The exchanges culminated with walkout,first by Modhwadia and then by the entire Congress block from the House. The Opposition members alleged that the CM was “misleading the House” by giving wrong reply.

It all started during the Question Hour when Modhwadia raised a supplementary query asking as to how much funds Gujarat had received from the Centre for different projects under the national e-governance programme and what was the state’s share in it.

He raised the query when Minister of State for Women and Child Welfare Maya Kodnani was responding to a question by Naresh Patel (BJP),who wanted to know as to what measures the government had taken to develop the State Data Centre (SDC).

Intervening,Modi told Modhwadia,the SDC was a unique project being implemented in the state,for which the government had urged the Centre to provide adequate funds. But till now,the Centre has provided only Rs 4 crore for the project. Modi said that Gujarat had not received any funds for other projects under the e-governance programme.

This prompted the opposition member to shoot back at Modi,saying the UPA government at the Centre had not only provided Rs 18.30 crore to Gujarat for the SDC project,but also allotted Rs 91.51 crore for creating the Gujarat State Wide Area Network (GSWAN) across the state. Modhwadia said the details of the Central funds he was providing were based on the information obtained from the government under the RTI Act. To this,Modi said the original question pertained only to the SDC project,and that the issue being raised by the opposition about other e-governance projects was not relevant. Modhwadia alleged that the CM was misleading the House and insisted the government should respond to the query he has raised. Later,Speaker Ashok Bhatt ruled the issue raised by the Opposition was not relevant to the original question (asked by Naresh Patel),and that he could not allow Modhwadia to raise it. This led to the walkout. Outside the House,Modhwadia told mediapersons that the present UPA regime had provided over Rs 133 crore to Gujarat to implement various IT projects under the national e-governance programme,as against a measly Rs 3.73 crore doled out by the previous BJP-led NDA government. Referring to the figures he had obtained from the State Science and Technology department,Modhwadia said the Centre has provided Rs 91.52 crore to Gujarat for the GSWAN project — Asia’s biggest computer network — while Rs 18.30 crore has been allocated for the SDC project. The Centre has also provided Rs 6.13 crore for setting up 600 kiosks in 25 districts. “The magnetic observatory set up in Saurashtra University is the baby of the UPA government with funds of over Rs 1.20 crore,” he added. Later in the day,he told Newsline he would submit a privilege notice to the Speaker,seeking action against Modi for “misleading the House”.

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